One of the monuments of Arta, is its famous and legendary bridge. It is the most famous arch bridge of Epirus, which connects the two banks of River Arachthos and it is distinguished by its unique architecture but also for the legends connected with its manufacture. The construction causes admiration. At times there were repairs and additions made in manufacturing, most recently that of 1612. It is the bridge whose difficult construction gave food to the tradition, the myth, the poetry, the painting, the music and the theater so as to praise the difficult struggle of the man for projects like this. There are charming legends refering to the building of the bridge, with the most touching that of the sacrifice made by the master builder’s wife. The well-known folk song “Arta’s bridge” that was standard for variations across the Balkans, says about a verse: “If you do not haunt a human the bridge does not consolidate”.

The popular tradition since ancient times requires sacrifice to the foundations of difficult projects, with the most intense being that of a human sacrifice as the one of the bridge of Arta.

Historical research states that this legend hid for several years a historical truth for the region of Arta and Epirus in general. When a big Turkish army force had to go through the area, the Turks asked the help of residents. Many craftsmen and artisans run to help. But when they learned the reason for which the bridge had to be constructed, they went at night and demolished what they had built the previous day. The Turks sought to know why the project was so slow and they finally said that the place is haunted. The Turkish commander then ordered the arrest of the master builder and his wife’s killing. Then they were all feared and completed the bridge.

In folk songs, 1300 bricklayers, 60 students, 45 craftsmen (engineers) under the master were trying to build a bridge whose foundations every morning were ruined. Until a bird with human voice announced that in order to succesfully build the bridge the wife of the master builder should die.

This legend with the ancient roots comes across in the folk traditions of other Balkan people. The man is confronted with the elements of nature and is weak to tame them resorting to spells and sacrifices of loved ones.

Amalia
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