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:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.