Roman Bridges

Ancient Roman bridges represent one of the greatest wonders of the Ancient World. They were an exceptional feat of Roman construction. The Romans were undoubtedly the first people to build large and lasting bridges. During the Roman period, bridge building techniques were revolutionised with the introduction of arches by which enabled the Romans to erect structures of great beauty and solidity. Most utilised concrete which the Romans were the first to use for bridges. With such powerful knowledge, Roman road builders spread across Europe, Asia and Africa, building over 900 bridges during the Roman Republic and Empire.

A list of Roman bridges compiled by the engineer Colin O’Connor features 330 Roman stone bridges for traffic, 34 Roman timber bridges and 54 Roman aqueduct bridges, a substantial part still standing and even used to carry vehicles. A more complete survey by the Italian scholar Vittorio Galliazzo found 931 Roman bridges, mostly made of stone, in as many as 26 different countries, from Portugal on the west, to Syria on the east (see List of Roman Bridges).

Testament of the building techniques of Ancient Rome can be witnessed even today with hundreds bridges still standing. The following list includes all the surviving remains of Roman bridges I have seen and photographed. They are listed by country of origin.

 


croatia

Roman bridge of Salona (43°32’18.3″N 16°29’01.4″E)

In the east suburb of Salona, outside the walls enclosing the old city, the Urbs vetus, the westernmost backwater of the Jadro (the ancient Salon) was flowing. In the 1st century BC it was spanned by a five-arch bridge supported by massive pillars. It was constructed from finely chiselled stone blocks arranged in a regular pattern and bound with mortar. The bridge was situated on an important regional road which was a continuation of the old city’s main communication, the decumanus maximus.

FRANCE

Pont Julien (43°51’45.33″N 5°18’23.68″E)

The Pont Julien, owning its name to the nearby city of Julia Apta (modern-day Apt), is a beautiful three-arched bridge spanning the Calavon River. Today, it is located close to the town of Bonnieux. It was originally built in 3 BC on the Via Domitia, an important Roman road that connected Italy and Spain through the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis.

Pont Flavien (43°32’29.0″N 5°02’35.0″E)

The Pont Flavien, with its surviving triumphal arches at each end, is one of the most beautiful surviving Roman bridges outside Italy.
The Pont Flavien stands near the modern town of Saint-Chamas and consists of a single arch spanning the Toulourde River on the Via Julia Augusta. The name “Flavien” refers to a local Roman-Gaul aristocrat called Lucius Donnius Flavius, and an inscription on the bridge itself states that it was built at his instigation.

The Pont Tibère at Sommières (43°46′55.97″N, 4°5′2015″E)

The Pont Tibère (Tiberius Bridge) is a Roman bridge crossing the Vidourle river in Sommières in the Gard department. It was built under the reign of Tiberius on the Via Luteva linking Nemausus (Nîmes) to Tolosa (Toulouse).
It initially consisted of 17 arches, of which only 7 are now visible. It had a total length of 190 meters. During the Middle Ages, numerous arches were absorbed into the city’s structure. Today they serve as cellars.

Roman Bridge at Vaison-la-Romaine (44°14′20.24″N, 5°4′28.88″E)

The Roman bridge at Vaison-la-Romaine was built in the first century BC. It spans the Ouvèze River, linking the lower part of the city to the upper medieval part of town. The bridge is unique due to its semicircular 17 meters arch.

Pont Ambroix (43°43′1.92″N, 4°9′6.84″E)

The Pont Ambroix or Pont d’Ambrussum was a 1st-century BC Roman bridge which was part of the Via Domitia. The Ambroix Bridge is unquestionably the most spectacular ruin of Ambrussum, a Gallo-Roman archaeological site which has revealed an exceptional collection of buildings from the Gallic and Roman periods.
The Pont Ambroix is an impressive work of engineering, which allowed the Via Domitia to cross the Vidourle River. It is thought to have had 11 arches and to have been over 175 meters in length.

