About Salamanca Roman Bridge
The Salamanca Roman Bridge (Puente Romano de Salamanca) is a picturesque stone arched bridge said to date back to the first century AD. This would place it in the reign of Marcus Ulpius Traianus, when the bridge was part of the ‘Plata’ or ‘silver’ route between Merida and Astorga.
Much of the Salamanca Roman Bridge was rebuilt in the 18th century, but its city-side arches remain original.
History of Salamanca Roman Bridge
The Salamanca Roman Bridge (also known as Puente Mayor del Tormes) is a Roman bridge crossing the Tormes River on the banks of the city of Salamanca, Spain. Along with the city’s two cathedrals, the La Clerecia, Plaza Mayor, and the Casa de las Conchas, it is one of Salamanca’s most characteristic monuments.
The bridge is made up of two different bridges which have been united into one structure: the old bridge which is closer to the city and is of Roman origin (built some time between 27BC and 79AD, making it a bimillennial architectural monument), and the new bridge.
Of the 26 arches, only the first 15 date to Roman times. The bridge has been restored many times and has survived several attempts at demolition. Many of these restorations have been poorly documented, leaving archaeologists to try and date the different parts of the bridge.
It is possible that the second part of the bridge was built after a flood in 1256 which damaged the structure. After the Flood of San Policarpo in 1626, major repairs occurred, and again in 1767, the 15 Roman and 11 modern arches went under maintenance.
The bridge has played a part in warfare strategy. On 22 July 1812, during the Peninsular War against the Napoleonic French, the Battle of Salamanca was waged in the South of the city. Due to its strategic position, the bridge became a military target.
The day before the battle, the Duke of Wellington took the bridge and some other rivers, and used it to direct the attack against the French troops.
The bridge was declared an Artistic Historic Monument in 1931, and an Asset of Cultural Interest in 1998. The bridge was used to carry the main traffic into the city all the way up to the early 20th century, and bore heavy traffic until 1973; now, a third, modern bridge has been constructed, leaving the bridge to be used by pedestrians only.
Salamanca Roman Bridge Today
Today, visitors can walk along the Salamanca Roman Bridge’s 270 metre length and admire views of both the River Tormes and the Casa Lis and Cathedral. It also acts as a good starting point for those wishing to immerse themselves in the architecture and history of the old town.
Getting to Salamanca Roman Bridge
The Salamanca Roman Bridge is a 20 minute walk from the centre of Salamanca, via the Calle Zamora. It is also reachable in around 20 minutes via bus – the 1, 3, 9, 6, 10, and 11 – which depart every 6 minutes from the centre. By car, it’s an easy 5 minute drive via the N-620/N-630.