Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) is a medieval arch bridge over the Arno River, in Florence. The bridge connects the northern bank of the river (Piazza del Duomo, Piazza della Signoria and the Uffizi Gallery) with the southern bank (Palazzo Pitti and the Basilica of Santo Spirito).
The first bridge on this site was a wooden one built in the year 966, that was destroyed by a flood in 1117. Reconstructed from stone, the bridge was swept away again in 1333.
The current bridge was built in 1335, and was attributed to Taddeo Gaddi by the architect and historian Giorgio Vasari, but its origin is still disputed.
Unlike all the other bridges in Florence, Ponte Vecchio was not destroyed by the Germans in the World War II, apparently, because of an order from Hitler himself.
Ponte Vecchio is composed of three segmental arches: the main arch has a span of 30 meters and 4.4 meters in height, and the two side arches each span 27 meters and have a height of about 3.5 meters.
Starting with the 13th century, various shops were built on the bridge. At first, there were all sorts of shops, from butchers to fishmongers, but in 1593, Ferdinando I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, decreed that only goldsmiths and jewellers will be allowed on the bridge.
In 1565, Giorgio Vasari built the Vasari Corridor (Corridoio Vasariano) at the behest of the Medici family, that passes over the shops of Ponte Vecchio, connecting Palazzo Pitti and Palazzo Vecchio.
In the year 1900, a bronze bust of Benvenuto Cellini, a great Florentine sculptor and goldsmith, was placed in the middle of the bridge, on its western side.
On November 4, 1966, the bridge was severely damaged by the flood of the Arno River.
HOW TO GET THERE
Ponte Vecchio is located about 1.2 kilometers away from the Santa Maria Novella railway station. The closest bus stop is Borgo San Iacobo, located about 50 meters away, on the southern bank of the Arno River, on the bus Lines C3 and C4.
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