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Pont Saint-Benezet

Pont Saint-Benezet in Avignon

The bridge Pont Saint-Benezet is a historical monument in the French city of Avignon. If you remember from our childhood, the popular song "On the bridge of Avignon dancing in a circle ...", you will easily think of a stone bridge on which there are dancing children - namely Saint Beneze. Aka Pont d'Avignon, this bridge is an amazing medieval structure, which once linked the two banks of the Rhone River in this part of southern France.

Pont Saint-Benezet originally associated Avignon and the municipality Villeneuve-lès-Avignon on the left bank of river. Built between 1171 and 1185, with the initial length of about 900 meters. Subsequent flooding and damage caused by people, required the bridge Saint Benezet be restored several times. Throughout history, after being destroyed, its stone arches were replaced by fragile wooden structures.

Pont Saint-Benezet in Avignon

In 1668 a great flood sweeps away a substantial part of the structure of the bridge and it was finally, permanently withdrawn from use. In the coming years and centuries, no one cared to restore the bridge until eventually, today, only four remain from the original twenty-two beautiful stone arches of Saint-Benezet.

One legend tells of the new bridge in the early 12 century. Then, a young shepherd, who was born in Vivarais, overheard a mysterious voice that ordered him to go to Avignon and to build a bridge over the river Rhone. So it happened - guided by a heavenly angel, the shepherd reached the French city. Initially, the townspeople were not inclined to believe his words.

To prove to them the divine intervention throughout his work, he moved a huge stone all the way to the Rhone. In fact Benezet was a real figure, not a legendary character. He died in 1184 - a year before the completion of the bridge and failed to see the final finished fruit of his mission. After his death Benezet was declared a saint and was buried in a specially built chapel on the bridge, built by local boatmen, whose patron was St. Nicholas.

The construction of the Pont Saint-Benezet takes 14 years, with its 900 m is considered one of the longest bridges in the Middle Ages . He built the bridge as a model of ancient Rome, and its arches were of clearance between 20 and 25 meters, while its width is relatively small. At that time the Saint Benezet was the only bridge over the Rhone between the Mediterranean and Lyon. Publicans collected taxes on goods to be transported across the bridge.

Today the surviving four arches of the medieval structure are near the old city of Avignon, and there is moved the chapel of St. Nicholas as well.



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