Year of 2017

Pont Saint-Bénézet and Rhône River, Avignon, France

The water under the bridge in this image belongs to the Rhône River, which flows some 500 miles through Europe on its way to the Mediterranean. Here in Avignon, France, the Rhône flows under the remains of a medieval bridge known as Pont Saint-Bénézet, named for a young shepherd boy. Legend says that sometime around 1177 Bénézet had a vision from God instructing him to build the bridge. He miraculously lifted a block of heavy stone, which inspired the city to help, and Bénézet went on to found a brotherhood of bridge builders.

The Pont Saint-Bénézet, also known as the Pont d’Avignon, is a famous medieval bridge in the town of Avignon, in southern France. A bridge spanning the Rhône between Villeneuve-lès-Avignon and Avignon was built between 1177 and 1185. This early bridge was destroyed forty years later during the Albigensian Crusade when Louis VIII of France laid siege to Avignon. The bridge was rebuilt with 22 stone arches. It was very costly to maintain as the arches tended to collapse when the Rhône flooded. Eventually in the middle of the 17th century the bridge was abandoned. The four surviving arches on the bank of the Rhône are believed to have been built in around 1345 by Pope Clement VI during the Avignon Papacy. The Chapel of Saint Nicholas sits on the second pier of the bridge. It was constructed in the second half of 12th century but has since been substantially altered. The western terminal, the Tour Philippe-le-Bel, is also preserved.
Phone: 04 90 80 93 93
Opened: 1185
Closed: 1668
Longest span: 115 feet (35 m)
Length: 2,953 feet (900 m)
Clearance below: 82′ 0″ (25 m)
Avenio vulgo Avignon (Atlas van Loon)
Map of Avignon printed in 1663, showing missing arches