Pont Romain de Viviers (44°29’18.2″N 4°40’19.4″E)

The Pont romain de Viviers crosses the Escoutay River on the right bank of the Rhône near the town of Viviers in Ardèche. It was built in the 2nd or 3rd century AD on the road that linked the ancient city of Vivarium to Alba Helviorum (modern-day Alba-la-Romaine).

germany

Römerbrücke in Trier (49°45′6.84″N, 6°37′35.4″E)

The Roman Bridge in Trier spans the Moselle. It is the oldest standing bridge in Germany. The nine bridge pillars date from the 2nd century AD. The upper part was renewed twice, in the early 12th and in the early 18th century, after suffering destruction in war. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site.

greece

Roman bridge of Patras (38°16’02.1″N 21°45’19.4″E)

The Roman Bridge of Patras was constructed between the 2nd and 3rd century AD over the Kallinaos river which flow has moved 100m further south. It is a part of a complex of two smaller bridges; a single-arched one and a two-arched bridge constructed later. It is considered to be the best preserved bridge of its type in Greece. It was part of the public road that connected Patras and Aigio. The road that goes over the bridge was paved with stone-slabs in which the wheel-tracks (armatotrohies) made from the chariots are still visible. On both sides there were low walls for the protection of the pedestrians.

ISRAEL

Roman bridge at Beth-She’an (32°30’25.6″N 35°29’44.6″E)

The ruins of the Roman bridge, a triple arched bridge crossing the Nahal Harod, Scythopolis (Beth-She’an).

italy

Ponte di Tiberio at Rimini (44°3′49.28″N, 12°33′49.16″E)

The Bridge of Tiberius in Rimini features five semicircular arches with an average span length of ca. 8 m. Construction work started during Augustus’ reign and was finished under his successor Tiberius in 20 AD; an inscription thus calls the structure as “given by both emperors”.

Ponte Pietra at Verona (45°26′51.72″N, 10°59′ 59.64″E)

The Ponte Pietra (Italian for “Stone Bridge”), once known as the Pons Marmoreus, is a Roman arch bridge crossing the Adige River in Verona. The bridge was completed in 100 BC, and the Via Postumia from Genua to the Brenner Pass passed over it.

Roman bridge near Birori, Sardinia (40°15’7.86″N 8°50’54.14″E)

Roman bridge near Birori on the road from Olbia to Forum Traiani, Sardinia.

Roman bridge near Usellus, Sardinia (39°48’44.71″N 8°50’57.69″E)

This bridge is located in the suburbs of Usellus in the interior of Sardinia. It spanned a stream close to the colony of Uselis, a city founded in the late-Republican period and raised to a colony in the Imperial Age with the name of “Iulia Augusta Uselis” as recorded by the geographer Ptolemy.

Pont’Ecciu in Allai, Sardinia (39°57’43″N 8°51’40″E)

In the small farming community of Allai, once at a crossing point between Forum Traiani and the interior of the island, lays a Roman bridge built in local red trachyte stone and dating back to the 1st century AD.
Spanning the river Flumineddu, this Roman bridge with seven arches was restored and enlarged in 1157 during the period of the Giudicati. The first structure presumably had only four arches.

Roman bridge at Santa Giusta, Sardinia (39°52’11.13″N 8°36’32.25″E)

Remains of the roman bridge at Santa Giusta on the road from Othoca to Carales, Sardinia.

Pontimannu in Sant’Antioco, Sardinia (39°3’30″N 8°28’12″E)

The Roman bridge on the island of Sant’Antioco, known as “Pontimannu” (big bridge) is unique on the island. It allowed the ancient centre of Sulci to be connected to the mainland.
The bridge is 120 m long and about 5.5 m wide with two barrel-vaulted arches about 5.0 m large made of square blocks of sandstone. It undergone numerous and substantial restoration up until the 18th century.

Roman bridge Tramatza, Sardinia (39°59’51.67″N 8°39’1.83″E)

Roman bridge on the road from Forum Traiani to Othoca, 1st century BC – 1st century AD, Tramatza, Sardinia.

Ponte sul Mannu at Porto Torres, Sardinia (40°50’10.26″N  8°23’29.57″E)

The bridge at Porto Torres stretches for 135 m from east to west and is 8 m wide. It was built after the foundation of Turris Libisonis in the first century AD to link the city to the silver mines and grain fields of Nurra (Sardinia was important to the Roman grain supply as mosaics from Ostia attest). The 135m long bridge slopes sharply, due to the different heights of the river banks. On the east side of the bridge you can still see a part of the original road surface.

Pont’Ezzu near Ozieri, Sardinia (40°05’54.0″N 8°39’56.0″E)

This bridge is a remarkable example of monumental architecture and is one of the largest and best preserved Roman bridge on the island of Sardinia. It dates to the 2nd century AD and was restored in the 3rd–4th century AD. It had six arches decreasing from the center to the sides and was still in used until the 1950’s.

