The very first step on the Grand Canal was a boat bridge built in the twelfth century by the same architect of the columns on the Piazzetta San Marco, Nicolò Barattieri. The name of this bridge, called Ponte della Moneta, was due to the presence of the Mint, which stood at east, toward San Marco. The economic and commercial life of the city in this era was focused here, in the area known at the time Rio Alto.
At around 1250, it was replaced by a wooden bridge structure that opened at the top to allow the passage of ships in the Canal Grande. This was rebuilt several times after the various fires that devastated the city. During this time the bridge was named the Rialto Bridge, an integral part of the market life.
In the first half of the fifteenth century along the sides of the bridge, there were built two rows of shops. The first stone bridge in Istria rose in ‘500, when the Venetian authorities made a contract for the renovation of the Rialto Bridge. Famous architects such as Jacopo Sansovino, Andrea Palladio and Vignola, presented draft pf classical approach, with several arches, which were judged not suitable.
The race was won by Antonio da Ponte, and the bridge, very similar to the previous wooden one, was completed in 1591. The two banks of the Canal were reinforced in order to provide due support to the arches. 6000 oak poles were placed in the ground on each side to support the heads. The arch of the Rialto bridge has an height of 7.50 meters with a span of 28 meters, divided into three tiers with walkways, with two rows of shops.
It still is one of the commercial and financial centers of the city; today the tourists spend fortunes in the "souvenir shops" of the bridge - symbol of the Serenissima.