De Bosset Bridget


The biggest stone bridge of Europe

De Bosset Bridge

The historic bridge “De Bosset,” or simply the “Pontes,” is the largest stone bridge in Europe, with a length of 689.9 meters.

It connects the capital of Cephalonia, Argostoli, with the coast just across (“Tampakika”) and serves as an imaginary “border” of the Koutavos lagoon. The bridge features a double curve, allowing it to extend on two fronts to better face the momentum of the waves and facilitate the recycling of water. It is inextricably connected to our history and tradition and constitutes perhaps the best link of Argostoli to the past. At the part of the bridge towards Argostoli, where the Church of Theotokos Sissiotissa is located, the Holy Cross is thrown into the water. The other part ends where the Greek, English, and Catholic cemeteries are located.

The De Bosset Bridge was constructed by the Swiss mechanic Carlos-Phillip De Bosset, an officer of the English army and commander of Cephalonia. In 1812, during a plenary session of the local Government Council, De Bosset proposed a construction plan for a bridge that would connect the southern end of the city of Argostoli with the coast of Drapano on the opposite side. The Government council initially objected to the construction of the bridge. However, Commander De Bosset, in a display of determination, drew his sword and placed it on the table, stating decisively, “My sword will solve the Gordian Knot!” Within a period of 15 days, he constructed a wooden ram bridge that connected Argostoli with the opposite coast. Over the next 3 to 4 years, stone arches were built every 4 meters, which were connected with large oak beams covered by boards of shipbuilding timber. De Bosset then suggested the construction of a monument.

In honor of the nation that had the initiative for the project, a squared precinct with 8 stanchions was built in the middle of the crooked-lined bridge towards the west. Within the precinct, a marble obelisk was erected. On each side of the obelisk, there is a phrase dedicated to the British, translated into 4 languages. Over the years, the bridge underwent renovations twice, by Napier (1822-1830) and Everton (1843-1848). Napier constructed some parts of the bridge, including the bridge parapets. Everton used stone and constructed 16 successive elliptical arches. He also built a stone parapet with elaborate columns at the edges, making the construction durable and architecturally harmonious. The deck was paved with fine gravel resembling chalk. In the 1920s, the first cars appeared on the bridge. In 1940, Italian bombardments caused cracks on the bridge. During the Italian occupation of the island (1941-1943), the conquerors erased the phrases written on the obelisk. In 1944, the Germans placed explosive devices along the waterfront and the bridge of Argostoli, from the “Metela” region to the “Tampakika” region. They intended to set off the explosives while leaving the island in September of the same year. Fortunately, local soldiers, cooperating with Italian and Slovenian soldiers, cut the wires and saved the bridge and the city.

The big earthquake of February 1867 caused significant damage to the bridge and the obelisk. However, the most extensive damage occurred during the disastrous earthquake of 1953. From March 1970, the De Bosset bridge was declared a historical monument.

The De Bosset bridge, or “Pontes,” is a historical masterpiece, a monument of exquisite beauty, and a testament to the bravery and imagination of its engineer. While time has largely respected the monument, the catastrophic earthquake of 1953 caused damage to it.

With the general urban plan of Argostoli, as created by Antonis Tritsis, the bridge was designated as pedestrian in 1985. It took 16 years, until 2001, for the Ministry of Culture to decide to make it pedestrian again for its protection.

In 2005, cars were prohibited from passing over the bridge. It remained closed to visitors, awaiting completion of maintenance by the authorities.

Eventually, on August 30, 2011, the project “Restoration and Enhancement of the De Bosset Bridge in Argostoli, Kefallinia” was signed by the company “Ionios — Maroulis.”

The romantic evening walk of the citizens on the bridge. The final road to the cemetery of Drapano, too,” says Mr. Pavlatos, and adds, “(The bridge) will stay in time, reminding us of history, love, art, and the willpower of the untamed people, while time goes by.

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