The Rialto Bridge is one of the architectural icons of Venice. It joins the Rialto Market on the east side of the Grand Canal with the San Polo district on the west bank.
The current stone bridge replaced a series of wooden bridges and a pontoon bridge which have stood on the same spot since 1181, the first permanent crossing on the Grand Canal.
After the partial burning of the bridge during a revolt in 1310 and the collapse of the bridge in 1444 and 1524, it was decided to rebuild the bridge in stone.
The current, single span bridge was completed in 1591 to a design by Antonio da Ponte. The bridge hosts a number of shops bordering the central stairs with a balustraded area behind the shops giving access to views over the Grand Canal.
As of May 2016, the bridge is still almost completely covered by construction materials during its refurbishment. Consequently access to the views of the Grand Canal is not possible.