1,500-year-old historic Byzantine bridge awaits restoration
The Justinian Bridge, a Byzantine bridge dating back 1,500 years, has been awaiting restoration since being badly damaged during the devastating Marmara earthquake of Aug. 17, 1999.
The Justinian Bridge is said to have been constructed by order of Byzantine Emperor Justinian to span the Sakarya River in A.D. 553. It was subsequently destroyed and rebuilt five times, and consequently is sometimes referred to as Beşköprü, or “Five Bridges.” A full 429 meters long, this eight-arched structure now carries train tracks.
The bridge was badly damaged in the 1999 earthquake that hit the Marmara region. Damage to some of the piers has left it currently at risk of collapse, and it awaits strengthening and restoration. The last restoration of the bridge was carried out in 1995 by the General Directorate of Highways (KGM), which closed the bridge to rail traffic thereafter.
The bridge is located in an area suitable for social and cultural activities to attract tourism, but because restoration is not yet complete and tourism is not actively promoted, the site is infrequently visited.
Describing the bridge as one of the oldest, most historic and most valuable monuments in the cultural inheritance of the region, Sakarya Governor Mustafa Büyük told Today’s Zaman that the bridge spans various districts, and added that the Sakarya Municipality and district governor’s offices should increase their efforts to protect the historic structure. “The KGM plans to restore the bridge. The KGM plans to landscape the surrounds of the historic monument, apart from the restoration, to attract more attention from both domestic and foreign tourists,” Büyük noted.
Sakarya Provincial Culture and Tourism Director Hüseyin Yorulmaz told Today’s Zaman that a more definite schedule of projects should be put in place to foster tourism in the area.
Assistant Professor Zeki Özcan from Sakarya University’s department of construction engineering told Today’s Zaman that the bridge was built using advanced technology, considering its date of construction, and so is an important historic work.
Resource: Today’s Zaman