Guadiana Bridge - History and Facts | History Hit

Guadiana Bridge

Merida, Extremadura, Spain

Guadiana Bridge in Merida was one of the largest bridges built by the Roman Empire.

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Guadiana Bridge

Guadiana Bridge in Merida, known locally as Puente Romano, is a large Ancient Roman construct that crosses the Guadiana River. In fact, at a length of almost 800 metres, Guadiana Bridge was one of the biggest bridges known to have been built by the Romans.

Guadiana Bridge history

The origins of Guadiana Bridge date back to the founding of Merida itself, which occurred in 25BC during the reign of Emperor Augustus.

Merida, then known as Augusta Emerita, became an important city and the capital of Lusitania.

The city was the centre of a communications network in the west of the Iberian Peninsula, both due to its status as the capital of the province of Lusitania and because of the ease of crossing the Guadiana river that provided its enormous stone bridge.

It was the first construction that was made in the Roman town of Emérita Augusta to strategically protect the colony from possible attacks.

The bridge has sixty arches and various spillways in the areas where the river flows with more force. The original piers have small rounded cutwaters upstream to alleviate the thrust of the current.

The bridge withstood road traffic for most of its history, but became exclusively pedestrian on December 10, 1991, the day the Lusitania Bridge was inaugurated.

Guadiana Bridge today

Many of the original features of Guadiana Bridge, including a number of its arches, have been restored and today it is a working pedestrian bridge. Guadiana Bridge is one of several historic sites in Merida which are inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The best Roman bridge views are from the Alcazaba’s southwestern ramparts.

Getting to Guadiana Bridge

Merida is easy to explore on foot. Throughout the year, there are guided tours to the monument ensemble.

Merida railway station at Calle Cardero is near to the bridge and other sightseeing areas. Merida’s nearest airports are Badajoz and Seville.