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Trajan's Bridge

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Title: Trajan's Bridge  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: List of ancient architectural records, Roman Dacia, Trajan, Roman technology, Archaeological Sites of Exceptional Importance
Collection: 103 in Europe, 105 in Europe, Archaeological Sites in Serbia, Archaeological Sites of Exceptional Importance, Bridges Completed in the 2Nd Century, Bridges in Romania, Bridges in Serbia, Bridges Over the Danube, Buildings and Structures in Mehedinți County, Deck Arch Bridges, Demolished Bridges, Destroyed Landmarks, Destroyed Landmarks in Romania, Destroyed Landmarks in Serbia, Drobeta-Turnu Severin, Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance, Roman Dacia, Roman Segmental Arch Bridges, Roman Serbia, Roman Sites in Serbia, Serbian Architecture, Timočka Krajina, Tourism in Serbia, Trajan
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Trajan's Bridge

Trajan's Bridge
Serbian: Трајанов мост
Romanian: Podul lui Traian
An artist's interpretation of Trajan's Bridge depicted upon a light brown surface, with bridge stretching from near shore of river on the bottom left and the far shore in the top right.
Artistic reconstruction
Crosses Danube
Locale East of the Iron Gates, in Drobeta-Turnu Severin (Romania) and near the city of Kladovo (Serbia)
Heritage status Monuments of Culture of Exceptional Importance, and Archaeological Sites of Exceptional Importance,  Serbia
Material Wood and Stone
Total length 1,135 m (3,724 ft)
Width 15 m (49 ft)
Height 19 m (62 ft)
Number of spans 20 masonry pillars
Architect Apollodorus of Damascus
Construction begin 103 A.D.
Construction end 105 A.D.
Collapsed Superstructure destroyed by Hadrian

Trajan's Bridge (Serbian: Трајанов мост, Trajanov Most; Romanian: Podul lui Traian ) or Bridge of Apollodorus over the Danube was a Roman segmental arch bridge, the first to be built over the lower Danube. Though it was only functional for a few decades, for more than 1,000 years it was the longest arch bridge in both total and span length.[1]

The bridge was constructed in 105 AD by instruction of Emperor Trajan by Greek architect Apollodorus of Damascus for the deployment of Roman troops during the conquest of Dacia.


  • Description 1
  • Tabula Traiana 2
  • Destruction/erosion and remains 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7


Relief of the bridge on Trajan's Column showing the unusually flat segmental arches on high-rising concrete piers; in the foreground emperor Trajan sacrificing by the Danube

The bridge was situated East of the Iron Gates, near the present-day cities of Drobeta-Turnu Severin in Romania and Kladovo in Serbia. Its construction was ordered by the Emperor Trajan as a supply route for the Roman legions fighting in Dacia.

The structure was 1,135 m (3,724 ft) long (the Danube is now 800 m (2,600 ft) wide in that area), 15 m (49 ft) wide, and 19 m (62 ft) high, measured from the surface of the river. At each end was a Roman castrum, each built around an entrance, so that crossing the bridge was possible only by walking through the camps.

The bridge's engineer, Apollodorus of Damascus, used wooden arches, each spanning 38 m (125 ft), set on twenty masonry pillars made of bricks, mortar, and pozzolana cement.[2][3] It was built unusually quickly (between 103 and 105), employing the construction of a wooden caisson for each pier.[4]

Tabula Traiana

Photo of Tabula Traiana near Kladovo, Serbia.

A Roman memorial plaque ("Tabula Traiana"), 4 meters wide and 1.75 metres high, commemorating the completion of Trajan's military road is located on the Serbian side facing Romania near Ogradina. In 1972, when the Iron Gate I Hydroelectric Power Station was built, the plaque was moved from its original location, and lifted to the present place. It reads:

SVBLAT(i)S VIA(m) F(ecit)

The text was interpreted by Otto Benndorf to mean:

Emperor Caesar son of the divine Nerva, Nerva Trajan, the Augustus, Germanicus, Pontifex Maximus, invested for the fourth time as Tribune, Father of the Fatherland, Consul for the third time, excavating mountain rocks and using wood beams has made this road.

The Tabula Traiana was declared a Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance in 1979, and is protected by the Republic of Serbia.

Destruction/erosion and remains

The ruins at the beginning of the 20th century, Romania.
The ruins in 2009, surrounded by a square concrete compound which was built to protect the monument from the rise of the water level following the construction of the Iron Gate I dam, Romania.

The wooden superstructure of the bridge was dismantled by Trajan's successor, Hadrian, in order to protect the empire from barbarian invasions from the North.[5]

The twenty pillars were still visible in 1856, when the level of the Danube hit a record low.

In 1906, the Commission of the Danube decided to destroy two of the pillars that were obstructing navigation.

In 1932, there were 16 pillars remaining underwater, but in 1982 only 12 were mapped by archaeologists; the other four had probably been swept away by water. Only the entrance pillars are now visible on either bank of the Danube.[6]

In 1979, Trajan's Bridge was added to the Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance, and in 1983 on Archaeological Sites of Exceptional Importance list, and by that it is protected by Republic of Serbia.

See also

The remains of the Drobeta fort on the left/north bank of the Danube (Romania), which secured access to Trajan's bridge. On the right/south bank of the Danube (Serbia) are the remains of the Pontes castrum, which served the same purpose.


  1. ^ The bridge seems to have been surpassed in length by another Roman bridge across the Danube, Constantine's Bridge, a little-known structure whose length is given at 2,437 m (Tudor 1974b, p. 139; Galliazzo 1994, p. 319).
  2. ^ The earliest identified Roman caisson construction was at Cosa, a small Roman colony north of Rome, where similar caissons formed a breakwater as early as the 2nd century BC: International Handbook of Underwater Archaeology, 2002.
  3. ^ Troyano, Leonardo Fernández, "Bridge Engineering - A Global Perspective", Thomas Telford Publishing, 2003
  4. ^ In the first century BC, Roman engineers had employed wooden caissons in constructing the Herodian harbour at Caesarea Maritima: Carol V. Ruppe, Jane F. Barstad, eds. International Handbook of Underwater Archaeology, 2002, "Caesarea" pp505f.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Romans Rise from the Waters

Further reading

External links

For more information, visit the official site of Trajan's Bridge

  • Bridge of Apollodorus over the Danube at Structurae
  • Romans Rise from the Waters – Excavations
  • Traianus – Technical investigation of Roman public works
  • Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Serbia
  • Trajan's bridge near Kladovo (Serbian)
  • Gallery 2003
  • Gallery 2005
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