Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Chaves' Roman Bridge - Portugal

This is probably, one of the most photographed bridges in Portugal. I've been to Chaves a couple of years ago a took quite a few pictures too. I'm actually considering a visit to this city in a few days. I wanted to go there last month to attend a postcrossing meeting but it wasn't possible. Anyway, a got a card signed by a lot of postcrossers, thanks to Sofia. The other 2 were sent by Paula and Emanuel over the last years. 

The Roman Bridge at Chaves, also known as Trajano bridge as a reference to Trajan, is an ancient bridge located in the north of Portugal in the town of the same name.

The bridge which is in relatively good shape unites the two most important parishes in the town. The bridge is 140 meters long, high and has 12 visible arches. Although the bridge spanning the Minho in Ourense is longer and higher, this example of Roman architecture is even today a masterpiece of construction.
Two of the columns of the original bridge, built by the Emperor Trajan, still stand. They are stout cylindrical columns with details of the honors bestowed by the emperor on local governors or generals clearly legible on them. They were also milestones indicating distances to the important settlements of Astorga in Spanish León and Bracara Augusta, Braga, in Portugal.

Photo by Oswaldo Santos
The bridge was built between the end of the first century and the beginning of the second century AD. Little is known about the exact dates of the beginning or conclusion of construction. However, it is known that slaves captured from the peoples inhabiting the region worked on the bridge. This appears to be written on one of the columns placed in the middle of the bridge. These columns were not here originally. One of them mentions the construction of the bridge, referring to the reign of the emperor Trajan; the other was taken from the Roman road leading up to the bridge.
Allowing the river to be crossed at any time of the year, the bridge was an important factor of development for the town, but it was also necessary and useful for the Pax Romana: here there were hot springs visited by a lot of people; in the region there were mines with precious metals, whose product was taken to Rome; across the bridge passed the important Roman road of Braga to Astorga, with a lot of traffic; and lastly here was quartered a numerous detachment of legionnaires of the Roman army.

Fotografia: Oswaldo Santos - www.papyrus.pt
The bridge has suffered many modifications, for restoration and conservation. The fortified tower that was built at the entrance was long ago demolished and the stone sides were substituted by iron. The span was widened and footpaths put in. The floor, originally covered by large granite blocks, now is covered by paving stones. - in: wikipedia

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