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Ponte Fabricio & Tiber Island

Explore > Italy > Rome > Ponte Fabricio & Tiber Island

Ponte Fabricio


 
 
 
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Overview



The Ponte Fabricio is the oldest Roman bridge in Rome, Italy, still existing in its original state. Built in 62 BC, it spans half of the Tiber River, from the Campus Martius on the east side to Tiber Island in the middle (the Pons Cestius is west of the island).

Tiber Island is a boat-shaped island which has long been associated with healing. The island is located in the southern bend of the Tiber. It is approximately 270 m. long and 67 m. wide.

Tiber Island was once the location of an ancient temple to Aesculapius, the Greek god of medicine and healing. Accounts say that in 293 BC, there was a great plague in Rome. Upon consulting the Sibyl, the Roman Senate was instructed to build a temple to Aesculapius, the Greek god of healing, and sent a delegation to Epidauros to obtain a statue of the deity. The delegation went on board a ship to sail out and obtain a statue. Following their belief system, they obtained a snake from a temple and put in on board their ship. It immediately curled itself around the ship's mast and this was deemed as a good sign by them. Upon their return up the Tiber river, the snake slithered off the ship and swam onto the island. They believed that this was a sign from Aesculapius, a sign which meant that he wanted his temple to be built on that island. This location may have been chosen for the Aesculapius Temple because it was separate from the rest of the city, which could help protect whoever was there from plague and illnesses.

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