|Material||Tufa, marble, spolia|
|Total length||310 m|
|Number of spans||Originally 21 arches|
Taşköprü (English: Stone Bridge) is a Roman bridge spanning the Seyhan River in Adana. Throughout ancient Anatolia and Persia, the bridge was a vital contribution to the trade routes and until 2007, it was one of the oldest bridges in the world to be open to motorized vehicles. It was then set for pedestrians only, now hosting social and cultural events.
The bridge was known with different names throughout the history; Saros bridge, Justinian bridge and finally Taşköprü.
Taşköprü carries traces of the additions and restorations of many civilizations. Although, there is no definite information on the first construction time of the bridge, it is known that Hittite emperor Hattusili built a bridge in Adana, while heading to Syria. On the other hand, the first written proof about the construction is the Ancient Greek inscription that is found at the Stone Works section of Adana Archeological Museum. The inscription, which was translated by Schneider from German Archeology Institute, is 12 lines and has the height of 122 cm, width of 93 cm and thickness of 12 cm. On the inscription it states;
"The truth is Auxentius, this miracle happened at your reign. On the rivers' winter flow, it is built as an unshaked column tied with steel. You stretched a wide road on top of it. Prior to this, many unexperienced people had attempts, but their attempts were not even sufficient for the waves of Tarsus Creek. Here you built an eternal arch bridge. Even the overflowing river is obeying to the famous governor for this."
The inscription indicates that the bridge was built during Roman Empire by the architect Auxentius. Same architect also built a bridge in Rome in 384. The reason that the name of Justinian I is mentioned relating to the construction period on the inscription is probably the extensive restoration of the bridge done by him later.
The first information about the architect and the builder of the bridge is given by Victor Langlois who visited Adana in 1852-1853. Langlois states that the bridge was built by Hadrian. Hadrian travelled through Anatolia from 120 to 135, activating constructions in many places and thus building this bridge in Adana. Langlois also stated that the inscription that had Hadrian's name on it had existed in 1841. Unfortunately, this inscription is lost today.
The bridge has been restored many times over the centuries. In 742, during the reign of Umayyad caliph al-Walid II, whose name it took (Jisr al-Walid), and in 840, during the reign of caliph al-Mu'tasim, the bridge has seen renovations. It is written in some sources that, by making additions to the bridge, the bridge was connected to the castle by Abbasid Caliph Harun Reşid. It was restored by another Abbasid Caliph Memun. There is no written source if there was any other restoration until the 17th century.
Another restoration was done in 1847 during Sultan Abdülmecid's reign. On the restoration inscription (Inventory no: 505 and 506) at Adana Ethnography Museum, it states that the bridge was restored for being in bad shape for so long.
During Sultan Abdülhamid's reign, another restoration was done at the bridge by Governor Osman Paşa. The inscription is recorded at the Archeological Museum (Inventory no: 2469). There is a yearbook from Abdülhamid II period which explains the status of the bridge and the restorations. On this yearbook, it states;
"On the mentioned Seyhan River, there is a largely built, a solid and an orderly bridge that is made on 22 arches. This bridge is a rare sample of elegance and over the course of time had its sidewalks and some of its arches worn out, thus a neat sidewalk with walls is built to prevent the falling and death of people and animals. Arches are also renovated neatly."
Although different materials used in different periods of construction and restoration, bridge was generally built of tufa, marble and spolia. Especially the eastern section of the bridge still carries features of the original construction. Wall filling technique was used at the bridge.
The length of the bridge in present is 310 m. The road on it, is paved with cobblestone, the width is 11.4 m including sidewalks. The ornaments on the bridge is the lion artwork on north side of the 11th arch and the star-crescent artwork. Evliya Çelebi notes that the apron is 550 feet long. 14 big arches and 5 small discharging arches remained to present, out of the 21 original arches. During the re-arrangement of the river banks, both sides were filled and the bridge was shortened when the tails of the bridge were left underground.
Travelers' gravures depict the apron width to be not wide enough to accommodate two horse carriage to move side by side. It is thought that the apron, which was no more than 3 m wide, is widened at the early 20th century. As a result of the widening work, new arches were added to the downstream side of the bridge. There is no clear information on when these additions are made, but it is known that an extensive restoration was conducted on the bridge in 1948 by State Highway Agency. After the additions, the apron width of the bridge was extended to 8-8.5 m.
The theme of many folk songs, cobblestone road pavement of the apron was built by governor Süleyman Bahri Paşa (1899–1908). The pavilion at the center of the bridge, built by the governor Mahmut Paşa, was demolished in later years.
The bases of the bridge arches were worn out over the course of time. The different features on the bases is noteworthy, especially at the downstream side and partially at the upstream side of the bases on the east section of the bridge where the bossage wall technique was used, there are flood splitters and bars designed as stairs. The base design as stairs is feature that is seen in Roman period. The bridge which was built on 15 arches, also had 6 smaller discharging arches. Among the discharging arches, two of them on the west side, have their upstream side open but downstream side was closed with filling. Almost all the arches of the river have different sizes, reason being the construction techniques used at the bridge in different periods.
At the upstream side of the bases there are flood splitters in triangular form. During one of the Ottoman restorations, all the flood splitters were renewed and that is the reason today that they all have generally same construction technique.
Media related to Stone Bridge at Wikimedia Commons