Exploring Rome’s Historic Bridges

Vatican Tours
May 2 · 3 min read

The mighty Roman Empire controlled vast territories; it was bordered by Scotland in the North and Egypt in the South, it stretched from Syria in east to Portugal in west. The capital of this colossal empire, Rome, was also called ‘caput mundi’ meaning the ‘head of the world’. It was the foremost metropolis city in the world and was inhabited by over a million residents. In addition, the capital saw a constant inflow of travellers, soldiers, ambassadors and traders.

However, the great Eternal City was divided into two halves by the course of Tiber River. For Rome to be recognized as the headquarters of such a powerful empire and for effortless business activities, the west and east banks of the river had to be linked. Hence, several arch bridges were constructed for bridging this divide. There were additional challenges too, like withstanding heavy footfall and seasonal floods. But these were well tackled by the Romans, who were world-famous for their architectural and engineering prowess.

Rome’s pontes aren’t only a display of their technical superiority, they look impressive and very rewarding to explore.

Pons Aemilius or Ponte Rotto

Ponte Palatino, located at the bend of Trastevere, was constructed in 1887 in place of the partially ruined Pons Aemilius. The ruins of this republican era bridge can still be seen from Ponte Palatino. It was originally constructed in 179 BC using timber and in 142 BC arches were added to strengthen its structure. This essential bridge linking the west bank of the Tiber to the marketplaces on the east bank was one of the first three-arch bridges; however it was very disaster-prone. In 1598, a horrible flood washed away a big portion of the bridge and during the construction of Ponte Palatino, the remaining portion was demolished.

Cestius Bridge

To visit the charming neighbourhood and social hub of Rome, Trastevere, you need to take Pons Cestius from the Tiber Island. This ancient bridge was constructed sometime in the 40s BC and named after Gaius Cestius, whose funeral tomb is located in the city centre. It has been repaired many times throughout Rome’s history. The modern bridge is a complete reconstruction that happened in the nineteenth century when the channel along Tiber River was broadened. But, the bridge preserves some of the original materials in its centre portion, which was sourced from Theatre of Marcellus.

To keep reading more about Rome’s major pontes, click here: best-of-rome.blogspot.com/2018/02/a-day-tour-of-romes-ancient-bridges.html?view=magazine

If you want to behold these ancient bridges and get a taste of Rome’s grand history, get in touch with Vatican Tours. We offer the best family tours in Rome, ensuring a heart-warming and memorable trip for you entire clan.