It was built in 1345 by Neri di Fioravante (or by Taddeo Gaddi according to Vasari), at the Arno’s narrowest neck, over three arches so solidly built that they have outlasted many centuries, unlike the earlier arches, which collapsed during floods.
The new bridge was quickly lined with shops and ateliers, first made of wood and later built in masonry. Until the end of the 16th c. these shops belonged mostly to butchers and herbalists.
The grand duke Ferdinando I had these shopkeepers replaced with shops run by goldsmiths and silversmiths. At the centre of the bridge is a small plaza, free of shops, from which one can enjoy a lovely view of the river.
The Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge not destroyed by the Germans in their retreat from Florence in 1944.