St. Servatius Bridge (Sint Servaasbrug) connects pedestrian traffic from the Binnenstad district of Maastricht on the west bank of the Meuse to the Wyck district on the east bank. It is named after Saint Servatius, the first bishop of Maastricht, and (despite being largely rebuilt after World War II) it has been called the oldest bridge in the Netherlands. The bridge is made of limestone, and in its current configuration it is 160 metres long and 9 metres wide.
The Romans built a wooden bridge across the Meuse in what is now Maastricht, in approximately AD 50, and the Latin phrase for 'crossing of the Meuse', 'mosae trajectum', became the name of the city. For many years this remained the only crossing of the lower Meuse. However, the Roman bridge collapsed in the year 1275 from the weight of a large procession, killing 400 people. Its replacement, the present bridge, was built somewhat to the north of the older crossing between 1280 and 1298; the Catholic church encouraged its construction by providing indulgences to people who helped build it.
The bridge was renovated in 1680, and in 1825 a wooden strutwork section on the east side of the bridge was replaced by a stone arch. In 1850, as part of the construction of the Maastricht-Liège Canal, a channel was cut on the west side of the bridge.
When in the early 1930s the bridge had been relieved of its function as the city's only river crossing by the construction of the Wilhelmina bridge, 300 metres downstream, a major renovation was performed. The arches were reconstructed in concrete, covered with the original stones. Underwater, counter-arches were constructed to prevent erosion of the river bed on which the bridge was built. Two arches on the eastern end of the bridge were removed and replaced by a vertical-lift bridge.
During World War II the bridge was severely damaged by the German army as they retreated from the Netherlands in 1944, but it was rebuilt in 1948. In 1962, the shipping channel to the east of the bridge was spanned by a steel drawbridge attached to the main bridge.References:
From its origin as a small stronghold built by the ancient Illyrian tribe Dalmatae, becoming a royal castle that was the seat of many Croatian kings, to its final development as a large fortress during the Ottoman wars in Europe, Klis Fortress has guarded the frontier, being lost and re-conquered several times. Due to its location on a pass that separates the mountains Mosor and Kozjak, the fortress served as a major source of defense in Dalmatia, especially against the Ottoman advance, and has been a key crossroad between the Mediterranean belt and the Balkan rear.
Since Duke Mislav of the Duchy of Croatia made Klis Fortress the seat of his throne in the middle of the 9th century, the fortress served as the seat of many Croatia"s rulers. The reign of his successor, Duke Trpimir I, the founder of the Croatian royal House of Trpimirović, is significant for spreading Christianity in the Duchy of Croatia. He largely expanded the Klis Fortress, and in Rižinice, in the valley under the fortress, he built a church and the first Benedictine monastery in Croatia. During the reign of the first Croatian king, Tomislav, Klis and Biograd na Moru were his chief residences.
In March 1242 at Klis Fortress, Tatars who were a constituent segment of the Mongol army under the leadership of Kadan suffered a major defeat while in pursuit of the Hungarian army led by King Béla IV. After their defeat by Croatian forces, the Mongols retreated, and Béla IV rewarded many Croatian towns and nobles with 'substantial riches'. During the Late Middle Ages, the fortress was governed by Croatian nobility, amongst whom Paul I Šubić of Bribir was the most significant. During his reign, the House of Šubić controlled most of modern-day Croatia and Bosnia. Excluding the brief possession by the forces of Bosnian King, Tvrtko I, the fortress remained in Hungaro-Croatian hands for the next several hundred years, until the 16th century.
Klis Fortress is probably best known for its defense against the Ottoman invasion of Europe in the early 16th century. Croatian captain Petar Kružić led the defense of the fortress against a Turkish invasion and siege that lasted for more than two and a half decades. During this defense, as Kružić and his soldiers fought without allies against the Turks, the military faction of Uskoks was formed, which later became famous as an elite Croatian militant sect. Ultimately, the defenders were defeated and the fortress was occupied by the Ottomans in 1537. After more than a century under Ottoman rule, in 1669, Klis Fortress was besieged and seized by the Republic of Venice, thus moving the border between Christian and Muslim Europe further east and helping to contribute to the decline of the Ottoman Empire. The Venetians restored and enlarged the fortress, but it was taken by the Austrians after Napoleon extinguished the republic itself in 1797. Today, Klis Fortress contains a museum where visitors to this historic military structure can see an array of arms, armor, and traditional uniforms.