The Rialto is part of the San Polo Sestriere famous for its market and the Rialto Bridge. The area was the first inhabited one of what it will became the city of Venice. The banks of the canals were higher than in other parts of the lagoon so it was easier to settle here. At the beginning of the 9th century after Pepin the Short tried to invade the lagoon the government was moved from Malamocco in Rialto; the area was considered a safer place. When the power was transferred to the Doge’s Palace Rialto became the commercial center of Venice. In 1097 the market was moved here and the area grew in importance. Many warehouses were built, shops and banks too. The market was very popular for the spice trade, until the Spanish and Portuguese opened the route to the Americas it contributed to the wealth and growth of the Serenissima. Its decline coincided with the one of the city.
At the beginning of the 16th century a devastating fire destroyed almost all the edifices of the Rialto zone; among the important buildings only the Church of San Giacomo di Rialto survived.
Today this is one of the most famous area of Venice. Every year thousands of tourists explore its narrow streets, enjoyed the many shops and of course photograph the unique Rialto Bridge; the views from this bridge are among the most photographed in the entire worlds.