Antonio da Ponte

Bridge builder

Rialto Bridge

Born in Switzerland, Antonio da Ponte (1512–97) was an architect and sculptor who spent most of his career working for the government of Venice. He was put in charge of the rebuilding of the Palazzo Ducale after the fire in 1575, and designed the palace's prison (his nephew, Antonio Contino, designed the Bridge of Sighs). He also roofed over the 316m Tana in the Arsenale, and won the contest (over entries submitted by the likes of Michelangelo and Palladio) to design his best known work, the Rialto Bridge: his was the only one with a single arch, and despite dire predictions that it would collapse, it has held firm.

So did his name, 'Antony of the Bridge' derive from his masterpiece? No, it was just a happy coincidence.

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