May 30, 2013

Reconstruction of the old bridge in Mostar

The Mostar Bridge is one of the greatest masterpieces of structural engineering of the Ottoman times. It is part of the oldest nucleus of the town and has great environmental value in its urbanistic structure. Its specific position is harmonized with the natural configuration of the terrain, while its architectural value has been achieved by the usage of basic structural elements. The surrounding mountains leave a deep impression on the viewers, together with the deep river bed of the blue-green river Neretva and the houses characterized by the typical ambiance significance for the 15th and 16th centuries. The oldest written document about medieval Mostar dates back to the 15th century, before the advent of the Ottoman Empire’s administrative management. The document was the work of Duke Stjepan Radivoj, (a Herzegovian nobleman). Little is known about the building of the bridge. What remained written are only memories and legends, as well as the name of the great architect Hayruddin. Even nowadays, when parts of the bridge have been rescued from the Neretva and examined all the constituent parts of the bridge, there still remains the mystery of how the scaffolding was built, how the stone got transported from one side of the river to the other, how the scaffolding endured the long period of construction, as well as numerous other “minute” constructional problems, those that we encounter nowadays despite the usage of the most modern technologies at our disposal. This speaks for the high quality of the builder’s expertise, his idea, never to be repeated or written down but realized in a work that doubtlessly belongs to the greatest engineering undertakings of its time. There were no archaeological finds to be discovered in the position where the present bridge with its towers fortifying it on both banks stand, which might draw to the conclusion that the bridge with its fortifications and the settlement that belongs to it could be dated to earlier periods than the Late Middle Ages. The fortifications together with the bridge were invaded by the Ottoman Turks round 1470, and there they organized a military outpost for further military attacks in western Herzegovina and Dalmatia. During the time of Ottoman administration, near the fortifications on the bridge, particularly on the left bank of the Neretva, a trading-crafts centre started developing, the origin of today’s Mostar. The suspension bridge built in the Middle Ages continued to connect the two banks of the river Neretva, and the Turks continued using it until the middle of the 16th century. Along the rather ramshackle wooden suspension bridge, in 1557, due to the order of Sultan Suleiman ‘the Magnificent’, the construction of the single span, stone arch bridge was built according to the project of the then supreme Turkish architect Kodja Mimar Sinan, and by the year 1566 it was erected and completed by his pupil and assistant Mimar Hayruddin. The medieval towers on the banks that guarded the approach to the bridge from both sides of the river, were reconstructed and extended many times, at the time of the Ottoman administration and particularly at the time of the Candian war, but basically retained all their essential elements that they had been given, probably in the 15th century, by their medieval builders. Around the Old Bridge a community developed that was to become a trading and crafts centre.

During the period of the last fifty years, this site was subjected to numerous conservation and archaeological research undertakings. The conservation work was supposed to examine and restore damage on the bridge and its accompanying towers, as well as check on the data about their building that were partially preserved in the reports of the later travel writers and some scattered historical sources. In the course of the research and the restoration work, the foundations of the bridge and the river banks have been underpinned and consolidated, and the supportive parts of the bridge, together with the support pillars have been injected. The bridge arch has also been injected, and the damaged stone blocks exchanged. Lesser damage was repaired by mortar mixed from white cement and ground limestone that was used in building the bridge.

The Old Bridge in Mostar was destroyed by shelling in November 1993, in the course of the recent wartime events. Its rebuilding began in the year 2002 under the auspices of the World Bank and the Bank for Development of the Council of Europe, with funds donated by countries like Italy, Turkey, Croatia, The Netherlands and France. After two years since the beginning of its restoration and almost 15 million US dollars spent, the work is approaching its end. The main responsibility lay upon the Turkish company ERBU, specialized for the restoration of Ottoman bridges, working under permanent supervision of specialized Croatian companies and experts. From the oldest times up to the present, the Old Bridge has remained the symbol of Mostar. The bridge also remains a permanent attraction for the population as well as tourists. The tradition of taking jumps from the top of the arch into the river also remains a symbol that will be transferred to future generations.

