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The Roman Bridge, also known as Puente Mayor del Tormes, is an ancient bridge over the Tormes River in the city of Salamanca. The importance of this monument of history is expressed in the fact that its image can be seen on the city’s coat of arms.
Historically, the Roman bridge was known as the main bridge (Puente Mayor or Puente Principal), as it gave access to the southern part of Salamanca. Its present appearance is the result of numerous restorations & reconstructions, since during its long history the structure was repeatedly destroyed (most seriously – during the flood of 1626). In 1931, the Roman bridge of Salamanca was declared a monument of history & in 1998 – the object of national cultural heritage. Until the beginning of the 20th century, this bridge served as the only means of accessing the city, and it has been known for traffic jams because of that. After the construction of the third bridge for road transport, the Salamanca refinery bridge was given to pedestrians for walk.
The construction of the Salamanca bridge
In fact, the Roman bridge of Salamanca is made up of two separate bridges connected in the center by a fortification structure – an ancient bridge built by the Romans, known as Puente Vieja & the second, newer one, called Puente Hispan dating from the Middle Ages. Of its 26 spans, only the first 15 belong to the era of Ancient Rome & material for its construction was brought from different areas. The exact date of construction of the bridge is unknown but references to it are found in the documents of Emperor Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD) & Vespasian, which makes it a monument with at least two thousand years of history. It is known that a bridge was built to ensure the passage through the Tormes River to travelers traveling along the Via de la Plata from Merida to Astorga.
History of the bridge
The history of the Roman Bridge is closely connected with the history of Salamanca itself & its most famous sights, including both the cathedral, Plaza Mayor & Casa de Los Conchas. It is known that in the 13th century, a granite megalithic monument in the shape of a bull stood near the bridge, dated to the era of the Vetons, one of the pre-Roman peoples on the Iberian Peninsula.