Silves council has decided to close the town’s old bridge, used by pedestrians only, due to an “imminent risk of collapse”.
The news came just a few days before the town becomes crowded with thousands of people as it hosts its largest event of the year, the hugely popular Medieval Fair, starting tomorrow (August 12) and ending Sunday, August 21.
People are banned from using the bridge, which is now totally cordoned off. Traffic has been cut off from the bridge for many years, and is instead channeled through the parallel bridge nearby.
In a statement, the council cited three reports and studies that indicate the bridge is “in an advanced state of degradation and is at an imminent risk of collapsing”. Thus to avoid any tragic accidents, the council ruled to close the bridge.
A project to restore it is already being worked on, but Silves is calling on the regional cultural board to help fund it.
Algarve culture boss Alexandra Gonçalves told online news website Sulinformação that though the bridge “belongs entirely to the borough”, the culture board is working together with Silves council to “help identify the possible sources of funding that can be obtained for the work”.
She added that the board is also available to provide “technical support”.
The two entities are expected to meet this week to discuss the issue.
In March, the bridge also made headlines but for better reasons.
It was revealed that the structure was in the process of being named a “monument of public interest” by the Portuguese government (click here).
Though it is certain that the bridge has existed for several hundreds of years, its origin is still debatable.
It is often referred to as Silves’ “Roman bridge” and most records indicate it was built in the 14th century.
It has undergone several renovations since, and it currently links the north and south banks of the Arade river.
Along with the town’s castle and cork museum, the bridge is often named one of Silves’ main landmarks.