The Bridge of Uzunköprü

The Bridge of Uzunköprü

The Uzunköprü, or Long Bridge, situated in the Balkans on the challenging terrain of the Ergene River, is an impressive feat of engineering that has stood the test of time for nearly six centuries.

Construction of the bridge, which was ordered by Sultan Murad II, was undertaken between 1427 and 1443 by head architect Muslihiddin. The bridge was intended to connect Edirne to Galipoli and Western Rumelia, and was of great military and commercial importance. Built using ashlar blocks sourced from quarries in Yagmurca, Eskikoy, and Hasırcıarnavut, and held together with Horasan cement, the bridge originally spanned a length of 1392 m (4566 ft), with extended wings that no longer exist. However, it currently spans a length of 1238.55 m (4063 ft).

The Bridge of Uzunköprü

The bridge was constructed with seven orifices to prevent collapse during floods, as the Ergene River was known to flood during the rainy season. Its arches, which rise to a height of 13.56 m (44.48 ft), are adorned with intricate relief motifs depicting lions, elephants, birds, eagles, tulips, and geometric shapes.

The Uzunköprü, which took many years to build due to the marshy terrain of the area, remains the world's longest historical stone bridge and is still in use today. It is a testament to the engineering prowess of the Ottomans and an important part of the region's cultural heritage.

The Uzunköprü (Long Bridge) has undergone numerous restorations since its construction due to floods and earthquakes that have damaged it. Over the years, the bridge has been restored under the reigns of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror, Osman II, Mahmud II, and Abdulhamid II. In 1964-1971, the bridge underwent another restoration, increasing its breadth from 5.24 meters (17.19 feet) to 6.80 meters (22.3 feet).

Built during the Ottoman Early Period, the Uzunköprü Bridge is a stunning example of Ottoman architecture. Its impressive length, strength, and design showcase the technical, artistic, and architectural accomplishments of that time. The bridge symbolizes mankind's determination to overcome difficult obstacles.

Originally, the bridge had 174 arches, but over time, one crumbled, and two were combined into one, reducing the total number of arches to 172. A new restoration and rehabilitation effort are planned, and it is expected that the bridge will be restored to its original form and pedestrianized.