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Rialto Bridge

From: Venice's Top 11 Free Sights

Rialto Bridge

ABOVE: Tourists watch canal traffic from the Rialto Bridge.

Rialto Bridge and Grand CanalThe Ponte di Rialto, a.k.a. the Rialto Bridge, has been the main pedestrian crossing between the two banks of the Grand Canal since 1591. In fact, it was the only bridge across the Canal Grande until a predecessor to today's Accademia Bridge was built in 1854.

Rialto Bridge shopsYou might think that, with Venice being a city of traders, the shopping arcade in the center was built to separate tourists and locals from their money. In fact, the shops have a structural purpose: The rows of covered arches that run up the center of the bridge and over the top help to stiffen the bridge, making piers unnecessary and allowing 7.5 meters or 24 feet of clearance for boats (including the galleys that existed in the 16th Century, when the current stone bridge was built).

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Next page: Rialto Food Markets

Top 11 Free Sights in Venice:
1. Piazza San Marco
2. Basilica di San Marco
3. Venice Waterfront (St. Mark's Basin)
4. Grand Canal
5. Rialto Bridge
6. Rialto Food Markets
7. Venetian Ghetto
8. Canali, Campi, Calli (canals, squares, back streets)
9. Churches (Salute, Carmini, and others that don't charge admission)
10. Shopping Streets
11. Islands (San Michele, Murano, Burano, Torcello, Lido)
Printable 'Top 11 Free Sights' List