ONLY selected parts of the oldest bridge over the River Danube in Bratislava are likely to become national cultural heritage sites; the main structure of the Old Bridge will not be protected, however. This was decided on November 28 by the Culture Ministry, though it is possible to file objections against the verdict, the ČTK newswire reported, quoting Jozef Bednár, the ministry’s spokesman. Bratislava City Council should now be able to begin the planned reconstruction of the bridge.
According to the ministry, just the bridge’s pillars (except for the middle one), the toll-houses, the staircases to the bridge and the supporting stone walls will be included on the list of heritage sites. According to Bednár, the ministry did not agree to a proposal by the Monuments Board to include the bridge’s main structure among the parts to be preserved.
“The bridge construction was excluded from the subject of the announcement of a heritage site due to the fact that it is not an original part of the Bridge of Franz Joseph; its construction was planned as a temporary solution during building work between 1945-46, and is currently in a critical condition,” the spokesman said.
Another reason for the decision, according to Bednár, was the requirements of shipping on the Danube. The Danube Commission required Slovakia to raise the level of the bridge’s deck, so that there is no threat of a ship being stranded in the event of high water.
The Old Bridge is the only remaining one over the River Danube at Bratislava which was built before the communist regime came to power in 1948. After it was destroyed during World War II, a new steel construction was erected on the existing pillars as a temporary solution for the transport of army equipment in 1945, but some parts date back to the 19th century.
The City Council had planned to rebuild the bridge completely for about Sk1 billion (€33.19 million); however, the proposed design met with strong protests from some members of the public and architects. Later, the City Council announced another competition.
The bridge is in poor technical condition, and from January only public transport vehicles will be allowed to use it. The City Council was waiting for the Culture Ministry’s decision before making further plans about the future of the bridge.
According to Bednár, the city could completely reconstruct it, for instance by moving the toll-houses during the work, with the approval of the Monuments Board. The bridge’s pillars could also be raised as part of the reconstruction.
15. Dec 2008 at 0:00 | Compiled by Jana Liptáková from press reports