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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
|Pont du Gard
|Ponte di Tiberio
|Unknown (1000 B.C.)
|about 1350-1190 B.C.
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