PONTE FABRICO By: Derryck Prescott
The Ponte Fabrico is the oldest Roman bridge in Rome, Italy, still existing in its original state. Built in 62 BC, it spans half of the Tiber River, from the Campus Marti us on the east side to Tiber Island in the middle (the Pons Cestus is west of the island). Quattro Cape ("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 Savills) in the 14th century.
This bridge was built in the year 62 by L. Fabricius and was the first one to connect the Iberian Island with one of the banks of the Tiber river. It is 57 m (63 yd.) long and 5.5 m (6 yd.) wide. Horace the poet remembers it as the place from where persons in despair jumped into the river. In the Middle Ageist was called “Ponte de Giudei” (Bridge of the Jews) due to the nearby Ghetto. It is also called “Ponte de Quattro Capri” (Bridge with Four Heads) due to the presence of four marble busts at its four heads.
According to Dior 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.
DEATHS DURING BUILD.
On the completion of the restoration of the bridge the four architects were sentenced to death for their improper behavior by the King Sixtus V. The Ponte Fabricio Bridge in Rome is fifty seven meters long and 5.6 meters wide. The bridge is said to be an important activities in Rome.
MATERIALS IT WAS MADE OF.
It was here that King Ancus Martius had the first bridge built in Rome, the Pons Sublicius, a bridge made entirely of wood like all the bridges built before the 2nd century BC. By no coincidence, this was the location of the bridge on which Horatius single handedly held off the Etruscan army that was trying to enter the city to reinstall the hated King Tarquin the Proud. Closer back to the island you can still see one arch from the Ponte Emilio, the first masonry bridge built in the 2nd century AD and frequently destroyed by the Tiber's current which, at this point, is particularly violent. Today the Romans justly call this the Ponte Rotto, the Broken Bridge
OTHER NAMES FOR THE PONTE FABRICIO.
At one time, it was called the Bridge of Four Heads because of the two fourheaded Januses placed on the parapets and intended to hold the bronze balustrade. In the Middle Ages, it was named the Pons Judeorum, the Bridge of the Jews, while their Synagogue was known as the Scola Quattro Capi after the bridge's famous statues. This synagogue was suppressed by an edict from Pope Paul IV. The scene that unfolds as you cross the bridge is one of the most significant in Rome. Downriver from the island, where today's Ponte Palatino stands, was the ford which, in ancient times, allowed people to cross the river and reach the Via del Sale.
BUILDER OF THE PONTE FABRICIO.
The Pons Fabricius or Ponte dei Quattro Capi, is the oldest Roman bridge in Rome, still existing in its original state. 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.
The Pons Fabricius has a length of 62 m, and is 5.5 m wide. It is constructed from two wide arches, supported by a central pillar in the middle of the stream. Its core is constructed of tuff. Its outer facing today is made of bricks and travertine.
DID YOU KNOW
Did you know that, In the third century BCE, Roman engineering had progressed from building seasonal wooden bridges to more elaborate permanent stone structures. Soon, arched bridges, buildings, and aqueducts became a distinctive feature of Roman architecture. Arches made the structures uniquely able to withstand the stresses of operation and seasonal elements. Many structures built during the days of ancient Rome still survive and are still in use, such as the Ponte Fabricio, shown in this photograph. The bridge, completed in 62 BCE, connects the city of Rome to Tiber Island.