Solkan Bridge, Slovenia

The Solkan Bridge is a railway bridge over the Soča river in Slovenia very close to the border with Italy.  It was opened on 19 July 1906 by the heir to the Austrian throne, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand who was shot at Sarajevo eight years later. It has an arch span of 85 metres making it the longest stone bridge in the world and is likely to continue to hold this record for some time as modern bridges are built from reinforced concrete.  It is built of 4,533 stone blocks.

The bridge was designed by the architect Rudolf Jaussner and engineer Leopold Örley and built by Brüder Redlich und Berger from Vienna.   

The importance of the bridge was that it linked Vienna, the capital of the Empire, with Trieste, the fourth largest city and the most important port.  There is only a single track across the bridge.

The bridge was destroyed on 9 August 1916 after the Italian army captured Gorizia during the Sixth Battle of the Isonzo.  After Austro Hungary recaptured the area in October 1917, the bridge was given a temporary repair that allowed trains to cross.  After WW1, the bridge found itself on Italian soil and it was rebuilt in 1927. One can see the date still on the bridge.

Owing to its importance, two attempts were made to destroy it during WW2.  The first bomb attack was made on 10 August 1944 which was unsuccessful.  On 15 March 1945 a direct hit on the bridge was made, however the bomb went straight through the bridge without exploding and thus it survived.

After WW2  the bridge was located in Yugoslavia.  Trains still use the bridge today but traffic is infrequent.  There are signs up that pedestrians are not to use the bridge but it seems as though they are ignored by the locals.

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