Rialto Bridge, Venice Ponte di Rialto
For a long time the Ponte di Rialto was the only footbridge over the Canal Grande; the Ponte dell'Accademia was not built until 1854 and the Ponte Scalzi near the station is 20th century. It gets its name from "Rivus Altus" (high bank) which was the name given to the earliest settlement on the island.The first wooden bridge was built on this spot as early as 1180, later to be replaced by a drawbridge which collapsed in 1444 under the weight of a crowd of people who had gathered to watch a boat procession. Almost 150 years later, in 1588, the Venetians embarked upon the venture of building a stone bridge. Designed by Antonio de Ponte, the bridge is supported by 6,000 piles on each side and its single arch is 22m/72ft in span and 7.5m/24ft high.
Rialto Bridge Map
Palace of the Lords of the Exchequer
Built across a corner, because of a bend in the Canal Grande, this marble palace near the Rialto bridge was once the seat of three most important Lords of the Venetian Exchequer and is a law court. The prestigious palazzo was built in 1525-1528 by Guglielmo Grigo on the site of a former building which had burnt down in 1513. Its proportions are well balanced and it has attractive mezzo-reliefs, an interesting last testimony of Lombard Renaissance ornamentation. Its best side can be seen either from the Canal Grande or from the Ponte di Rialto.
German Commodity Exchange
The Fondaco (from the Arabic "funduk" = commodity exchange) dei Tedeschi, The German Commodity Exchange is first recorded in 1228. At that time the "German" merchants also included Poles, Czechs and Hungarians. Today the building contains the main Post Office. When the Fondaco burned down in 1505 the Republic assumed the cost of rebuilding it and entrusted the decoration of the façade (and its vanished frescoes) to Giorgione and Titian.The fragments of its remaining frescoes can be seen in the Ca' d'Oro. The prime position close to the Rialto and the fact that Venice had paid for rebuilding, underlined the economic advantages which the Republic obtained from this institution. On every purchase and sale - these generally involved considerable sums - a high commission had to be paid to the state of Venice. It was not for nothing that in the 16th and 17th centuries the Fondaco was called "the golden ark of the Senate". The exchange was both a place of business and a refuge for the merchants. They were not permitted to appear alone, nor to conduct any business outside the Fondaco. They were subjected to strict controls, they lived and ate communally (no women were allowed) and they were subjected to Venetian supervision. Publicly the German merchants were presented as a "brotherhood" of the Church of San Bartolomeo which belonged to them.The façade on the Canal Grande is, in accordance with Venetian tradition, in three sections. The middle section is a five-arched "Portico"; above this are the dining-rooms on the corners of the upper floor, topped by an ornamental merlon-like moulding.The architecture of the building corresponds exactly to the purpose for which it served: 160 rooms are spread over four floors surrounding a courtyard. The shops were in the outer rooms of the ground floor while the other rooms were used for storage. The rooms of the upper floors were living quarters and offices. The Customs post overlooked the canal.
This was the church of the German merchants in Venice for which Albrecht Dürer painted his famous "Feast of the Rosary" (1506), later acquired by Emperor Rudolf II and taken to Prague where it is still to be found.In the choir of the church on the former organ wings are the paintings of four saints by Sebastiano del Piombo (ca. 1485-1547). The altar-piece on the High Altar, "The Martyrdom of St Bartholomew" by Palmer the Younger, is also of interest.
Vanice - Malibran Theatre
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