Roman Bridge of Cordoba
This section aims at analysing interesting monuments and places, which are not as relevant as the previous ones, but they still could be interesting for tourists. Starting with this idea, and as we think it should be, we start our tour with the so-called “Roman".
We say so-called Roman Bridge because, as Miguel Ángel Ortí Belmonte tells, only the design and the foundations are preserved from Roman times.
Aulo Hircio, Captain and historian of Caesar’s war against Pompey’s sons, where our city supported the side of the latter, told the episode of the moment when Caesar entered the city: "Having arrived Caesar… he ordered to put great baskets full of stones in it, over which a bridge was erected… and the troops crossed it up to three times". From the idea that Caesar had to build a provisional bridge to cross the river and thus enter the city, we can think that there was not any bridge whatsoever, and most probably, the one we are talking about was built years later, in times of Emperor Augustus, when our city was granted the rank of Colonia Patricia.
The Romans were, as in many other kinds of buildings, experts in erecting bridges over rivers. The first step was to choose its correct location, and, as in other examples preserved in our country, they chose the lowest part of the meander, next to Martos Water mill, looking for the deepest riverbed. The result was a bridge made in limestone (which, by the way, could be easily eroded) from the mountains, consisting of sixteen round arches supported by strong pillars with circular and angled cutwaters.
There is documental evidence of the bridge in times of Arab occupation. A text by Ajbar Madmua is particularly interesting, where he tells about the rainy night when the troops from the north of Africa crossed the bridge to enter the city. During that period, the bridge experienced numerous reparations, some due to the continuous rises of the river, others due to the natural fragility of the material used. We even know that it was impossible to cross it for some years, up to the point of carrying the dead in boats to the Arab cemetery of the suburb, located on the other bank of the river.
In medieval Christian times, as Beatriz Sánchez tells, the bridge was seen as an essential location; therefore they tried to preserve it to a great extent.
In the middle of the 17th century, a plague epidemics broke out in the city, causing a great impact on the population. When it subsided, an image of Archangel San Rafael was located in the bridge, made by sculptor Bernabé del Río, with the iniciative of Father Juan Bautista Caballero. Under it, a white marble plaque reads: "To the great glory of God and cult of our Saint Guardian, the guild of tanners and glove makers renewed this holy image… 10th September 1789". It is the archangel which is closest to the people, and for this reason it is surrounded by a thick cloud of red candles, all of them consumed, which is a clear reflection of the affection and the deepest devotion the people of Córdoba feel for him.
For many years, our city was in debt with the Roman Bridge. Together with the terrible “restorations” carried out at the beginning of the 20th century, we must add the bad conservation state, both materials as visual or even acoustic, I would say… Besides, not long ago all kinds of vehicles crossed it, even heavy “urban buses”.
On 9th January 2008 the bridge was opened again after a long restoration period, not free of controversy, partly reasonable, which aimed at giving it back its original appearance. We should mention that the wayside cross dedicated to San Acisclo and Santa Victoria, patron saints of the city, has been recovered, which had been located for many years opposite the mentioned image of Archangel San Rafael.
If you wish to know the Roman Bridge of Córdoba do not hesitate to hire one of our guided tours. We are experts in the interpretation of the historical heritage from Córdoba. If you have chosen to do sightseeing in Córdoba, choose a high quality option, choose ArtenCórdoba.