The Rialto Bridge is the oldest of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. Connecting the sestieri (districts) of San Marco and San Polo, it has been rebuilt several times since its first construction as a pontoon bridge in 1173, and is now a significant tourist attraction in the city.
The first dry crossing of the Grand Canal was a pontoon bridge built in 1181 by Nicolò Barattieri. It was called the Ponte della Moneta, presumably because of the mint that stood near its eastern entrance.
The development and importance of the Rialto market on the eastern bank increased traffic on the floating bridge, so it was replaced in 1255 by a wooden bridge. This structure had two ramps meeting at a movable central section, that could be raised to allow the passage of tall ships. The connection with the market eventually led to a change of name for the bridge. During the first half of the 15th century, two rows of shops were built along the sides of the bridge. The rents brought an income to the State Treasury, which helped maintain the bridge.