Stone bridge 3 floors 2,000 years standing still

FRANCE - Even though the water stops flowing, the flow of traffic across the Pont du Gard bridge has continued to pass for hundreds of years.

Many works from ancient Roman times exist over hundreds of years, showing the pinnacle of construction techniques and outstanding aesthetics of previous architects. The Roman aqueducts are a prime example of this, and there is no clearer example than the Pont du Gard bridge.

Built in the first century, this beautiful arched bridge is both a driveway for vehicles and a water path from the small town of Uzès in the south to the ancient city of Nîmes in the southeast. An estimated 40,000 cubic meters of water flows over the bridge every day, into fountains, swimming pools, and the N cưmes neighborhood.

The Pont du Gard was favored by the French dynasties and considered a symbol of power. Photo: Pont du Gard

The bridge is 275 m long and 49 m high and built entirely of stone. All three floors of this tower bridge have arched columns. Ancient people used about 50,400 tons of limestone to make bridges, with the largest blocks weighing up to 6 tons. Most of the rock is mined from the local Estel quarry about 700 meters downstream of the Gard River. The spans of giant stones stacked with levers and pulleys, are surprisingly strong, with almost no mortar.

The cost to build this bridge is not small. The French archaeologist Émile Espérandieu estimates that the ancients spent up to 30 million sesterce (Roman coins), equivalent to paying 500 recruits in the Roman army for 50 years. This amount converted at a daily exchange rate can be equivalent to tens of millions of dollars.

The stone blocks perfectly match through friction and gravity. On each stone block are engraved with numbers, instructions on the location ... Photo: Horizon Provence

The bridge was used to carry water at least until the 6th century, because problems like seepage, cracking ... started to appear in the 4th century but no one repaired. The sandy soil leads to clogging, debris accumulates gradually causing the flow to stop.

Since the fall of the Roman Empire, the Pont du Gard has been mostly intact as it is still a toll bridge. For centuries, the lords and bishops of the region were responsible for the maintenance of the Pont du Gard, in exchange for the right to charge visitors across the river on this bridge.

By the 17th century, a few bridge-building blocks were stolen and destroyed, the Pont du Gard gradually became famous and became an important tourist destination in the area since the 18th century. It has undergone a series of renovations since then. 18th to 21st century.

The government invested most heavily in 2000 when it opened a new visitor center for this monument, and removed roads and buildings near the bridge to promote tourism.

The first floor of the bridge has 6 arch span, total length of 142 m. Floor 2 has 11 arch spans, 242 m long. The original 3rd floor had 47 spans, currently 35 spans, and a total length of 275 meters. Photo: Pont du Gard

In 1985, Pont du Gard was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Today, the bridge is one of the most popular tourist destinations in France, welcoming about 1.4 million visitors a year. This place is open year round. Admission is 9.5 euros / adult, an additional 6 euros / person if you take a guided tour, and completely free for people under 18 years old.

Tourists can walk about 3.5 km on the bridge and enjoy the panoramic view of Gard River from the top floor, or cycle across the bridge. In the summer, the French also come here to camp, swim in the river or go kayaking. Inside the Pont du Gard tourist area there is a museum about the history of the Roman and Ludo water bridges, an interactive educational museum for children aged 5-12 years old to play and explore science. .

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