Bridge of Arta
The Bridge of Arta is a stone bridge on river Arachthos, located right next to the current road of Ioannina and Arta. This bridge is the most important monument - symbol of this city. The bridge became famous because of the legend of the foundation, as the master builder had to sacrifice his beautiful wife, in order to finish its construction. Up until now there is a quote, characterizing a project which takes way too much time to be completed, when people say "What you/they build all day, is destroyed every night".
The construction of the Bridge of Arta may not have beauty or symmetry, but is best known and still is a masterpiece of architecture, as the construction site is not at all favorable. The length of the bridge is 141 meters and the width is 2.80 meters. Τhe four semicircular arches have no symmetry and the groundstones of this bridge are pure large stones, which shows us that the initial foundation (minimum foundation) must have been during the Hellenistic period (Pyrrhus ‘A, in 3rd century BC) and constructed by ancient Amvrakiotes.
Its present form was acquired during 1612-1615 AD, probably on the same spot where its greatest arch collapsed and had to be rebuilt. This period refers to the legend of the construction, since for the construction of this arch only, workers and students needed around three years.
Historically it is said that the title refers to the folk song effort of a large Turkish army, wanting to pass the river Arachthos. The Turks asked or the help of the residents, in order to build a bridge and they saw it as a noble and kind gesture to help them. After some period, the people learned the true reason for the construction and they changed their attitude and work pace. During the day they would normally build the bridge and at night they would gather to demolish it.
By the time the commander of the Turks found out, he ordered the killing of the master craftsmen wife. So finally they hurried up, in order to finish the remaining work, but also placing severe curses on the construction. With time passing, these were changed to prayers after the Greek Revolution and its fight for independence in 1821. The Bridge of Arta received many restaurations and additions throughout its history, either because it needed more support or because others wanted to destroy it (eg. the 2nd World War). The memorial bridge of Arta and whole Greece, rediscovered its brilliance and beauty during the decade of 1980, where it received significant, and more importantly, correct fixings.
East of the River (start of the bridge) stands imposingly a huge plane tree. It is said to be the plane tree of Ali Pasha Tepelenli, where he took his place watching the condemned, which hung from the branches of the tree. On the West side (end) of the bridge stands the Folklore Museum of Arta, which is housed in a two storey neoclassical building, built in 1864 by architect Ernst Ziller.