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

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