The Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and finally the Seljuks built a road network on the territory of present-day Turkey, some of which is still in use today. For this purpose brooks and rivers had to be crossed, i.e. bridges had to be built. Many of these bridges have survived the centuries - repeatedly repaired and restored.

The Roman road network covered more than 100,000 kilometres throughout the Roman Empire and served primarily military purposes. However, it was these roads that facilitated trade between cities and regions far apart from each other and became increasingly important. The bridges were therefore of particular importance. The Byzantines took over the existing (western) Roman roads and bridges and extended them. The Seljuk bridges served less military purposes than the safe crossing of often torrential mountain streams and rivers on the caravan routes.


Other bridges in preparation


Aizanoi (today Çavdarhisar)







Roman bridge over the Penkalas

Two of the formerly four Roman bridges from the 2nd century AD still span the Penkalas (today Bedir Çayı), a small tributary of the Kocaçay (Rhyndakos). While the balustrade of the five-arched stone bridge (the illustration shows the three-arched bridge) was preserved until at least 1829 according to reports of early European explorers, it has now been replaced by an unsightly iron railing. All traffic through the village now crosses this bridge. It was probably the most important river crossing in ancient times due to its central location near the sanctuary of Zeus and the direct connection to the highway to Kotiaion (today's Kütahya).



Alaköprü bridge

The historical bridge Alaköprü over the Anamur Çayı was built in the 13th century by the Karamanids (a Turkish principality with a centre in today's Karaman province). It is located about 12 km north of the city of Anamur. A few 100 meters to the north is the dam of the same name.


Aspendos (Belkis)

Eurymedon Bridge near Aspendos

The Eurymedon Bridge near Aspendos was a bridge with nine arches from Roman times over the Eurymedon (Köprüçay). Today the Köprüpazar Köprüsü, a Seljuk pointed arch bridge with Roman spoils, rests on the foundations of the ancient building. Following the remains of Roman piers in the riverbed, the bridge has a striking leap in the middle.

The chronological classification of the Roman bridge must be closely linked to the well-known aqueduct in nearby Aspendos, from which part of the building material was taken. For example, around 250 perforated blocks from the Aspendos pressure pipeline were reused as spolia in the external formwork of the bridge alone.
Since the water pipeline was demonstrably in operation until the 4th century AD, the ancient road bridge over the Eurymedon could not have been built before this time. However, it cannot be ruled out that a Roman bridge had already stood in its place in the past. It is possible that it was destroyed together with the Aspendos aqueduct during the great earthquake of 363 AD, which could explain the second use of the now unusable tubular stones during reconstruction.



Çobandede Bridge

The 200 metre long Çobandede bridge bridges the Aras River near Köprüköy between Horasan and Pasinler, directly next to the European road 80. The bridge dates from the time of the Ilchane (Mongolian provincial princes) and was built by Amir Tschupan in 1297.





The ends

Kırk Göz Kemeri

The Roman bridge near Limyra (Turkish Kırk Göz Kemeri) is one of the oldest segmental arch bridges in the world. It was probably built at the end of the 2nd or 3rd century.

The 360 m long stone bridge crosses the river Alakır Çayı near the ancient city of Limyra. Its 26 segment arches are mostly buried today. They have an arrow ratio of 5.3 to 6.4 to 1, which gives the building an extremely flat profile and was only reached again in the late Middle Ages (for example at Ponte Vecchio) with 6.5 to 1. Despite its outstanding technical-historical importance, the bridge near Limyra is little known; the increasing destruction of the structure prompted the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) in the 1970s to carry out the only field investigation to date.
No news from antiquity has been passed down about the bridge. First descriptions of the building appear in European travel reports of the 19th century: During a visit in May 1840, Charles Fellows described the bridge with 25 arches, Spratt and Forbes did the same two years later. In 1882, an Austrian expedition with the participation of Otto Benndorf interpreted the building as part of an ancient road from Limyra to Antalya to the east. However, no plans or sketches were made at that time.



Naras Köprüsü

The Naras Bridge was part of a Roman road from the Pamphyl Side to the Lyrbe over the Naras, a tributary of Melas, about 20 km away. Melas was the ancient name for the Manavgat Çay. The bridge was restored in the early 1990s.



The bridge of Nysa

The bridge of Nysa is a Roman river overpass over the Cakircak stream in Nysa (Caria), today's Sultanhisar. The 100 m long tunnel-like superstructure from the late imperial period was the second largest of its kind in ancient times after the one in Pergamon.
The Nysa bridge spans the Cakircak stream, which runs across the ancient city area, for a total length of approximately 100 m, giving it the character of a tube or tunnel in the eye of the fleeting observer. Despite its outward appearance, however, the building, which was erected continuously above ground, is a river structure, i.e. a particularly wide bridge.
In ancient times, river superstructures to cover longer stretches of a watercourse served primarily to enlarge the inner-city area. In the case of Nysa, the purpose of the construction was to create a spacious forecourt for the theatre near the stream.



