The Fondaco: Ponte di Rialto and ties between Venice and the Germans
The Fondaco dei Tedeschi is a 15thcentury palace, which has turned it into a luxury shopping centre.
The Origins of The Fondaco
The ties between Venice and the German world were historically very strong, and so a fondaco, from the Arabic for warehouse, was built to host the workshops of these Nordic communities.
In 1505 a fire destroyed it almost entirely, but in only three years it was rebuilt exactly as we see it today. For the occasion, Giorgione painted frescoes on the side of the grand Canal and Titian on the side of the smaller side canal; both unfortunately have been the victim of time.
The Rialto Bridge
You cannot miss the Rialto Bridge, the first urban center of Venice. It comes from the Latin “rivus altus”, deep canal, referring to the Grand Canal. Dating back to 1180, it was initially a series of boats with wooden planks placed on top.
It was then built in wood resting on stilts. However, on June 15th, 1310, Bajamonte Tiepolo and other conspirators of a failed coup d’état, broke the bridge to stop the Doge’s pursuing troops. It was then rebuilt as it was, but in 1444, during a visit by the Marquess of Ferrara, the bridge collapsed under the weight of the crowd who had gathered to see the parade along the Grand Canal.
In mid-16th century a public competition was set to rebuild the bridge in stone; Sansovino, Palladio and other famous architects proposed classical projects with several arches. But the task went to the Venetian Antonio da Ponte, the only one to propose a single arch, and indeed he built it as we see it today.
By unifying the two parts of the city on either side of the Grand Canal in a single arch movement, the Rialto Bridge has become the symbol of Venice’s unity and uniqueness.
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