An Animated Video Shows the Building of a Medieval Bridge: 45 Years of Construction in 3 Minutes

With­out mas­sive feats of engi­neer­ing we rarely notice any­more because they seem so com­mon­place, the built envi­ron­ments we nav­i­gate each day wouldn’t exist. When we do turn our atten­tion to how the build­ings get made, we are met with sur­pris­es, curiosi­ties, puz­zles, moments of won­der. How much more is this the case when learn­ing about fix­tures of cities that are hun­dreds or thou­sands of years old, con­struct­ed with what we would con­sid­er prim­i­tive meth­ods, pro­duc­ing results that seem supe­ri­or in dura­bil­i­ty and aes­thet­ic qual­i­ty to most mod­ern struc­tures?

Of course, while mod­ern struc­tures can take months or even weeks to fin­ish, those of a more ancient or medieval age were con­struct­ed over decades and repaired, rebuilt, and restored over cen­turies. Con­sid­er the Charles Bridge, which cross­es the Vlta­va (Moldau) riv­er in Prague.

Con­struc­tion began on the famous structure—nearly 1,700 feet (516 meters) long and 33 feet (10 meters) wide—in 1357 under King Charles IV. Forty-five years lat­er, in 1402, the bridge was com­plet­ed. It was dam­aged in the Thir­ty Years’ War, then repaired, dam­aged in floods in the 15th, 18th, and 19th cen­turies, and repaired, and updat­ed with more mod­ern appoint­ments over time, such as gaslights. But its bones, as they say, stayed strong.

In the dig­i­tal­ly ani­mat­ed video above, you can watch the ini­tial con­struc­tion process in fast-motion–nearly half a cen­tu­ry con­densed into 3 min­utes. Built by archi­tect Peter Par­ler, it was orig­i­nal­ly called Stone Bridge. It acquired the king’s name in 1870. “The low-lying medieval struc­ture,” notes Google, who cel­e­brat­ed the 660th anniver­sary of the bridge in 2017, “is com­prised of 16 shal­low arch­es and three Goth­ic tow­ers, and lined with 30 Baroque-style stat­ues,” added some 200 years ago. Every build­ing has its secrets, and the Charles Bridge no doubt has more than most. One of the first has noth­ing to do with hid­den cham­bers or buried remains. Rather, “accord­ing to leg­end, dur­ing con­struc­tion, masons added a secret ingre­di­ent that they thought would make it stronger: eggs!”

See more ani­mat­ed videos of vin­tage con­struc­tion at the Pra­ha Arche­o­log­ic­ka chan­nel on YouTube and learn much more about medieval Prague’s many archi­tec­tur­al sur­pris­es at their site.

via Twist­ed Sifter

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Vir­tu­al Time-Lapse Recre­ation of the Build­ing of Notre Dame (1160)

Take an Aer­i­al Tour of Medieval Paris

Watch 50+ Doc­u­men­taries on Famous Archi­tects & Build­ings: Bauhaus, Le Cor­busier, Hadid & Many More

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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