Taken with a Canon SX100IS
Taşköprü (English: Stone Bridge) is a Roman bridge spanning the Seyhan River in Adana. Throughout ancient Anatolia and Persia, the bridge was a vital contribution to the trade routes and until 2007, it was one of the oldest bridges in the world to be open to motorized vehicles. It was then set for pedestrians only, now hosting social and cultural events.
The bridge was known with different names throughout the history; Saros bridge, Justinian bridge and finally Taşköprü.
Taşköprü carries traces of the additions and restorations of many civilizations. Although, there is no definite information on the first construction time of the bridge, it is known that Hittite emperor Hattusili built a bridge in Adana, while heading to Syria. On the other hand, the first written proof about the construction is the Ancient Greek inscription that is found at the Stone Works section of Adana Archeological Museum. The inscription, which was translated by Schneider from German Archeology Institute, is 12 lines and has the height of 122 cm, width of 93 cm and thickness of 12 cm. On the inscription it states;
“The truth is Auxentius, this miracle happened at your reign. On the rivers’ winter flow, it is built as an unshaked column tied with steel. You stretched a wide road on top of it. Prior to this, many unexperienced people had attempts, but their attempts were not even sufficient for the waves of Tarsus Creek. Here you built an eternal arch bridge. Even the overflowing river is obeying to the famous governor for this.”
The inscription indicates that the bridge was built during Roman Empire by the architect Auxentius. Same architect also built a bridge in Rome in 384. The reason that the name of Justinian I is mentioned relating to the construction period on the inscription is probably the extensive restoration of the bridge done by him later.1
The first information about the architect and the builder of the bridge is given by Victor Langlois who visited Adana in 1852-1853. Langlois states that the bridge was built by Hadrian. Hadrian travelled through Anatolia from 120 to 135, activating constructions in many places and thus building this bridge in Adana. Langlois also stated that the inscription that had Hadrian’s name on it had existed in 1841. Unfortunately, this inscription is lost today.
The bridge has been restored many times over the centuries. In 742, during the reign of Umayyad caliph al-Walid II, whose name it took (Jisr al-Walid), and in 840, during the reign of caliph al-Mu’tasim, the bridge has seen renovations. It is written in some sources that, by making additions to the bridge, the bridge was connected to the castle by Abbasid Caliph Harun Reşid. It was restored by another Abbasid Caliph Memun. There is no written source if there was any other restoration until the 17th century.
Another restoration was done in 1847 during Sultan Abdülmecid’s reign. On the restoration inscription (Inventory no: 505 and 506) at Adana Ethnography Museum, it states that the bridge was restored for being in bad shape for so long.
During Sultan Abdülhamid’s reign, another restoration was done at the bridge by Governor Osman Paşa. The inscription is recorded at the Archeological Museum (Inventory no: 2469). There is a yearbook from Abdülhamid II period which explains the status of the bridge and the restorations. On this yearbook, it states;
“On the mentioned Seyhan River, there is a largely built, a solid and an orderly bridge that is made on 22 arches. This bridge is a rare sample of elegance and over the course of time had its sidewalks and some of its arches worn out, thus a neat sidewalk with walls is built to prevent the falling and death of people and animals. Arches are also renovated neatly.”