The Puente dei Quattro Capi in Roma (of the four heads for the figures of the god Janus with which it was decorated) is also known as Fabrizio Bridge. And it is the oldest of those preserved in the Italian capital, or at least the one that after two millennia of existence continues to retain its original appearance, since this construction dates back to the year 62 BC, when it was built in stone to replace a previous one made of wood that was consumed by flames.
Fabrizio Bridge in Rome
The bridge to join the Champ d'Mars with the Tiberian Island was commissioned by Lucius Fabrizio, hence his name, since this character had the position of curator of the city's public roads. Something we can read in the inscription engraved on the stone of the bridge: L(UCIUS) FABRICIUS C(AI) F(ILIUS) CUR(ATOR) VIAR(UM) FACIUNDUM COERAVIT (Lucius Fabricius, son of Gaius, superintendent of the roads, did build it).
And from this island, in the middle of the Tiber River, to the other shore on the western side, the Cestius Bridge was laida little later, although his appearance has changed from the original, something that has not happened with the protagonist of this post.
The Fabricio Bridge stretches for 62 meters between both banks and is 5.5 meters wide. All of it is sustained thanks to a central pillar that is the supportto two large arches, up to 24 meters in span, and has a smaller one in the upper part of the pillar itself to allow the passage of water in the event of floods, and thus avoid excessive pressure on the construction.
Today you see an elegant combination of white limestone for the arches and a brick-based interior. Although originally it would be entirely of masonry based on tuff stone and travertine cladding, as can be seen inside the vaults. And it is that the bridge was restored in the eighteenth century at the time of Pope Innocent XI.
It is interesting to note that the great arcades are not the usual semicircular arches. The truth is that they begin to close in on themselves, which aesthetically gives them modernity, but structurally it ensures that their vaults, which exceed the semicircle, transport the thrusts and loads more towards the support in the channel, and less towards the central pillar and the sides of the shores. Something that is still reinforced by a double-threaded underground (or underwater) structure with which the arches remain submerged in the bottom of the river. In addition, the structure that we see today was reinforced with two other smaller arches on the banks that are now buried. Undoubtedly a structure of great audacity and resistance, as evidenced by its long history of almost 2,000 years.