The bridge of Arta is a stone bridge of the river Arachthos. It dates back to the 17th century and became famous for the eponymous legendary traditional song that refers to its “human sacrifice” foundation.
The original construction of the bridge of Arta is placed in the years of the ancient city of Amvrakia during the reign of King Pyrrhus I.
The bridge of Arta acquired its current form in the 17th century. The length of the bridge reaches 142 meters and its width is 3.75 meters. It consists of four large arches and three smaller ones, the four semicircular arches have no symmetry with each other. Its pedestals are built with large regular stones in the isodomic system, with a crown, so that they resemble the masonry of Hellenistic mansions.
In 1881, when Arta was liberated by agreement, the bridge was the border of free Greece with the Turkish-occupied Greece. The two-story neoclassical building at the western end of the bridge, built in 1864 by an Austrian architect and now housed the Arta Folklore Museum, was originally used as an Ottoman bridge outpost and later in 1881 as a border station, the Ottoman Customs.
In the late 1930s, in addition to the ancient pedestals, concrete was added to support the original wooden bridge, which the Nazi conquerors reinforced with rails for the passage of their vehicles. In 1944 when the Nazis withdrew with their troops, they ordered the Arta bridge to be blown up. However, the German bomber estimated the size of the crime and disobeyed orders, saving the bridge from destruction.
The legend about the bridge of Arta is one of the reasons why the bridge is famous all over Greece. The song is written in fifteen syllables and begins somewhat like this: “1300 builders, 60 students, 45 carpenters under Archimaster tried to build the bridge whose foundations were destroyed every morning.” Finally, according to popular tradition, “a bird with a human voice announced that in order to land the bridge, the human sacrifice of the wife of the Master Builder is required.” Which was done with curses that end in wishes.
Historical research states that the legend hid for many years a historical truth about the region of Arta and Epirus in general. When a large Turkish army force had to pass through the area, residents were asked to help build a bridge. Then many residents ran to declare that they are builders to gain some favor. But when they learned why the Turkish army was passing by, they went at night and tore down the bridge they were building in the morning.
The Ottomans asked to know why it was so late to build the bridge. Residents then claimed that the bridge was haunted, believing that the Ottomans would be frightened and leave. But then the Turkish commander ordered the arrest of the Master Builder and the murder of his wife. Thus, fearing for their fate, the Greeks hurried to complete the construction of the bridge, accompanied by curses. However, after the national uprising of 1821 and waiting for their release from the Greek army, the previous curses became wishes.
From Georgia Gioupa (MaxMag)
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