A graceful, arched stone bridge comprising of three sets of stairs, Rialto Bridge is the oldest of the four bridges spanning across the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. Famously known as Ponte di Rialto or the ‘Lover’s Bridge’, this elegant masterpiece connects the sestieri of San Polo and San Marco, and is one of the city’s most significant attractions.

Since its construction as a pontoon bridge in the 12th century, Rialto Bridge has been face-lifted several times to stand out as the best bridge in Italy. In fact, the 500-year old bridge gets its name from Rialto, which is the first district of Venice to have developed as the commercial and financial hub of this burgeoning city.

Because the Rialto Bridge was once the only place to cross the Grand Canal on foot, it was especially master-crafted with a 7.5-meter arch and 12,000 wooden pilings that would hold up to heavy use and allow boats to pass underneath. Did you know that the bridge’s chief architect, Antonio da Ponte (Anthony of the Bridge) competed against the likes of eminent Italian designers such as Michelangelo, Sansovino and Palladio for the contract.

Today, the Rialto Bridge is not just central to the history of Venice, but it is also brimming with so many shops and vendors on either side of it that it’s quite easy to forget that you’re crossing over the Grand Canal. What’s more; other than lavish souvenir shops with spectacular views of the Grand Canal, the bridge also showcases fancy restaurants on the north and south side of it. While it is quite crowded on both sides of the steps, it is highly recommended to take some photos of this unforgettable scene at the sunset, when the place becomes even more beautiful and romantic.

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