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Key Info

Sestiere San Polo

Price & Hours

Free
24/7 daily

Details

Free, Sightseeing Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 0.0Food Scene
  • 4.5Atmosphere

Several centuries ago, if you wanted to cross the Grand Canal, the Rialto Bridge was the only way. There are now four major bridges that cross the canal, but Rialto is by far the most famous. The bridge's current incarnation is the handiwork of Antonio da Ponte, who beat out Michelangelo and Palladio for the job. Antonio da Ponte's name translates to "Anthony of the Bridge," and he built the Rialto Bridge entirely of Istrian stone after it collapsed multiple times from previous designs. Predicted to fail by critics, the bridge still stands and is considered an engineering marvel.  

Recent visitors recommended enjoying the bridge either early in the day or after sunset, as they said it becomes quite crowded toward midday. Still, most say the lovely views from the top are worth any crowd maneuvering you have to do. Others recommend skipping the crowds altogether and enjoying the view of the Rialto Bridge from the water in a waterbus. Keep in mind: Most of the best Venice tours make stops here. Access to the bridge, which connects the neighborhoods of San Marco and San Polo, is free 24/7.  

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#1 St. Mark's Basilica (Basilica di San Marco)

This elaborate church sits on the popular piazza by the same name. The church was built in honor of St. Mark the evangelist, whose remains were stolen from their home in Alexandria, Egypt, and hidden in barrels of pork and cabbage leaves by a couple crafty Venetians, intent on bringing him to rest in Venice.  

Crafted from many different styles of architecture, today its opulence shines from nearly every corner – from the four bronze horses that guard the entrance to thousands of square feet of mosaics to the Pala d'Oro. If you look closely at the church's center gable, you can see a statue of St. Mark along with Venice's emblem: a lion with wings.  

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