Apart from the truly magnificent and humbling landscape we drove through on our journey through Europe, I witnessed incredible feats of engineering; creative vision; craftsmanship; ingenuity; blood, sweat and tears; and quite highly likely – cruelty.
In my recent post on Tunnels, once again the evidence of mankind’s persistence to not be thwarted is evidenced spanning caverns, gullies, valleys and vast stretches of water -structures made in man’s attempt to go further; to push beyond what seems sensible; to advance ‘civilisation’; to connect more easily with others for economic, political and social benefit… and I’m also certain to fulfil man’s desire to feel good about one’s own contribution to society and one’s own sense of Self.
Whilst looking toward and driving across these bridges, I often reflected on their evolution – and wondered whose idea it was to span across a seeming impossible cavern or stretch of water. I wondered whether one person woke up one morning with an idea to present to a few other people and sketches were made on stiff parchment paper …. or whether a ‘working group of consultants’ were contracted to put forward proposals and feasibility studies.
I looked at these bridges and wondered how on earth in the 12th Century without computers all the angles of each of the stones could be accurately calculated and drawn so that the stonemasons could carve the exact shape required for the beautifully curved arches and spans. I wondered how the stone was extracted from the earth and transported to where the bridge was being constructed. I wondered how the scaffolding was erected to support the bridge hundreds of metres in the air whilst it was being constructed. I wondered how many bridges crumbled or failed before they were ever used…and I wondered how many lives were lost in the pursuit of this determined human endeavour.
Below are some of the bridges which were the catalyst for my questions and appreciation of the tenacity; ingenuity; courage and craftsmanship of those who contributed to making these incredible structures.