Viscontian Bridge-Dam

World Monuments Watch
Valeggio sul Mincio, Italy

2008 World Monuments Watch

The Viscontian bridge-dam in Valeggio sul Mincio is a remnant of a larger defense system put in place by Count Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Duke of Milan, when he ruled Lombardy in the late fourteenth century. He commissioned it to serve not only as a bridge, but also as a defensive structure that would aid in the fortification of the Verona area. Beyond protecting the area, the Duke envisioned using the waters behind the dam to flood downhill townships or deprive neighboring regions of water in times of conflict. Construction on this complex project began in 1393, but stopped four years later, never to be completed. The bridge and embattlements were finished, but the proposed dam features were never realized. The bridge was repaired in 1451, but was closed in the early sixteenth century when part of the structure collapsed. It was not repaired or used again until 1929. The regional Ministry of Cultural Heritage has listed the bridge as a monument of national interest. Natural aging, water infiltration, bird infestation, and uncontrolled vegetation have damaged some 75 percent of the structure. It is hoped that listing will draw attention to this unique piece of medieval engineering.

Last updated:
July 2008

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