Stamp Issue: 2004.07.23

May 29, 2013

Bridges and viaducts

Old Josephine Road was passing along Salopeke Modruške, a fortification of Modruš and next to the St. Nicholas monastery at Kapela. In order to surmount the steep rocks above the Tounjčica canyon, a 45 m long stone bridge with three openings was built. The bridge was erected at the time when the building of the road began, in 1775 and from 1833 to 1835 the road was renovated from Senj through Mala Kapela to Tounj in the length of 76 kilometres. New road was meant to avoid steep terrain, so from Josipdol to Donji Modruš it had a smaller number of rises than the old route. Then the building of the second floor of the bridge at Tounj began. The lower floor of the bridge, built in 1775 was in use as an integral construction for about sixty years. In 1836 the second floor was added to it, what made steep rises and descents of the road toward the bridge as well as sharp curves somewhat more moderate.

According to the preserved original designs and photographs, it is evident that on the first part of the bridge from both sides there were four statues. Above the pillars there were huge statues of Roman soldiers, while smaller statues above base pillars disappeared. Before the Second World War only their pedestals were preserved. On both sides of the bridge, on the parapet, there were slabs with inscriptions. On the first slab of white limestone there was an inscription in Latin: “To the memory of the difficult passage that in May 1775 the Emperor Joseph II, father of homeland, first undertook and ordered that new road be built under the guidance of the enthusiastic constructor, colonel Struppi”. On the other slab made of dark limestone there was Latin inscription: “Ferdinand I, Emperor of Austria, religious, happy and illustrious, added to the bridge of the divine Joseph II, Roman Emperor, erected between steep shores, a new, easier access and renovated the whole road in 1836  entrusting the works to Kajetan Knežić, supreme commander of border guards.”
On the bridge on each floor there are three openings spanned by semicircular vaults. The vaults are 5.6 m large and the pillars are 2.6 m wide, with parapet 9m.  The second floor of the bridge is 12.35 m above water. Between the parapets the bridge is 7.8 m wide and with parapets 9 m. The width of the roadway is 6 m. The height of the parapet is two times multiplied by 0.6 m. Pedestrian pathways are 0.9 m wide and the upper floor is 5.6 m high.

During Second World War a greater part of the upper floor, three vaults and their pillars were destroyed. Later, a provisional wooden crossing was constructed over these remains.  In 1956 at the Institute for Wooden and Massive Bridges of the Technical Faculty in Zagreb a technical elaboration for bridge renewal in its original form was prepared. The statues and commemorative slabs from the bridge are partly preserved. One statue is exposed near the bridge, on an elevation not far from Tounjčica, while another statue with the commemorative slab from the year 1836 is situated in the yard of the Frankopan Castle in Ogulin.

Stamp Issue: 29.04.2013

May 24, 2013

The Črni Kal Viaduct

 With its 1065-metre length, a surface of 28,173 square metres and a maximum pier height of 95 metres, the Črni Kal Viaduct is both Slovenia's longest motorway bridge and its tallest structure. The viaduct was built as a part of the new motorway linking Ljubljana, the capital, with the Slovenia costal region (Klanec – Srmin section) in the period between November 2001 and September 2004. The viaduct is the most demanding structure built on Slovenian motorways in terms of functional requirements, construction and technological capacity, design requirements, the difficult installation into the environment linked with the preservation of natural environment, as well as in terms of investment costs and easy maintenance. The viaduct consists of two separate carriageway superstructures that rest on joint Y-shaped piers. The shape of the piers is the main element of design that is a special distinctive feature of this Slovenia's largest viaduct, thus making it stand out among similar bridging structures abroad. In designing the project, road safety, protection from strong gusts of north-east wind and black ice were the main guidelines. A special 3–3.5-metre high wind barrier will protect drivers from strong gusts at this lofty height, while the road surface ice sensors will provide road condition information to road maintenance service in Kozina

Stamp Issue: 2004.09.15

The chain bridge at Stádlec

The chain bridge at Stádlec from 1848 was originally built in Podolsko on the Vltava (Moldau) but after the Orlík dam was built it was moved to its present location on the Lužnice and put back into service in 1975. It is the only bridge of its kind in the Czech Republic which has been conserved.

Stamp Issue: 1999.05.26

Wooden bridge in Cernvir

The wooden bridge across the river Svratka in the middle of the village of Cernvír near Tišnov dates from 1718. The wooden beam construction supported by stone pillars is covered by a shingle saddleback. The historical road to Pernštejn castle led across this bridge until 1839; today the bridge is only used by pedestrians.
Stamp Issue: 1999.05.26