The Pulteney bridge over the Avon River, one of only four bridges in the world to have shops across its full span on both sides, is a creation of the Scottish architect Robert Adam, who received inspiration from the Venetian Rialto bridge, artificial rapids, majestic architecture of the left bank cannot leave lovers of beauty indifferent. Within 20 years of its construction, alterations were made that expanded the shops and changed the façades. By the end of the 18th century it had been damaged by floods, but it was rebuilt to a similar design. Over the next century alterations to the shops included cantilevered extensions on the bridge's north face. In the 20th century several schemes were carried out to preserve the bridge and partially return it to its original appearance, enhancing its appeal as a tourist attraction.
The bridge is now 45 metres (148 ft) long and 18 metres (58 ft) wide. Although there have been plans to pedestrianise the bridge, it is still used by buses and taxis. The much photographed bridge and the weir below are close to the centre of the city, which is a World Heritage Site largely because of its Georgian architecture.