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The Rialto Building is of architectural and historical significance to the State of Victoria. Our hotel’s façade is a stunning example of 1890s neo-gothic architecture. Taking its name from the famous bridge that crosses the Grand Canal in Venice, the Rialto is as rich in character as it is in history.

Built in 1891, the hotel began as two separate buildings that housed the famous Melbourne wool stores and its offices. The bluestone cobbled laneways between the Rialto and Winfield buildings, which once echoed with the clatter of horse hoofs as carts carried wool and wheat to the wharves, still remains untouched under our floorboards.

Completed during the Gold Rush when Melbourne was the richest city in the world, the historic Rialto building was commissioned by Patrick McCaughan, a wealthy Melbourne businessman, and designed in the neo-gothic style by celebrated architect William Pitt.

Next door, the Winfield building housed the offices that serviced the wool and wheat stores in the late 1800s. Designed by architects Richard Speight Jr. and Charles D’Ebro, the Australian National Trust lists it as “an example of the brick Romanesque style from the closing phase of the gold boom”.

Both the Rialto and Winfield buildings were designed to facilitate the new style of commercial enterprise emerging at the time. They offered tenants the very latest in modern technology, with street-level shopfronts, overhead offices and basement warehouse space.

The Rialto building was one of the finest examples of 19th century design and a symbol of commercial modernity. With a unique adjoining laneway connecting them, the Rialto and Winfield buildings were perfectly designed for the new commercial centre of Melbourne.

These magnificent buildings were transformed by InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, with our hotel opening in December 2008. The Rialto building is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register and protected by the National Trust of Australia (Victoria).

1880s – “Marvellous Melbourne” was a popular way to describe our city dating back to around 1880 when Melbourne started to grow and develop into a major world city as a result of the gold rush. The name is still in use today. During this time Melbourne rapidly expanded and the population increased to reach just short of 500,000 by 1890, pushing Melbourne to become the second largest city in the empire after London.


1889 – Melbourne’s first electric tram began operations


1890 – William Pitt designed the Rialto building as a state of art office building


1891 – The Wool Exchange building was designed by architects Charles d’Ebro and Richard Speight


1970s – The buildings were purchased by The Grollo Group and underwent renovation


1984 – The Menzies at Rialto hotel opened


2006 – Hotel management taken over by InterContinental Hotels Group and an extensive $50 million luxury refurbishment took place


2008 –InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto opens


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