The historic bridge “De Bosset”, or simply the “Pontes”, is the biggest stone bridge of Europe, with a length of 689,9 metres.
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 shows a double curve, just so it extends on two fronts to face more easily the momentum of the waves and , at the same time, to make the recycling of the water smoother. It is inextricably connected to our history and tradition and constitutes maybe 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 cemetery is located.
The De Bosset bridge was constructed by the Swiss mechanic Carlos- Phillip De Bosset, officer of the English army and commander of Cephalonia. One day of 1812, in one plenary session of the local Government Council, De Bosset suggested a construction plan of a bridge that would connect the southern end of the city of Argostoli with the coast of Drapano, at the opposite side. The Government council, though, objected at the construction of the bridge. Then, the commander De Bosset, wrathfully pulled his sword, and placing it on the table said decisively “My sword will solve the Gordian Knot!” . In a time period of 15 days, he constructed a wooden ram bridge which connected Argostoli with the opposite coast. At the first wooden bridge in a time period of 3 to 4 years stone arches were built, every 4 metres, which were connected with big oak beams covered by boards of shipbuilding timber. Then, De Bosset suggested the construction of a monument in honour of the nation which had the initiative of the project. So, in the middle of the crooked-lined bridge, towards the west, a squared precinct was built, with 8 stanchions. In the middle of the precinct, an obelisk of marble was built. On each side of the obelisk there is a phrase dedicated to the British, translated in 4 languages. Through the next years, the bridge was renovated 2 times, by Napier (1822-1830) and Everton (1843-1848). Napier made some parts of the bridge, such as the bridge parapets. Everton used stone, and made 16 successive elliptical arches. At the edges he constructed a stone parapet, with elaborate columns, which made the construction durable and architecturally harmonious. The deck was paved with fine gravel which seemed like chalk. The decade of 1920 the first cars showed up on the bridge. At 1940 the Italian bombardments caused cracks on the bridge. The years of Italian occupation of the island (1941-1943) the conquerors erased the phrases written on the obelisk. At 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, co-operating with Italian and Slovenian soldiers, cut the wires and saved the bridge and the city.
The big earthquake of February 1867 caused important damages on the bridge and the obelisk. Though, bigger damage was caused by the disastrous earthquake of 1953.From March 1970 the De Bosset bridge was declared as historical monument.
The De Bosset bridge or “Pontes” is a historical work, a monument of excellent beauty, a sample of bravery and imagination of the technician. Time respected the monument, but the catastrophic earthquake of 1953 damaged it.
With the general urban plan of Argostoli, as Antonis Tritsis created it, the bridge was characterized as pedestrian (1985). It took 16 years (2001) for the Ministry of Culture to decide to make it pedestrian again for its protection.
In 2005 the cars were prohibited from passing the bridge. It stayed closed for visitors, waiting for the authorities to complete its maintenance.
Eventually at the 30th of August 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 History, Love, Art and the will power of the untamed people, while time goes by”.