A Tourist in Rome - Pons Aemilius
|Location:||Next to the Ponte Palatino bridge over the Tiber River, near Santa Maria in Cosmedin|
|Metro:||Circo Massimo and Bus #160, or see it on my To the Forum Boarium and Beyond Walking Tour instead|
|Time:||about 10 minutes|
|Hours:||Viewable at any time; I don't know whether it's lit at night|
The Pons Aemilius (Ponte Emilio), now called the Ponte Rotto ("Broken bridge"), is the oldest surviving bridge in Rome. It was the first stone bridge across the Tiber River, begun in 179 BC, to replace a wooden bridge. Construction was supervised by two censors: Marcus Aemilius Laepidus and Marcus Fulvius Nobilior. It was completed in 142 BC, having taken so long because it was the first of its kind built in Rome. It was named after one of the supervisors. Since the bridge was built at a bend in the river where the water turbulence is stronger, the bridge was subject to extreme wear and had to be restored by Augustus in 12 BC, only two centuries after it had been built. It was renamed as Pons Maximus, to remark on its length; it was the longest of Rome's ancient bridges. In the 13th century, the bridge collapsed after having served for over 1200 years. The rebuilt bridge was badly damaged by floods in 1557. It was repaired, but in 1598, floods swept away two supporting piers and three of the arches, and it was never fully repaired again. In 1887, most of the rest of the bridge was destroyed during blasting to build the new banks of the river, leaving behind only one arch, which remains in the river. It is most easily observed from the Ponte Palatino which runs next to it.