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"Broken Bridge" Top 5 Page for this destination Isola Tiberina Tip by von.otter

Isola Tiberina, Rome: 26 reviews and 43 photos

  Ponte Rotto, May 2007
by von.otter

A little ways to the south of the Tiber Island in the middle of the river stands a large ruin; it is the only surviving arch of an old bridge. Its upper part still shows, in relief form a winged dragon, which is the coat-of-arms of Pope Gregory XIII (1502–1585). Over the centuries it has been called by different names; today it is commonly known as Ponte Rotto, Broken Bridge.

On this crucial location the two sides of the River Tiber have been in connection since the third century BC. Originally, there was a wooden bridge at this point. At the start of the second century BC it was destroyed by flood; it took over 35 years to replace it with Rome's first stone bridge. It was also the longest at 165 yards, earning it the name Pons Maximus.

Because the bridge is located where the river bends, the water's turbulence is stronger; the bridge was subject to heavier than normal wear. Two centuries after its was completed, the first of major restoration work was carried out, under Emperor Augustus.

The stone structure kept suffering damages from the strong flow of water; in the 13th century it collapsed again.

By the Renaissance, the span was known as Santa Maria Bridge. Restoration had been carried out shortly before it was completely swept away by a flood in 1557. Pope Gregory XIII rebuild it, 25 years later! On Christmas Eve 1598 the worst flood Rome's history, water rose over 16.5 feet above street level, smashed the bridge’s eastern arches.

For almost three hundred years that bridge was left broken, giving rise to its name. In 1853 Pope Pius IX used the bridge's ruminants to support an iron footbridge. But it was not stable, and in 1887 the footbridge was dismantled and a modern traffic bridge was built directly next to it, called Ponte Palatino.


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  • Updated Nov 30, 2007
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