The 11 Oldest Bridges in the World

Written by Patrick MacFarland
Published: December 8, 2023
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The history of this world is beautiful, complex, and absolutely monumental. Humans have been able to do extraordinary things. They have been able to build things that are just out of this world. In the early days of human civilization, people created buildings, roads, and bridges. These bridges connected one place to another and continue to serve that purpose today, bringing people together.

Let’s take a look at the 11 oldest bridges in the world. We will explore when they were built, where they are located, and fun facts about each of them.

11. Ponte Sant’Angelo

Tiber River in Rome, Italy: view of bridge Ponte Sant'Angelo; on background Saint Peter's Basilica.

The Ponte Sant’Angelo is also called the Aalian Bridge or the Pons Aelius.

©vololibero/iStock via Getty Images

Located in Rome, Italy, the Ponte Sant’Angelo crosses the Tiber River. At the time that it was built, the bridge crossed from the center of the city to the mausoleum of Roman Emperor Hadrian. It is 443 feet long and has five spans. Today, the bridge is a pedestrian-only crossing that features picture-perfect settings.

10. Alcántara Bridge

Alcántara Roman Bridge

The Alcántara Bridge is located in the town of Alcántara in Extremadura, Spain.

©Estellez/iStock via Getty Images

The bridge was constructed by the Romans during the height of the Roman Empire. The bridge was built between 104 to 106 C.E. and crossed the Tagus River. The Moors destroyed part of the bridge in 1214 and for centuries, the bridge was not usable due to the gap. Interestingly enough, the Spanish destroyed another part of the bridge in the 1760s to prevent the Portuguese from advancing during a war. The bridge remained like that (and was partly destroyed again by Carlists in the mid-1830s) until it was fully repaired in 1860.

9. Pont du Gard

Daytime at the Pont du Gard in Provence, France

In 1985 the bridge was selected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

©Bertl123/iStock via Getty Images

The Pont du Gard was built by the ancient Romans as an aqueduct bridge. It was used to carry water a whopping 31 miles to what is now the city of Nimes (which used to be called Nemausus). The bridge crossed the Gardon River, located in southern France, and was built using heavy stone blocks that were precisely cut. The Romans built many aqueducts throughout Europe, but the Pont du Gard has the distinction of being the tallest of the aqueducts. Today, millions of tourists visit the aqueduct bridge.

8. Ponte di Tiberio

Bridge of Tiberius (Ponte di Tiberio) in Rimini, Italy.

Also called the Bridge of Augustus, the Ponte di Tiberio is located in Rimini, Italy.

©Andrei Domanin/iStock via Getty Images

The bridge was constructed when Augustus was emperor, which is why the bridge is also called the Bridge of Augustus. He did not see it completed, as it was finished in 20 C.E. when Tiberius was emperor (thus naming the bridge after him). During the Battle of Rimini in 1944, the bridge was the only crossing that the German army did not destroy. Today, the bridge is open to pedestrians only as of May 30, 2020.

7. Pons Aemilius

The Pons Aemilius

The bridge is located in Rome, Italy, and was built around the year 2 B.C.

©dmitriymoroz/iStock via Getty Images

There was a wooden version of the bridge, but that was demolished and a stone bridge was constructed in its place. It originally spanned the entire Tiber River, which connected the Trastevere to the Roman cattle market. Over the years, the bridge was damaged and floods destroyed the eastern part of the bridge in the late 1500s. In 1887, much of the bridge was destroyed and today only has one arch. Italians refer to it as the Ponte Rotto, which is “Broken Bridge” in Italian.

6. Pont Julien

Pont Julien, roman stone arch bridge over Calavon river, Provence, France

The Pont Julien was built around the year 3 B.C. and is located in southeast France.

©phbcz/iStock via Getty Images

The Romans were ahead of their time. The Pont Julien is a stone arch bridge made by the Romans that spans over the Calavon River. The river is located in what is now the commune of Bonnieux. At the time that it was built, the bridge was used as a connection between Italy and the French-Roman territories. The bridge was used for cars up until 2005 and now only serves pedestrians and bicycles.

5. Pons Fabricius

Tiber Island and Fabricio's Bridge as seen from the riverside, Rome

The Pons Fabricius, otherwise known as Ponte dei Quattro Capi, is the oldest Roman bridge in Rome.

