Rialto Bridge, Venice

The Rialto Bridge spans the Grand Canal in Venice and is one of the world's longest span masonry arch bridges. Most who see it for the first time are surprised by its size. The Grand Canal is the main transport artery through Venice, connecting the railway station and car park at its western end with St. Mark's Square at the eastern end. The Rialto Bridge replaced a former wooden bridge which burned down (don't they all). The structure comprises a fixed base arch which would have been difficult to analyse in the 18th century when it was designed. The shops which now occupy each side of the bridge sell tourist trinkets. The views below show the shops' rear. The heavy loads applied by the superstructure are taken by timber piles driven into the soft clay upon which Venice is constructed.