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The Pont Neuf - oldest standing bridge in Paris, France

October 4th, 2006 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

The Pont Neuf is the oldest standing bridge in Paris, France, across the river Seine. Ironically, its name means "new bridge" in French (the name, coined in the early 17th century, stuck).

Standing by the western edge of the Île de la Cité (an island in the middle of the river), it connects the Left Bank of Paris (to the south) with the Right Bank.

The total length of the bridge is 278 m, its width 28 m. It is actually composed of two separate spans, one of five arches joining the south (left) bank to the Île de la Cité, another of seven joining the island to the north (right) bank.

The decision to build the bridge was taken by King Henri III, who would lay its first stone in 1578. After a long delay, due in part to the Wars of Religion, it was completed under the reign of King Henri IV, who inaugurated it in 1607. Pont Neuf is constructed as a series of many short arch bridges, as most bridges of that time were built. Contrary to the habits of the time, the bridge was the first stone bridge in Paris not to support houses in addition to a thoroughfare, and was also fitted with pavements protecting pedestrians from mud and horses. The bridge had heavy traffic from the beginning; it was for a long time the widest bridge in Paris. The structure has never been altered, although the bridge has undergone repair and renovation work. The wooden posts supporting the foundations are still the originals. A major restoration of Pont Neuf was begun in 1994 and will be completed in 2007, the year of its 400th anniversary.

At the point where the bridge lies over the Île de la Cité, there stands an equestrian statue of Henri IV, originally constructed under the orders of Marie de Medicis, Henri’s widow, in 1614. It was destroyed in 1792 during the French Revolution, but was rebuilt in 1818 following the restoration of the monarchy. The new statue was made by melting two statues of Napoléon and using the original cast. Inside the statue, the new sculptor Lemot put four boxes, containing a history of the life of Henri IV, a 17th century parchment certifying the original statue, a document describing how the new statue was commissioned, and a list of people who contributed to a public subscription. During a restoration of the statue, three small wooden cylinders were discovered, containing documents of unknown origin.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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One Response to “The Pont Neuf - oldest standing bridge in Paris, France”

  1. Anonymous Says:

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