Initially preceded by wood bridge, the Pons Aemilius was the first of many stone bridges built in Rome. It was designed between 179 BC and 151 BC. The bridge connects the city center with the Trastevere neighborhood, just south of Tiber Island.
Initially, only the piles were made of brick. However, in 142 BC the original wooden arch was replaced with stone. The bridge was repaired several times over the centuries, most notably by Emperor Augustus in 12 BC and Probus in 280 AD.
With the fall of the Roman Empire, repairs became rarer and several floods, especially those in 1230 and 1422, seriously damaged the structure. In 1552, the arch was replaced, however, five years later, it was badly damaged by another flood. The last renovation attempts took place between 1573 and 1575, but in 1598 the bridge was again damaged by floodwaters, destroying three of the six arches. This bridge was later abandoned and became known as the “Ponte Rotto” (“Broken Bridge”).
In 1853, the three remaining arches were connected to the mainland on both sides by iron bridges. This new iron structure weakens the original stone. In 1887, a new pedestrian bridge was demolished along with two of the three arches to make room for a new bridge, the Ponte Palatino. Today, only one 16th century arch remains, resting on the original 2nd century BC colonnades.
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