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Pons Fabricius

Ponte Fabricio
Ponte dei Quattro Capi
Ponte Quattro Capi.jpg
The Pons Fabricius in 2008
Coordinates41°53′28″N 12°28′42″E / 41.89111°N 12.47833°E / 41.89111; 12.47833Coordinates: 41°53′28″N 12°28′42″E / 41.89111°N 12.47833°E / 41.89111; 12.47833
CarriesConnection Campus Martius-Tiber Island
CrossesTiber
LocaleRome, Italy
Characteristics
DesignArch bridge
MaterialStone and rock
Total length62 m (203 ft)
Width5.5 m (18 ft)
Height55.5 feet
Longest span24.5 m (80 ft)
No. of spans2
History
DesignerLucius Fabricius
Construction end62 BC
Location
Click on the map for a fullscreen view

The Pons Fabricius (Italian: Ponte Fabricio, "Fabrician Bridge") or Ponte dei Quattro Capi, is the oldest Roman bridge in Rome, Italy, still existing in its original state.[1] Built in 62 BC, it spans half of the Tiber River, from the Campus Martius on the east side to Tiber Island in the middle (the Pons Cestius is west of the island). Quattro Capi ("four heads") refers to the two marble pillars of the two-faced Janus herms on the parapet, which were moved here from the nearby Church of St Gregory (Monte Savello) in the 14th century.[2]

Bridge

Pons Fabricius as it appears in a Piranesi engraving of 1756
Pons Fabricius as it appears in a Piranesi engraving of 1756
Pons Fabricius and Tiber island as seen from the Tiber river walkway
Pons Fabricius and Tiber island as seen from the Tiber river walkway

According to Dio Cassius, the bridge was built in 62 BC, the year after Cicero was consul, to replace an earlier wooden bridge destroyed by fire. It was commissioned by Lucius Fabricius, the curator of the roads and a member of the gens Fabricia of Rome. Completely intact from Roman antiquity, it has been in continuous use ever since.

The Pons Fabricius has a length of 62 m, and is 5.5 m wide. It is constructed from two wide arches spanning 80 feet, supported by a central pillar in the middle of the stream. The arches of this bridge are the first ones on any Roman bridge that were not semi-circular. This is possibly caused by the semi-circle being located below the water line. Its core is constructed of tuff. Its outer facing today is made of bricks and travertine. A relief is located 20 feet above the pier. During times of flood, this relief served as an additional waterway.[3]

Inscription

CIL VI, 1305, the inscription on the bridge
CIL VI, 1305, the inscription on the bridge

An original inscription on the travertine commemorates its builder in Latin: L . FABRICIVS . C . F . CVR . VIAR | FACIVNDVM . COERAVIT | IDEMQVE | PROBAVIT ("Lucius Fabricius, son of Gaius, superintendent of the roads, took care and likewise approved that it be built"). It is repeated four times, once on each side of each arch.

A later inscription, in smaller lettering, records that the bridge was restored under Pope Innocent XI, probably in 1679.

See also

References

  1. ^ Rabun M. Taylor (2000). Public Needs and Private Pleasures: Water Distribution, the Tiber River and the Urban Development of Ancient Rome. L'ERMA di BRETSCHNEIDER. pp. 141–. ISBN 978-88-8265-100-8.
  2. ^ Claridge, Amanda (1998). Rome: An Oxford Archaeological Guide. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press
  3. ^ Whitney, Charles S. (2003-01-01). Bridges of the World: Their Design and Construction. Courier Corporation. pp. 61–63. ISBN 978-0-486-42995-3.

Sources

Media related to Ponte dei Quattro Capi at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by
Pons Cestius
Landmarks of Rome
Pons Fabricius
Succeeded by
Ponte Milvio