Solkan stone bridge has the largest stone arch in the world, which represents the highlight of knowledge in bridge building and construction engineering from the beginning of 20th century.
Solkan bridge was built as part of railway line between Trieste and Wien. It is distinguished by exceptional elegance and lightness of stone building and jumps over the Soča as rainbow. With 219.70 meters of length, the bridge rises 36 meters above the middle water level of the river.
It has 85 meters long central bow with light opening. This record so far has not yet been broken, because in the later building techniques they began to use reinforced concrete. Solkan bridge marks the end of the period of thousands of years of constructions of large stone bridges. First concrete bridges, built from 1910, already achieved a range of 100 meters. Solkan bridge was a superior product of Austrian engineering school of bridges and also the last in the generation of large railway bridges, built at the turn of the 19th and 20th century on railways in Austria-Hungary.
The bridge was designed by R. Jaussner and L. Oerley, at first only with 80 meter long stone arch, and was built in years 1904 and 1905 by Viennese construction company Brueder Redlich und Berger. At the beginning of construction, they had to change the original design, due to non-bearing soil and increase the range of the arc to 85 meters. It was built by the segmental method of embedding blocks of cut (dressed) stone and with the gradual termination of individual rings of arc. In big circular arc they built in 4533 of stone blocks – blocks from shell limestone from the quarry Romana in Nabrežina. Blocks have 0.2 to 0.7 m3. They are connected together with a thin layer of cement mortar. Stones were applied by steam elevators. Entire construction process was led by an Austrian engineer Leopold Oerley. At the opening of the bridge on 19 July 1906, the heir of the throne Franz Ferdinand stopped at the bridge at 16.20.
EVENTS FROM THE PAST
Events on Soča front in the First World War were devastating for Solkan bridge. In the battles for Gorica, on august 1916, the main arch of the bridge was demolished. In 1918, they built a temporary steel structure, that allowed traffic over the bridge until 1927, when the Italian state railways, which were managing the bridge, completed the renovation of the arc of cut stone. The reconstruction lasted for two years (beginning in April 1925). The final shape of the bridge is almost identical to the original. The main load-bearing arch of the bridge, built in year 1906 has the shape of a circular arc with a single radius: the lower edge of the carrier arc had a radius of the curvature of 52.33 meters throughout its length. The main barrier arch of the bridge was rebuilt in year 1927 and has a slightly different shape than the previous one, which is no longer part of the right circle and it consists of a polycentric curve with segments with three different radius.
The bridge escaped his cruel fate just for a fraction in Second World War. From allied several cluster bombs, it was brazed only by one and dangerous damage was repaired within a few days by German engineers. The bridge was renovated in year 1954.
In 1985, the railway bridge got a neighbour, a concrete road bridge, which connects cut off Brda with places on Gorica field. Today, the railway bridge is an important element of heritage, defined as a technical monument. Especially beautiful it becomes when it gets dark and is illuminated with headlights. The bridge centenary was celebrated on 19 July 2005.
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