Livius.Org Anatolia Carthage Egypt Germ. Inf. Greece Judaea Mesopotamia Persia Rome Other

Rome: Bridge of Fabricius


The Pons Fabricius, from the east. Photo Jona Lendering.
The Pons Fabricius, from the east.
Bridge of Fabricius: oldest bridge in Rome that is still in use.

The island in the Tiber is connected with the rivers banks by two bridges. The Pons Cestius between the island and Trastevere was destroyed between 1888 and 1892 and replaced by a modern bridge. According to the historian Cassius Dio (Roman History, 37.45.3), the elegant Pons Fabricius was built in 62 BCE; it probably replaced an older bridge, made of wood, and survives to the present day.
  

Ancient-Warfare.com, the online home of Ancient Warfare magazine
The building inscription. Photo Marco Prins.
The building inscription.
The Pons Fabricius connects the island to the Field of Mars - or, to be more precise, to the Theater of Marcellus. It is 62 meters long and 5½ meters wide. The building inscription (CIL VI.1305), found on four places, reads
Lvcivs  FABRICIVS  Cai  Filivs  CVRator  VIARvm
FACIVNDVM  COERAVIT  EIDEMQVE  PROBAVIT
meaning that Lucius Fabricius, the son of Gaius Fabricius, as curator of the roads ordered the construction of the bridge.
A herm on the Bridge of Fabricius. Photo Marco Prins.
A herm on the Bridge of Fabricius.

The bridge is made tuff and peperino stone and was covered with travertine. In 1679, tiles replaced the travertine. The main two arches are 24½ meters wide, and the small arch on top of the pier was made to enable high water to pass along, and take away some pressure from the bridge.

To the building inscription was later added, in smaller letters, that Marcus Lollius and Quintus Aemilius Lepidus, the consuls of 21 BCE, improved the monument. This may refer to adjustments made necessary after the great flood of 23. Perhaps the small arch on top of the pier is meant.

These bridge of Fabricius is adorned by two herms with four heads, and is therefore often called "bridge of the four heads" (quattro capi). The herms are now very damaged.

The foundations. Photo Marco Prins. The foundations. Photo Marco Prins. The foundations. Photo Marco Prins.
Three photos of thee foundations

The Pons Fabricius, from the southwest. Photo Jona Lendering.
View from the southwest.

The pier of the Bridge of Fabricius is exceptionally heavy foundations, which may explain why it has survived.

A satellite photo can be found here, and another article is here.
© Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2003
Revision: 13 Dec. 2008
Livius.Org Anatolia Carthage Egypt Germ. Inf. Greece Judaea Mesopotamia Persia Rome Other