Several incarnations of this bridge have been in place since the early 1100's; indeed, by 1172 there were plans in place to build a pontoon bridge. This was also the only major crossing of the Grand Canal until the mid-1800s, when the Accademia (1854) and then the Scalzi (or Station Bridge, 1858) were built. Prior to that crossings in other areas along the length of the Grand Canal took place on traghettos--wider versions of the gondola used specifically for transporting larger numbers of people and goods. The stone Rialto Bridge was built by Antonio da Ponte between 1588-1591. He is known for his work rebuilding the Doge's Palace after a fire in 1574. The competition for the commission include the famous architects of the time; Palladio, Sansovino, Vignola and Michelangelo. He was assisted by his nephew Antonio Contino, who would go on to design the Bridge of Sighs. Shop stalls flank the two sides of the bridge with thoroughfares for foot traffic down the center and one either side. Da Ponte's design maintained a single arch to allow for taller boats to pass underneath. The height and expanse of the arch was considered audacious by some; including Scamozzi, who predicted its ruin. Clearly he was mistaken. In 2007, the fourth bridge to span the Grand Canal, designed by Calatrava (opened in 2008), was moved in sections by barge down the Grand Canal to its construction site, and passed (albeit with some nail biting) beneath the Rialto Bridge.
- Lorenzetti, Venice and Its Lagoon: Historical-Artistic Guide (Rome: Istituto Poligrafico dello Stato, 1961) as translated and with supplementary content by Taryn Marie Zarrillo, 2012/13 - Lorenzetti, Venice and Its Lagoon: Historical-Artistic Guide (Rome: Istituto Poligrafico dello Stato, 1961) as translated and with supplementary content by Taryn Marie Zarrillo, 2012/13