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Italy: Bridge of Tiberius

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Bridge of Tiberius | Italy | Europe

[Visited: June 2012]

My friends in Milan suggested that I visit the old Roman Bridge of Tiberius on my way to San Marino, so when the train pulled into Rimini station on time, I decided to take a later bus up to the small state west of Rimini, discovered that the bridge was not far, and walked to the Marecchia river. Once called the Ariminus, which also lent its name to the popular sea-side city of Rimini, it flows north-east from Tuscany; when I reached it, I turned left (south-west), descended the stairway, and walked along the river from there. Behind a more modern bridge, I could already see the arches of the 2,000 year old Roman Bridge of Tiberius.

Picture of Bridge of Tiberius (Italy): Side view of the Bridge of Tiberius

It was Emperor August himself who started construction of the bridge, which was completed under the reign of Tiberius, in 20 CE. It has gained fame especially because it is still much like it was after completion - despite climate, earthquakes, floods, wars, and other factors that might normally defeat structures. Even the retreating German army, which managed to destroy all bridges over the Marecchia river, failed to also destroy the Bridge of Tiberius, despite using explosives: apparently, old quality never dies. Sure enough, when I got close to the bridge, it was easy to see even for a casual onlooker that this is a sturdy bridge indeed. Built in Istrian stone and marble, the Bridge of Tiberius is supported by five semi-circular arches. I walked past the bridge, down to the pool of the Marecchia river (which, as far as I could see, did not continue past here), and was now as close as I could get to the bridge.

Picture of Bridge of Tiberius (Italy): Arch of the Bridge of Tiberius

I could now see the decorations on the face of the bridge, with tympanum and pillars. Walking around the pool, a frontal view of the bridge was unfortunately limited because of a fence; I continued walking to the other side, until I had reached the road running over the bridge. Even after all those years, the bridge is open, and bar heavy vehicles, can be used by motorized traffic as well. It is still used for its original purpose: linking the city centre and the suburb of Borgo San Giuliano. It originally linked Rimini to Piacenza on the Via Aemilia, and to Ravenna on the Popilius. The surface is now asphalt, so those driving over it might not even realize the rich history of the bridge. However, when you walk, you can see remnants of inscriptions on the inside of the bridge, indicating that August started building it, and Tiberius finished it; it is therefore sometimes also called the Bridge of August. Happy that I had followed the advice of my friends, I now walked right into the historic centre of Rimini where I had a yummy piadina before continuing to my destination of the day.

Picture of Bridge of Tiberius (Italy): Three of the five arches of the Bridge of Tiberius
Picture of Bridge of Tiberius (Italy): Carved detail in the Bridge of Tiberius
Picture of Bridge of Tiberius (Italy): View of the Bridge of Tiberius from the southern side
Picture of Bridge of Tiberius (Italy): The Bridge of Tiberius is still in use by modern traffic
Picture of Bridge of Tiberius (Italy): The original Bridge of Tiberius with Rimini in the background
Picture of Bridge of Tiberius (Italy): Close-up of inscription stating that Emperor August started the construction of the Bridge of Tiberius
Picture of Bridge of Tiberius (Italy): Marecchia and Bridge of Tiberius

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