Bridges in Iran
“Bridges in Iran” is a topic that could be extended to books with many pages.
The vast land of Iran is a high plateau with many elevations. The central part of Iran is formed by the desert and Lut plain, surrounded by the Alborz Mountains in the north and the Zagros Mountains in the west and the eastern mountains.
The existence of these low and high altitudes has caused climatic diversity so that in the northern and western districts, the amount of rainfall is relatively high and in the central part of the rainfall is very low.
However, Iran has a vast network of running water, both as permanent rivers and as temporary rivers.
Rivers were major obstacles to caravan routes. Inevitably, the need to build a bridge for road construction was strongly felt.
It may be difficult to answer the question of who started the construction of the first bridge, but undoubtedly when humans were able to build a dam by accumulating rocks or soils in front of the water and direct the rivers to their desired routes, bridge construction started by using tree trunks to cross the rivers.
In Iran, there are enough ruins of old bridges to study the art of bridge construction from ancient times.
The oldest bridge in Iran is the one built by the Urartu on the Aras River, which is now the border between Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan. Although the bridge was destroyed around the eighth century BC, there are still enough traces of it to understand the existence of the bridge and its design and size.
In the Achaemenid period, which was the era of conquests and military campaigns, the biggest obstacles were rivers that stood in their way. But, the experts always solved the problem with tact and solutions.
Historical texts of this period show that during the establishment of the royal roads, several bridges were built in Iran along the road, of which there are few traces today.
Only in the corners of the vast country of Iran can be seen the ruins of bridges attributed to this period, which were built around palaces and gardens of Pasargadae in the fifth and fourth centuries BC and a few years ago archaeologists excavated them.
No Parthian bridges have been found in Iran, but it is inconceivable that new roads were not constructed in the middle of this period, especially the Silk Road, which began in China and through Kashgar, Samarkand, Merv, Balkh, and northern Iran to Asia Minor and Rome. Could you imagine this possible without a bridge?
Considering the remnants of the Sassanid reign in Iran, we find that the Sassanid had a brilliant history in construction and architecture, in addition to the necessary conditions which at the time required that bridge construction.
This need was most noticeable in the Khuzestan region, which had roaring rivers.
Bridges attributed to this period in the Fars region are Pirin and Khair Abad bridges, Sassanid bridge of Darrehshahr, Dokhtar Mamolan bridge, Sassanid bridge of Kashkan in the Lorestan region is a proof of the importance of roads and bridge construction in this era.
In Khuzestan, there are several cases of combining bridges and dams. At a distance of 300 meters west of the dam, the ruins of a bridge can be seen, which is known as Shadirvan Bridge.
Some of the bridges attributed to the Sassanid have only Sassanid foundations and were built in Islamic periods.
Bridge construction stagnated in the first two centuries of Islam, and if a bridge was ever built across the country, it was the result of the efforts of rulers and wealthy natives, not the government.
There are no reliable documents and sources about the construction of the first bridge in the Islamic period. Hamdollah Mustawfi writes: The first bridge in the Islamic era was built by Bakr bin Abdullah on the Aras River.
The fourth-century AH coincides with the rule of two Shiite sects in Iran, the Buyid dynasty, which ruled in Hamedan, Rey, Isfahan, and Iraq, and the Hassanid Kurdish tribe, which ruled in Lorestan and Kurdistan.
The Daylamites paid a lot of attention to the development of the areas under their eye, and for this reason, not only were most of the ruined bridges at that time repaired, but they also built large bridges and huge dams. Band-e Amir Bridge and Talkan Bridge are examples of works of this period.
Several dams and bridges remain from the Ghaznavid era. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Tus Bridge, which overlooks the Kashafrud River on the road that connected Tus to the cities of Herat and Balkh.
There are credible documents that show that bridge construction was of special importance during the Seljuk period. Band-e Qesar on Karbal River in Fars is one of the well-constructed examples of this period.
During the Ilkhanate dynasty, after the establishment of peace in the country, the construction of bridges and roads continued. One of the most important bridges of this period is the strong and beautiful bridge that Alishah Jilani built on the Zayanderud River.
The chaos that had arisen throughout Iran after the death of Sultan Abu Sa’id Teymouri subsided with the advent of Shah Ismail Safavid and the severe repression of the enemies, and peace based on power emerged and paved the way for reforms during the reign of Shah Abbas.
Since Shah Abbas choose Isfahan as the capital of all Iran, this city expanded as one of the most wonderful cities in the East and became a full-fledged mirror of Safavid architecture.
In this city, several bridges were built on the Zayanderud River. Sio- Se- Pol Bridge, Khaju Bridge, and the wooden bridge, in addition to providing traffic, the place of recreation of the king and courtiers and sometimes ambassadors of foreign countries in this era.
Most of the bridges that can be seen in different parts of Iran today are valuable works related to this period.
Unfortunately, during the Afsharid dynasty, not much attention was paid to road construction and bridges in Iran. More or less during the Zand dynasty, bridges gained some attention from the government like the bridge of Khoshk River in Shiraz, which is one of the innovations of Karim Khan.
During the rule of the Qajar sultans, due to the Shaky foundations of independence, disorder, hypocrisy, and betrayal of agents, no important action was taken to reform the country.
Bridges in Iran in the last century have followed new architectural methods, often made of iron and reinforced concrete, or in which cut stones have been used.
There are two very large bridges on the Iranian railway, which are different from ordinary bridges due to their grandeur. One of them is the Veresk Bridge in the Alborz Mountains, built by German engineers, and the other is the Ghotour Bridge in West Azerbaijan, built by Austrian engineers.
The 153-meter-long White Bridge, which was inaugurated in 1930, and Ahvaz Grand Bridge over the Karun River are also masterpieces of bridge construction in the recent century.
Bridges in Iran, like any other place, were not just to ease the traffic, they were also connection routs for people in different districts. Can you see the cultural trade when you look at a bridge?