Eleutherna Bridge

The Eleutherna Bridge is an ancient Greek corbel arch bridge near the Cretan town of Eleutherna, Greece.[1] A similar second bridge standing a short distance south of it collapsed toward the end of the 19th century, with only very few traces remaining.[2]

Eleutherna Bridge
Eleutherna Bridge, Crete, Greece. Pic 01.jpg
View to the south
Coordinates35°20′17″N 24°40′15″E / 35.33806°N 24.67083°E / 35.33806; 24.67083
CarriesFootpath to Eleutherna
CrossesConfluence of Pharangitis and Chalopota streams
LocalePrines, Crete, Greece
DesignCorbel arch bridge
Total length9.35 m
Width5.05−5.2 m
Height4−4.2 m
Longest span3.95 m
No. of spans1
Construction endHellenistic period


The well-preserved structure has a single span of 3.95 m, which is quite large for a false arch. The opening is cut from the unmortared limestone blocks in the shape of an isosceles triangle, the height of which is 1.84 m. The overall length of the bridge measures 9.35 m. Its width varies from 5.1 to 5.2 m, with the structure converging slightly towards its center point above the arch (5.05 m width there). The height is between 4 and 4.2 m.[3]


The bridge, which is still in use, was first described by the Englishman T.A.B. Spratt in his Travels and Researches in Crete, after he had paid a visit to the site in 1853.[4] At the time, another ancient bridge with a triangular arch was still standing a few hundred metres away, but, judging from a later report, was destroyed some unknown time before 1893.[5]


While there is general agreement that the two bridges of Eleutherna date to the pre-Roman period, a more precise dating is hampered by the lack of proper finds.[6] According to Nakassis, the extant, northern bridge was built sometime during the Hellenistic period,[7] while the Italian scholar Galliazzo dates the construction more precisely to the end of the 4th or beginning of the 3rd century BC.[8] For the smaller, now collapsed southern bridge Nakassis cautiously supports a late Classical date.[9]


  1. ^ Briegleb 1971, p. 258; Galliazzo 1995, pp. 37f.; Nakassis 2000
  2. ^ Nakassis 2000, pp. 360
  3. ^ All data: Nakassis 2000, p. 358
  4. ^ Nakassis 2000, pp. 359f.
  5. ^ Nakassis 2000, pp. 360, 363
  6. ^ Nakassis 2000, p. 365, fn. 54
  7. ^ Nakassis 2000, pp. 364f.
  8. ^ Galliazzo 1995, pp. 37f.
  9. ^ Nakassis 2000, pp. 364-365


  • Briegleb, Jochen (1971), "Die vorrömischen Steinbrücken des Altertums", Technikgeschichte, 38 (3): 255–260 (258)
  • Galliazzo, Vittorio (1995), I ponti romani, Vol. 1, Treviso: Edizioni Canova, pp. 37f., ISBN 88-85066-66-6
  • Nakassis, Athanassios (2000), "The Bridges of Ancient Eleutherna", The Annual of the British School at Athens, 95: 353–365, doi:10.1017/s006824540000472x

Further readingEdit

  • Bougia, Polyxeni (1996), "Ancient Bridges in Greece and Coastal Asia Minor", Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

  Media related to Eleutherna Bridge at Wikimedia Commons