RIALTO BRIDGE, St. Mark's Side

Audio File length: 2.17
English / USA Language: English / USA

Hi, I'm Ed, your personal guide. Together with MyWoWo, I'd like to welcome you to one of the wonders of the world.

Today I'll accompany you through the Rialto Bridge, which is one of the most symbolic monuments in Venice!

Until the second half of the 19th century, the Rialto Bridge was the only passage between the two sides of the Grand Canal. Throughout the rest of the city, the only way to get to the other side was to rely on the many "ferries", or rowboat services; even today, if you want to experience the thrill of a gondola ride for a few euros, you can use one of these ferries.

Of course the best viewpoint of the Rialto Bridge is from the water, and you've probably already seen it from a boat; even if the bridge is quite impressive when you pass under it, it's just as beautiful when you pass over it, coming from the Vin Shore or San Bartolomeo Square. Firstly, let me explain that "Rialto" comes from "rivo alto", which is the deep and navigable canal of the lagoon archipelago. The Rialto Bridge is located exactly in the middle of the Grand Canal, at the most ancient point in the city, where the market has been held for more than a millennium. In a beautiful painting by Carpaccio which you may have seen in the Accadamie Gallery, you'll discover that the bridge was made of wood until the 1500s, and the central part was made of movable walkways that could be raised and withdrawn to allow for the passage of larger ships.

The bridge you are admiring now dates back to the end of the 15th century and connects the St. Mark's and San Polo districts. The reconstruction in masonry, decisive for the "modern" image of the city, came only after an exciting contest that the great architect Palladio participated in, but didn't win. Palladio's design was elegant, but frankly unworkable: it included three arches, and as you can imagine the pillars would have been a major obstacle for boats.


FUN FACT: to finance the construction of the bridge, the Venetians provided covered workshops which were rented out at a high price considering their location with maximum urban passage. These Venetians definitely had commercial genius!


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