The Ponte di Rialto was built between 1588 and 1591 by the aptly-named Antonio da Ponte (1512-97).
One side of the bridge is decorated with images of the Archangel Gabriel, the dove of the Holy Spirit, and the Virgin Mary, all the work of Agostino Rubini. The dove is carved into the keystone of the bridge and is, more often than not, hidden behind advertising banners.
The story of the Annunciation refers to the legend that the city of Venice was founded on March 25th (Feast of the Annunciation) in the year 421.
The large plaques behind Gabriel and Mary are inscribed with the names of the three Provveditori alla fabbrica del Ponte di Rialto: Alvise Zorzi, Marcantonio Barbaro and Giacomo Foscarini. Both plaques are surmounted by the coat of arms of Doge Pasquale Cicogna (r. 1585-95).
The other side of the bridge sports the figures of two of Venice's patron saints, Mark and Theodore, the work of Tiziano Aspetti.