Pont’Ezzu near Mores, Sardinia (40°31’42.59″N 8°52’34.60″E)

In the region of Mores, the remnants of the Roman bridge Pont’Ezzu bear witness to the importance of the territory as a major crossroads. During the Roman period the area was particularly densely-inhabited and Hafa (modern-day Mores) was an important centre, especially thanks to the dense communication network that passed through the area. The two surviving arches of Pont’Ezzu date back to the first century AD.

Pons Aelius (Ponte Sant’Angelo) in Rome (41°54′ 6″N, 12°27′59.25″E)

Pons Aelius (Bridge of Hadrian) was completed in 134 AD by Hadrian, to span the Tiber, from the city center to his newly constructed mausoleum, now the towering Castel Sant’Angelo. The bridge is faced with travertine marble and spans the Tiber with five arches, three of which are Roman; it was approached by means of ramp from the river.

Pons Aemilius in Rome (41°53′ 22″N, 12°28′46″E)

Pons Aemilius was the first stone bridge across the Tiber. Preceded by a wooden version, it was rebuilt in stone in the 2nd century BC. It once spanned the Tiber, connecting the Forum Boarium with Trastevere; a single arch in mid-river is all that remains today.

Pons Cestius in Rome (41°53′24.8″N, 12°28′38″E)

The Pons Cestius (Italian: Ponte Cestio, meaning “Cestius’ Bridge”) is a Roman stone bridge in Rome, Italy, spanning the Tiber to the west of the Tiber Island. The original version of this bridge was built around the 1st century BC (some time between 62 and 27 BC). In the 4th century the Pons Cestius was rebuilt by the Emperors Valentinian I, Valens and Gratian and re-dedicated in 370 as the Pons Gratiani. The bridge was rebuilt using tuff and peperino, with a facing of travertine.

Pons Fabricius in Rome (41°53′ 28″N, 12°28′42″E)

The Pons Fabricius, named from its builder, L. Fabricius, is the oldest Roman bridge in Rome still existing in its original state. Built in 62 BC, it spans half of the Tiber River, from the Campus Martius on the east side to Tiber Island in the middle. The Pons Fabricius has a length of 62 m, and is 5.5 m wide. It is constructed from two wide arches, supported by a central pillar in the middle of the stream. Its core is constructed of tuff. Its outer facing today is made of bricks and travertine.

Ponte sul Rubicone in Savignano sul Rubicone (44°05’33.3″N 12°23’45.1″E)

The three-arched Roman bridge over the Rubicon river at Savignano. The exact date of construction of the current bridge is unknown but probably dates from the era of Augustus or Tiberius. The small bridge (ponticulum) of Caesar, as mentioned by Suetonius, was most likely made of wood.

portugal

Ponte da Vila Formosa (39°12’58.4″N 7°47’05.7″W)

Of the numerous Roman bridges in Portugal, the most outstanding is that of Vila Formosa, a 116 meter long bridge spanning over the river Seda.
This bridge, dating back to the late 1st century / early 2nd century AD, is one of the best preserved bridges throughout the Iberian Peninsula. It wasssss located on the way which connected Olisipo (Lisbon) to Augusta Emerita (Mérida, Spain), the via publicae. It was built in thick cut stonework and granite panels opus quadratum.

Ponte Romana de Segura (39°49’02.8″N 6°58’56.1″W)

The Roman bridge of Segura was built in the early 2nd century AD under Trajan on the route that linked Augusta Emerita and Egitania (Idanha-a-Velha). It consists of five arches barrel vault, the three central ones, having been rebuilt in the sixteenth century by Portuguese masons. The Roman bridge of Segura now connects Spain with Portugal.

Ponte da Ladeira dos Envendos near Mação (39°37’27.4″N 7°51’05.1″W)

The Ponte da Ladeira dos Envendos was part of the Roman province road that linked Aritium Vetus (Alvega) to Salmantia (Salamanca, Spain). The ancient bridge over the river Ribeira da Pracana is about 40 meters long and has six arches of different spans and arrows. Ponte da Ladeira dos Envendos was built between the 1st century BC and 1st century AD.

Ponte de Vila Ruiva near Cuba (38°15’34.9″N 7°56’45.6″W)

The Ponte de Vila Ruiva, spanning the river Odivelas near Cuba in the District of Beja, belonged to the ancient Roman road which connected Ossonoba (Faro) and Pax Iulia (Beja) bound for Ebora (Évora) and Augusta Emerita. Ponte de Vila Ruiva presents several construction phases. It is assumed that the original structure, made of granite, dates back to between the 1st century BC and 1st century AD. Reconstructions on the bridge were undertaken in the 5th century and 11th century, using ancient and new materials. Ponte de Vila Ruiva is still in use today.

