Interview to Dr. Miquel Vives and Prof. Andrés Martínez

Here you can listen an audio by two retired teachers from our high school (Pompeu Fabra) about Devil's Bridge from an historical point of view and a traditional point of view

Dr.Vives is an historian an it was head of the department of history and our school and also principal in the 1990's

Prof. Andrés Martínez was a head of the departament of Greek and Latin of our High School

Francisco Pérez 248 · Pont del Diable (Martorell)

Translation and transcription of the interview

What is the origin of the bridge and why was it built here?

The bridge is of Roman origin and was built around 10 BC. One was in a Roman road denominated Via Augusta that had different names, went from Rome to Cadiz. It was 130 meters long and a very wide path was almost horizontal and probably 3 arches over the riverbed. Of the Roman era almost nothing is preserved only the stirrups of the bridge made with large ashlars that have inscriptions of the legions that built it and there is an honorary triumphal arch, which probably more than triumphant marked the boundaries, located in the left frame is posterior. . The bridge was destroyed at a time we do not know and Martorell, a town documented in 1033, was built mainly as a bridgehead to defend this bridge, which defended Barcelona from the attacks of Al-Andalus. At the same time, to defend this bridgehead, the Castle of Rosanes was located at the top of a hill, we now know it as the castle of the Pyrenees.

And when did they redo it with the shape it currently has?

Between the years 1283 and 1295 it is recorded that the bridge was rebuilt under the direction of Bernat Sellés who had two gongival arches, one larger and one smaller and being narrower and steeper, it was only suitable for transport of mules. The bridge is restored at least twice in Century XVIII, by the military engineer Juan Martin Sermeño and second in 1963 under the direction of the architect Camil Pallàs, that returned to realize all the central arc that was flown when the Republican army was retreating.

Why is it called Devil's Bridge?

Legend has it that an old woman had trouble crossing a river and desperately offered anything to the devil in exchange for a bridge. The devil appeared immediately and they made a pact, the soul of the first creature to cross the bridge would be the price of the work. Then the woman tricked him into passing a cat so the devil would do the job, but the old woman was saved. It is a type of legend that is very common there are many Devil's Bridges, it is estimated that in Catalonia there may be about 50, in the Pyrenees or in the Valcanos in France there may be hundreds but thousands of bridges that have similar legends.

And what is the meaning of this legend?

There are many works of technical architecture that throughout the Middle Ages, when the origin is forgotten it seems that if it is very difficult to do it people did not know how to do it then attributing to the Romans cost a little and the reason is that Christianity claimed to be superior to the Romans, then if there was a job that the Romans had done and did not know, the thing created a problem. Then it was very easy to resort to the legend that in reality this work had not been done by the Romans but by the devil, then it was a matter of looking good while maintaining this supposed superiority. The problem is that if you admitted that the devil was the perpetrator then there was a moral problem, like using a job done by the devil, it was necessary to gain the right to use it by deceiving the devil, you had to be more cunning than the devil and that gave you the right to use a play. On the other hand, legends always say that the work is often not completely finished, it is usable but not finished, a stone is missing due to a hoax. There are even cathedrals that have a legend that was built by a devil, such as the colony cathedral, and it is said that it was never finished because it was the work of a devil. There are many bridges and many kinds of buildings that have a similar legend.