It is a work of the civil engineer Javier Manterola, particularly famous for his work as bridges designer. It is located in Zamora, a small city in the northwest of Spain. This bridge has been recently constructed and it becomes the fourth bridge linking the two banks of the city separated by the river Duero.
It is located about 900 m from the Stone Bridge and connects the neighborhood of Olivares and the Field of the truth, on the right bank, with the San Frontis neighborhood on the left bank and a few meters below “Los Pelambres”, common recreation area in the summer months. The infrastructure completely frees the Stone Bridge from traffic, which is currently pedestrian, and improves connections to the city of Zamora.
Historically, the Duero River served as the southern border of the main population and as the city rises above a large rocky plain and was largely surrounded by walls, that is why the city won the nickname of “the well-fenced”. Today this area forms mainly the old town and this is where we found most of churches and mansions of the 12th century that make the extraordinary set of Romanesque architecture of Zamora, the largest in Spain and one of the most important in Europe, giving the name of Romanesque city. This was something that the new Poets Bridge should respect.
Due to population growth and city expansion, what in the Middle Ages was a big plus as border became a problem. The Duero separates very important population centers and that is why other bridges were built throughout history. Today there are three bridges that cross the river Duero in Zamora joining both banks, now accompanied by the Poets Bridge
In first place is the aforementioned Stone Bridge, which for centuries was the only way to cross the river in the city. Its construction dates from the 13th century and has subsequently been restored several times to facilitate the transit of vehicles. Today it is one of the most representative symbols of Zamora.
Secondly we have the Iron Bridge, which is a bridge built in the late 19th century and has five sections riveted by metal lattice type San Andres crosses. It lengths 253 meters, and is supported on factory piles.
Finally the “Three Trees Bridge” is part of the inlet section to the city through the urban highway ZA-13. It is the widest and largest of the three and has four lanes, two in each direction.
The recent construction of the Bridge of Poets means, as we said, the fourth bridge connecting both sides of Zamora. It has a length of 424.50 meters, saved by six openings in total, among which stand out the three central, responsible for crossing the riverbed of Duero, with 92 meters span each. The plan of the bridge is curved with a constant radius of 650 meters and its cross section is drawer type with an upper slab of 14.7 meters that puts up two sidewalks and two lanes.
The approaches to the bridge are a new highway system that consists of four different sections that allow linking with Almaraz road and the N-122, on the right bank, and the Carrascal road and CL-527, on the left, by a set of six new roundabouts. Thus communication is improved structuring both urban and long-distance communication, as the two roads are linked now without the need to cross Zamora.
The construction methodology of the openings of the bridge was not homogeneous, instead two construction methods were used: the openings 3, 4 and 5, covering the river, were built by cantilever-site implementation; while the openings 1, 2 and 6 were built with formwork curd, with the particularity that the sixth was arcaded formwork vain to save the riverbed of a stream that prevented formwork towers to be placed.
It is a bridge that has wanted to make a nod to the nearby Stone Bridge, therefore the construction of eyes emulating it, and did not want to be the protagonist of space, leaving the role to the nearby Cathedral. For that reason it was never projected a cable-stayed or ostentatious bridge: it would not fit into such a landmark. However, fitting the bridge in that environment was the biggest problem when it comes to project.
It is essential the visual lightness of the board provided, achieved thanks to the combination of factors such as the small profile and the play between the curve plan and the slope. The finish on concrete also contributes to this feeling, as well as the night lighting.
From the left bank of the river we can see the whole contrast between the modernity that suppose this bridge next to the Romanesque Cathedral and a well-preserved part of the ancient wall that surrounded the city. This is the most important view to keep in mind regarding landscape integration as on the right side is where all the architectural heritage of the city is concentrated.
We can conclude, therefore, that despite the fact that projects of this kind will always have objectors, the new bridge is anchored in an environment of great monumental wealth in an excellent way and is already an inseparable part of the image of Zamora. We must mention that it relieves the traffic congestion in the city and enabled the pedestrianization of the Stone Bridge, preventing deterioration and improving its persistence.
Daniel Pérez Martín
Pablo García-Arenal Torán
Universidad Politécnica de Madrid