Ponte dos Três Concelhos in Ribeira da Isna (39°44’08.0″N 8°03’18.0″W)

The Ponte dos Três Concelhos, spanning the river Ribeira de Isna, is a three-arched Roman bridge. This bridge was part of a Roman road that connected Augusta Emerita (Merida, Spain) to Conimbriga. It was probably built between the 1st and the 4th century and rebuilt between the 13th and the 14th century.

Ponte Romana de Idanha-a-Velha (39°59’43.8″N 7°08’31.6″W)

On the banks of the river Pônsul, ca. 50 km from Castelo Branco, the Roman town of Igaeditania (Idanha-a-Velha) became a municipium in the time of the Flavians. A road from Augusta Emerita to Igaeditania run across the Roman bridge crossing the Pônsul which seems to have been constructed in 5 or 6 AD, when Augustus set the limits of the civitates of the region. Igaeditania was thus an important road center. The bridge was reconstructed several times across the centuries. What we see now is mainly the result of a reconstruction from Middle Ages.

Roman Bridge at Miróbriga (38°00’36.5″N 8°41’04.1″W)

At Mirobriga Celticorum, a Roman town located south-west of Portugal near the coast, lay a small single-arch bridge that provided access along the west-east road leading to the forum and the Imperial temple of the Roman town. The bridge was made of irregular limestone, opus incertum. The original paving of the bridge is still visible.

Roman Pier Bridge of Myrtilis in Mértola (37°38’08.7″N 7°39’51.1″W)

In Mértola (Roman Myrtilis), an important ancient port on the River Guardiana, stand the remains of imposing piers of a bridge lined up in the late Roman period to give access to a River Tower. The tower controlled one of the most important entries into the city. An access route, built on a solid series of arches, allowed the tower to connect with the interior of the City Walls.

Puente romano de Monforte (39°03’26.2″N 7°26’39.4″W)

This seven-arched Roman granite bridge spans the Ribeira Grande river. It was part of two Roman state roads, the 325 km long via publicae from Olisipo (Lisbon) via Aritium Vetus (Alvega) to Emerita (Spain, Mérida) and the 230 km long via publicae from Olisipo (Lisbon) via Abelterio (age Do Chão) to Emerita (Spain, Mérida). This bridge is commonly named as “Roman”, yet several architectonic details indicate a more recent construction, probably built over a Roman construction and re-utilizing Roman materials.

SPAIN

Roman Bridge over the Albarregas River in Mérida (38°55’25.9″N 6°20’57.0″W)

Built when the Roman city of Emerita Augusta was founded, the bridge on the Albarregas River is still in perfect condition. It has four granite ashlar arches, with two wider arches which are the overflow channel of the aqueduct. It is parallel to Los Milagros aqueduct.

Roman Bridge over the Guadiana River in Mérida (38°54′47.02″N, 6°21′2.99″W)

The Roman bridge over the Guadiana River at Mérida is the world’s longest surviving bridge from ancient times, having once featured an estimated overall length of 755 m with 62 spans. Today, there are 60 spans (three of which are buried on the southern bank) on a length of 721 m between the abutments. Including the approaches, the structure totals 790 m. It is still in use, but was pedestrianized in 1991. The layout and most of the primitive manufacture were carried in the time of Augustus and was renovated at different times.

Puente de Carmona (37°28’34.8″N 5°37’28.7″W)

The Roman bridge at Carmona, which consists of five arches, is still in use today thanks to various renovations over the years. Surrounded by green, rolling hills, this excellent example of Roman engineering sits along the ancient Via Augusta, a Roman commercial route that snaked along the east coast of the Iberian Peninsula.

Roman Bridge of Córdoba (37°52’37.2″N 4°46’42.1″W)

The Roman bridge of Córdoba is a bridge originally built in the early 1st century BC across the Guadalquivir river, perhaps replacing a previous wooden one. The bridge has been reconstructed at various times since and most of the present structure dates from the Moorish reconstruction in the 8th century.