The bridge of Pergamon

The bridge of Pergamon is a Roman river overbuilding in the ancient city of Pergamon (today: Bergama). The double tube under the forecourt of the Red Hall is with a length of 183 or 196 m by far the largest river superstructure of antiquity. At the time of Hadrian (r. 117-138 A.D.) a considerable part of the city river Selinus (today: Bergama Çayı) was bridged, to create space for the forecourt of the Temple of Egyptian Deities (also known as Serapis Temple or Red Hall).


 Seleukia ad Calycadnum (today Silifke)

The Roman Bridge over the Göksu

The bridge over the Göksu (ancient name Saleph and Kalykadnos) was built in 77/78 by the proconsul governor of the province of Cilicia, Lucius Octavius, in honour of Emperor Vespasian and his sons Titus and Domitian. The dedication inscription was lost in 1922 during the fire at the Museum of the Protestant School in Izmir, which was given as a gift by the Greek inhabitants of Silifke in 1870.
In 1811 the British admiral Francis Beaufort wrote that the former Kalykadnos was "about 180 feet wide, where there is a bridge with six arches, properly repaired". 40 years later Victor Langlois, a French Orientalist, reports about a stone bridge with 6 arches, which is "partially destroyed".
Today only five arches remain, the sixth was replaced by 2 smaller ones. In 1875 the bridge was restored by the Ottoman governor of Silifke, Mehmet Ali Paşa. Further restorations were carried out in 1922 and finally in 1972.



Eurymedon bridge near Selge

The Eurymedon Bridge (Turkish: Oluk Köprü) is a Roman bridge over the Eurymedon (today Köprüçay) near the ancient town of Selge in Pisidia. It belongs to a road connection that winds up from the coast of Pamphylia into the Pisidian hinterland. Located in a sparsely populated area, the bridge crosses Eurymedon 5 kilometres north of the town of Beşkonak.

The excellently preserved and still passable structure is 14 metres long and 3.5 metres wide (roadway: 2.5 m). The clear width of the single arch is approx. 7 metres, the thickness of the wedge stones joined together without mortar is 60 centimetres. The building technique and the robust construction of the masonry indicate a construction period in the heyday of Selges in the 2nd century AD.
42 km downstream there is another old bridge over the Eurymedon near Aspendos.




The Malabadi Bridge (Turkish: Malabadi Köprüsü) is an arched bridge spanning the Batman River near the city of Silvan in southeastern Turkey.
According to the inscription, construction began in 1146/1147 during the Artuqid period and seems to have been completed in 1154/1155. The bridge was restored in the late twelfth century and early 20th century. It was once the only bridge across the river in this area and was in constant use until the construction of a new road bridge in the 1950s.
The bridge crosses at right angles to the river, the roadway is diagonal to the river, so that ascending, kinked access roads were created in the east and west. The entrances, built of solid masonry, are equipped with small arches for the passage of flood water.
The bridge is 150 metres long and 7 metres wide, 19 metres high and has a span of 38.6 metres.


Justinian Bridge (Tarsus)


The bridge was named after the Byzantine emperor Justinian, who had it built during his reign (527 - 565 AD).
Tarsus, once a port town only 3 km from the sea, was accessible from the sea via the river Kydnos (today Berdan Çayi). By land the route led from Soli or Pompeiopolis (Mersin) to Adana via this river. The increasing sedimentation of the estuary by the sediments transported by the Kydnos constantly changed the course of the river and floods occurred again and again which severely impaired a river crossing. Justinian initiated and subsidized the construction of a relief canal, which facilitated the discharge of the Kydnos and still forms the river bed in parts to this day. For the unhindered crossing of this canal an approx. 60 meter long stone bridge was built, which is named after its builder today.
In the course of time, the river bed moved further eastwards and in the 1960s, when new settlements were built in the east of the city, led to the construction of a wide access road and a new bridge. The old Justinian bridge, at times also called Baç Köprüsü (customs bridge), was restored in 1978 and integrated into the newly built Kuva-i Milliye Parkı, now out of service.

The name "Toll Bridge" originated at the time when the caravans crossing the river had to pay their tribute at the bridge. 


Ancient Bridge (near Mut)

Ancient bridge by Mut

The bridge is located next to the national road D715, Silifke - Karamanmaraş, about 5 km north of Mut. Further information about this bridge could not be found.


Ancient Bridge (near Kilistra/Lystra)

Kumralı Köprüsü

The probably Roman bridge is located at the Osmanlı Cad, between Gökyurt (Kilistra / Lystra) and Konya, about 9 km to Gökyurt. More information about this bridge could not be found.


Photos: @chim, Monika P.


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Source: Wikipedia and others

      Other bridges in preparation