©e55evu/iStock via Getty Images

Built originally in 62 B.C., the Pons Fabricius spans from Campus Martius to Tiber Island in the middle of the Tiber River. The bridge is also known as the Ponte dei Quattro Capi because the bridge has two marble pillars of the two-faced Janus herms. The bridge was commissioned to replace a wooden bridge destroyed by a fire. The Pons Fabricius spans 203 feet. One of the first restorations took place in 1679, as inscribed in a plaque that was placed on the bridge.

4. Pons Milvius

Rome, Milvian Bridge

As has been a custom for several years now, people have been putting love locks on the bridge and the weight of them almost made it collapse. Putting locks now carries a 50 euro fine.

©cavallapazza/iStock via Getty Images

The Milvian Bridge, otherwise known as Pons Milvius, is located over the Tiber River in Rome, Italy. The bridge was an important part of the Roman Empire in the Rome area and it served a strategic and economic purpose. Furthermore, the bridge was built by Marcus Aemilius Scaurus in 109 B.C., demolishing an older bridge and building a stone one in its place. The famous Battle of the Milvian Bridge took place here in 312 C.E. After the bridge was damaged in 1849, Pope Pius IX repaired it a year later.

3. Caravan Bridge

Izmir, City, Waterfront, Night, Sea

The Caravan Bridge is located in Izmir, Turkey (pictured above), which is supposedly where the Ancient Greek author Homer was from.

©iStock.com/soner tuncer

This list provides you with two bridges that are older than the Caravan Bridge. However, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Caravan Bridge is the oldest dated bridge in the world. This means that the exact years are known when the bridge was built. The Caravan Bridge is made of stone slabs. Furthermore, the bridge’s purpose was to check anyone who entered the city of Izmir.

2. Tarr Steps

Clapper bridge over river in sunshine

The bridge is located inside Exmoor National Park in Somerset, England.

©LourdesPhotography/iStock via Getty Images

The Tarr Steps is an ancient clapper bridge that connected places across the Barle River. Clearly medieval, the bridge is 180 feet long and has 17 slabs that are built across the river for people to walk over. Moreover, it was mainly used for pedestrian use. Unfortunately, historians have only pointed out the rough timeframe of when it was built, but not much else. There is a legend that locals tell, which is that the Devil built the Tarr Steps so he could suntan on the stones.

1. Arkadiko Bridge

Arkadiko_bridge,_mycenaean,_Late_Heladic_age,_202418

The oldest bridge in the world is called Arkadiko Bridge and it’s also known as Kazarma Bridge.

©Zde, CC BY-SA 4.0 - License

Located in Argolis, Greece, the Arkadiko Bridge was built sometime between 1300 and 1190 B.C. It is made of limestone, other stones, and tiles. This bridge looks quite plain, but it was quite monumental in the times of the ancient Greeks. Furthermore, historians believe that it was used to carry chariots across between the cities of Epidaurus and Tiryns. Today, some vehicles still use the bridge, as well as pedestrians.

Summary of the 11 Oldest Bridges in the World

RankBridgeLocationYear(s) Built
11Ponte Sant’AngeloRome, Italy134 C.E.
10Alcántara BridgeAlcántara, Spain104-106 C.E.
9Pont du GardProvence, France40-60 C.E.
8Ponte di TiberioRome, Italy20 C.E.
7Pons AemiliusRome, Italy2 B.C.
6Pont JulienBonnieux, France3 B.C.
5Pons FabriciusRome, Italy62 B.C.
4Pons MilviusRome, Italy109 B.C.
3Caravan BridgeIzmir, Turkey850 B.C.
2Tarr StepsSomerset, UKUnknown (1000 B.C.)
1Arkadiko BridgeArgolis, Greeceabout 1350-1190 B.C.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Zde, CC BY-SA 4.0 – License / Original


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About the Author

Patrick Macfarland is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering travel, geography, and history. Patrick has been writing for more than 10 years. In the past, he has been a teacher and a political candidate. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from SDSU and a Master's Degree in European Union Studies from CIFE. From San Diego, California, Patrick loves to travel and try new recipes to cook.

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