Puente romano de Villa del Rio (37°59’13.5″N 4°16’15.6″W)

The Roman Bridge of Villa del Río spans the stream Salado de Porcuna a few kilometers from its mouth in the River Guadalquivir. From its construction in the 1st century AD (although there are doubts about its exact chronology) it gave continuity to the Via Augusta. The bridge, built in opus quadratum, was in use until 1965.

Puente Romano de Andújar (38°01’56.6″N 4°03’42.9″W)

The Bridge of Andújar is a Roman bridge located to the exit of Andújar, province of Jaén (Spain). It is a bridge of great historical value and crosses the river Guadalquivir. It was built in the beginning of the 3rd century AD and, since then, it has been an essential communication route of the valley of the Guadalquivir river. Nowadays it is a bridge with 14 hollows, and barrel vaults. The bridge has a total length of 310 m. It has three alignments, the central one still being originally conserved from Roman times. Due to its current use, its state of conservation is inadequate.

Puente romano sobre el arroyo Pedroches (Córdoba) (37°54’14.73″N 4°45′ 22.28″W)

The Roman bridge over the Pedroches stream in Cordoba was probably located on the road which linked Córdoba and Merida. It was built between 27 and 81 AD. The bridge consists of three semicircular arches measuring 4.75 m (central arch) and 2 m (sides arches).

turkey

Eurymedon Bridge near Aspendos (36°54′51.23″N, 31°9′46.79″E)

The Eurymedon Bridge was a late Roman bridge over the river Eurymedon (modern Köprüçay), near Aspendos, in Pamphylia. The foundations and other stone blocks (spolia) of the Roman structure were used by the Seljuqs to build a replacement bridge in the 13th century, the Köprüpazar Köprüsü, which stands to this day. This bridge is characterized by a significant displacement along its mid-line, noticeable by looking at its ancient piers. Originally, the bridge had a length of 259.50 m and a width of 9.44 m, and had nine semicircular arches.

Eurymedon Bridge near Selge (37°11’31.2″N 31°10’51.6″E)

The Eurymedon Bridge near Selge a Roman bridge over the river Eurymedon in Pisidia . It is part of the road winding up from the coastal region Pamphylia to the Pisidian hinterland. The excellently preserved structure is 14 m long and 3.5 m wide (with a roadway of 2.5 m). The clear span of its single arch is c. 7 m, the thickness of its voussoirs, which were set without the use of mortar, 60 cm. The building technique and the sturdy stonework point to a construction date in the 2nd century AD, a time when Selge was flourishing.

Laodicea Bridge (37°50’09.8″N 29°06’33.0″E)

The remains of the four large piers of the Laodicea bridge crossing the Asopus River.

Nysa Bridge (37°54′12.26″N, 28°8′43.85″E)

The Nysa Bridge is a late imperial Roman bridge over the Cakircak stream in Nysa in the ancient region of Caria. The 100 m (328 ft) long substructure was the second largest of its kind in antiquity, after the Pergamon Bridge. It was built as a two-level structure: the bottom vault spanned the brook. It consists of a single, 5.7 m (19 ft) wide vault whose uphill mouth widens to 7 m (23 ft).

UNITED KINGDOM

Chesters Bridge on Hadrian’s Wall (55°01’31.2″N 2°08’08.0″W)

Chesters Bridge was a Roman bridge over the River North Tyne at Chollerford, and adjacent to Chesters Roman fort on Hadrian’s Wall. A shift in the course of the Tyne has moved the river westwards about 20 m, completely covering or sweeping away much of the west abutment, leaving the eastern abutment high, if not always dry, on the other bank.

Willowford Roman Bridge on Hadrian’s Wall (54°59’28.9″N 2°35’31.8″W)

On the east bank of the River Irthing stand the remains of a Roman bridge built on the line of Hadrioan’s Wall. The bridge is now completely on dry land, and a modern footbridge takes walkers across the river and along an extremely well-preserved section of Hadrian’s Wall to Birdoswald Roman Fort a short distance away.
Willowford bridge was built as part of Hadrian’s Wall, around 122 AD. The bridge was built in two phases; the first was fairly narrow, and is represented by the abutment and foundations on the east shore. Nearby is a huge pier which helped support a second, wider bridge.

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2 thoughts on “Roman Bridges

  1. The Romans were fantastic builders,especially of bridges. One only has to visit some of these archaeological sites to witness their splendor.. Once again thanks for these wonderful photo’s Carole.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is an exceptional collection of photographs celebrating the engineering 20 centuries before us. One wonders how long modern structures may endure. Probably not as long as the stones of Rome.

    Liked by 1 person

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