Despite the intense population of the Guadalquivir valley since prehistoric times, the river has had very few bridges throughout its history, mainly due to the unstable nature of the terrain it crosses and its irregular character, with frequent and regular floods. , which always hampered the layout of engineering works in their surroundings.
In fact, until the Triana bridge was built in 1852, there was no fixed connection between the two banks of the Guadalquivir south of Córdoba, where a bridge has existed since Roman times.
On the other hand, the Romans did not undertake the work of equipping Hispalis with a bridge, despite the importance that we know that the city and its neighbor Italica reached, probably for the same reasons of fluvial instability that we have already commented on.
In the Almohad period, around the year 1171, the first and only stable bridge that the city had until the construction of the current Isabel II or Triana bridge, already in the middle of the 19th century. It was in the same place as the current one and consisted of about ten boats moored together with chains on which two large wooden platforms were arranged.
This structure made it possible to solve with a certain guarantee the connection of the city with its suburb of Triana, thus facilitating the supply of products that arrived from Aljarafe. However, the regular floods of the river made it a rather unstable infrastructure, which had to be subjected to constant repairs and replacements of some of its boats, with the consequent problems that this entailed for the access and exit of people and goods from the city. town.
These circumstances led to the idea of equipping Seville with a construction bridge from very early on. There are numerous projects since the 16th century, but all of them were successively parked, until in the 19th century the idea prevailed that it was necessary to tackle this problem definitively, finally deciding on the execution of the current Isabel II bridge project or Triana, which was completed in 1852, becoming one of the icons of the city.
From then on, many others were built in the surroundings of Seville, until today there are more than twenty, among those that cross the living riverbed of the Guadalquivir and those that do so on the Alfonso XIII dock that runs between the center and Triana. There are very diverse characteristics, from those that fulfill a merely functional function to those that meet notable artistic values, representative of the time in which they were built.
The 1992 Universal Exposition would be a decisive event in terms of this type of infrastructure in the city. To condition its surroundings, in the years immediately preceding, some of the most beautiful bridges that Seville has today were built, such as the Barqueta bridge or the impressive Alamillo bridge, which has become one of the icons of the city. town.
It would be very extensive to talk about each and every one of the Sevillian bridges, but it is possible to sketch a route from south to north, dealing with the most emblematic of the city.
Puente de San Telmo
The original design of the San Telmo bridge corresponds to the engineer José Eugenio Ribera and was executed between 1925 and 1931, to link the center of the city with the Los Remedios neighborhood, which at that time had barely been projected.
It was built in concrete, with a length of 238 meters and a width of 15 m. It consists of two large reinforced concrete arches and a central one, which was originally a drawbar, but which was remade as a fixed one in a refurbishment of the mid-60s, due to the high cost of its maintenance since there were already very few tall ships Passing by needed to go through it.
The original project of the bridge, from the 1920s, featured more decorative elements, with a more modernist air. However, by the years of its completion, this decorative design had largely passed out of fashion and a simpler aesthetic was chosen, revealing more clearly the structure of the bridge and the concrete in which it was made.
Puente de Isabel II o de Triana
The Isabel II bridge, generally called the Triana bridge, was built in 1852, being the oldest in Seville and the oldest preserved metal bridge in all of Spain.
It stands in the place where the so-called Barcas bridge stood for centuries, which was the only stable connection between Seville and Triana, since it was placed by the Almohads in the 12th century until the 19th century, where it was built. the actual.
The execution of the bridge was entrusted to the engineers Fernando Bernadet and Gustavo Steinacher, who followed the model of the Carousel bridge in Paris, the work of the engineer Polonceau. The Parisian bridge was replaced at the beginning of the 20th century, but photographs are preserved that show the extraordinary similarity between the two, although the Sevillian one is somewhat longer, since the Guadalquivir in this section is wider than the Seine.
It has a length of 155 meters and a width of 16 meters on its platform. It rests on three sections of metal arches, supported by stone pillars. In the spandrels there are a series of metallic rings, of decreasing size as they approach the keystone of the arch, constituting the most distinctive visual element of the bridge.
The bridge required numerous foundation and reform reforms shortly after it was inaugurated, to adapt it to the growing traffic. In one of the most important, in 1977, the entire deck was replaced, which stopped resting on the metal arches and their rings, so that they lost their structural function, currently conserving only a decorative function.
Puente del Cristo de la Expiración o del "Cachorro"
The construction of the Cristo de la Expiración or “Cachorro” bridge was completed in 1991, within the infrastructure improvement program that took place prior to the 1992 Expo. Specifically, the Guadalquivir basin was extended again. towards the north of Chapina, with which the river gained about 4 kilometers of route that had been previously drained when moving its channel to avoid flooding.
The bridge was designed by José Luis Manzanares Japan, taking its shape from another Parisian bridge, in this case the Alexander III bridge. It has a length of 223 meters and a width of 31, supported by a structure of two lowered and parallel arches, with a span of 126 meters and without any support under water, so it rests only on the ends.
At present, it is the main connecting route from the city to Aljarafe and Huelva. In addition to its name, it is also known as the Chapina bridge or as the bridge of the "tolditos", since its sidewalks are covered by white canvases supported by poles that allow avoiding the sun when crossing it, constituting one of its most visual elements. characteristic.
Puente de la Barqueta
It is a work of the engineers Juan José Arenas de Pablo and Marcos Jesús Pantaleón Prieto, completed in 1992, as the main access route from the city to the Universal Exhibition site. Initially, its use was pedestrian, although its project already provided for its suitability for road traffic. It was built on land and later placed on its site with the help of barges.
It has a length of 168 meters and a width of 21, with a platform suspended from a large steel arch of 214 meters, which opens at its ends to form a kind of triangular porticoes, under which traffic flows through the bridge. These ends of the arch rest on four vertical supports, two at each end of the bridge, without any intermediate support.
Puente del Alamillo
The Alamillo bridge is the most iconic of those made in Seville for the Expo. It is a design by Santiago Calatrava and was built between 1989 and 1992.
It consists of a platform about 200 meters long by 30 meters wide, supported following the typology of "cable-stayed bridge with counterweight pylon", widely used by this Valencian architect. A single 140 meter high mast supports the entire platform, by means of 26 tie rods that give the whole the characteristic harp shape.
Initially, the project included another identical and symmetrical bridge over the section of the river that separates the Cartuja from Camas, but budgetary reasons led to this idea being discarded and it was decided to build a more conventional bridge, the Corta bridge, in its place.
The Alamillo Bridge was the tallest building in the city until 2015, when the Torre Sevilla was inaugurated. Santiago Calatrava later built other bridges that follow the typology of the Alamillo model, such as the Puente de la Mujer in Buenos Aires or that of l'Assut de l'Or in Valencia.