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PALMS  BRIDGE

Crossing the river Guadiana in order to reach the city of Badajoz, located on its left bank, always remained a challenge. Nevertheless, in summer time people somehow managed to find a  ford where it was safe to cross, and the rest of the year a small boat was available. With the purpose of making this crossing safer King Alfonso XI (1311-1350) issued an order for a bridge to be built,  not having yet any certainty though that the works were ever started under his reign. By any means, the contruction of the bridge came to a halt, since in 1504 only 8 piers have been finished. The construction works resumed in 1511 under the management of architect Pedro Larrea, being completed some years later.

Ever since it was built, the bridge has undergone a number of floods (1545, 1603, 1708, 1736, 1740, 1758, 1766, 1790, 1814, 1823 1859 y 1876). Some of them were in fact devastating. The 1545 flood tore down three archs of the bridge, causing the bridge to be out of order, though not for very long. In 1596 more repair works were undertaken. However the 1603 flood demolished 16 out of the 28 archs of the bridge. The restoration works would extend from 1609 through 1612.

HornworkHornworkThe reconstruction, however, did not concern the bridge itself. During the Restoration  War as well as during Portugal´s Independence War (1640-1668) the construction of the fort or hornwork at the bridgehead was also underway. The completion of this work eventually blocked the bridge, as it cut off the communication between the bridge and the right bank of the river Guadiana, given the fact that the only way to  reach the right bank of the river was going through the hornwork.

 

In 1709 the acclaimed Frog Fountain was built at the bottom of the moat of the hornwork located at the bridgehead.

Frog FountainFrog FountainThe arrival of the railway line in Badajoz and the resulting development  of the Estación neighbourhood on the right bank of the river Guadiana had significant consequences for the bridge, as in 1868 the station road (present day Carolina Coronado avenue) became connected with the paved roadway on the bridge. For this purpose, it was necessary to backfill the moat and the inner part of the hornwork and thus  the direct communication between the right bank of the river and the bridge roadway was restored again.

 

 

In 1876 a dramatic flooding of the river demolished six archs. The reconstruction works commenced in 1880 under the supervision of engineer Manuel Cervera Royo. On that occasion, besides repairing the archs ruined by the flooding, four new archs (the ones spanning right under the fort at the bridgehead) were built and 13 portholes were opened. The consequent repairing work also affected de bridge balustrade, which was made of masonry, as well as the two lookout posts in the middle of the bridge.