Ponte Rotto: The Bridge to Nowhere

1024px-Roma-ponterotto01You’re probably familiar with the great architecture of Rome, like the Colosseum and the Pantheon. Millions of tourists flock to the city each year just to catch a glimpse of these great works. However, you may not have heard of the Ponte Rotto, or broken bridge.

Originally named the Pons Aemilius, it was built in 179 B.C. and is one of the only remaining examples of Roman Republican architecture. It was constructed to connect the cattle farm on the eastern bank with Trastevere on the western bank. However, no one has been able to cross it since Christmas Eve 1598, when floods carried the eastern part away.

Ancient Stone Masonry in the Ponte Rotto

What was really remarkable, though, was that it was one of the first stone Roman bridges. At the time, bridges were wooden and entirely supported on timber piles. Instead, the Pons Aemilius was constructed of a wooden roadbed, supported by five stone pillars.

The stone used was locally quarrified volcanic tufa, a form of volcanic ash. The stone was laid in ashlar masonry style, or an interlocking style of horizontal and vertical slabs set in parallel courses. To learn about the construction of the Pons Aemilius, more famously known as the Ponte Rotto, you can check out this detailed article by The Wall Street Journal.

The Ponte Rotto has a rich history of rebuilding and reconstruction, and has been witness to major events in Roman history. Throughout it all, it’s been a reminder of the past and a point of interest for artists through the ages.