Ponte Fabricio is the oldest, intact bridge in Rome, having been built in 62BC by Lucius Fabricius, the curator of the roads. It replaced an old wooden bridge which had been destroyed by fire.
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Photo: Carlo Morino
Ponte Fabricio is also known as Ponte dei Quattro Capi (Bridge of Four Heads) in reference to the two marble pillars of the two-faced Janus herms on the parapet. These were taken from the nearby Church of St Gregory and added to the bridge in the 14th century. During medieval times it was known as Pons Judaeorum (Bridge of Jews) due to its proximity to the Jewish quarter in Rome.
Ponte Fabricio is extremely well preserved and it spans half of the Tiber River, connecting the small Tiber Island in the middle of the river to the Campus Martius on the east side of the city.
The bridge is over sixty meters in length, and five and a half meters in width. It consists of two segmental arches, with a span of twenty-four and a half meters, resting on a central pillar which has a base in the form of a spur on the upstream side and a rounded shape on the downstream side. Above the pillar there is a smaller, six meter arch which eases the pressure of the water when the River Tiber floods.
Pons Fabricius as it appears in a Piranesi engraving of 1756
Originally, there were two small arches at each end which have become buried over the years. The two larger arches have an inscription on both sides, stating, in Latin, that the bridge was designed and built by Lucius Fabricius. In smaller lettering there is a later inscription, believed to be around 1679, recording that the bridge was restored under Pope Innocent XI.
On the island side of the bridge is the Caetani tower which once guarded the entrance to the then, very desirable, Tiber Island.
Photo: Pierleoni - Jastrow
The road across the bridge is paved with travertine slabs and is not open to traffic. Amazingly, it has been in constant use from when it was first built and it makes an historic and peaceful walk across the river.
Once on the island you can either go back across Ponte Fabricio or cross Ponte Cestio to the other side of the Tiber and into Trastevere.