This article has been previously published as a part of book Antalya, Side and Alanya: TAN Travel Guide by Izabela Miszczak
Köprüçay River, known in ancient times as Eurymedon, every year attracts a lot of tourists who want to diversify their beach holidays on the Turkish Riviera by participating in rafting on this river. Meanwhile, near Eurymedon many attractive places for history lovers can also be found - including the beautifully preserved ancient city of Aspendos. If you travel in search of historical curiosities on Eurymedon, make sure you do not miss the historic bridge in its lower course. It was built during the Roman period and rebuilt by the Seljuks in the 13th century. Now it is an interesting illustration of the creative use of ancient material heritage in the history of the region.
The exact date of the construction of the Roman bridge over Eurymedon is not known. During the construction of the bridge, the fragments of the aqueduct of Aspendos, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 363 CE, were utilised. Therefore, it is assumed that the bridge was built in the late 4th century CE. It is likely that another bridge had existed in this location earlier, and after it had collapsed during the earthquake, it was rebuilt with the stones obtained from the collapsed aqueduct.
The original shape of this Roman bridge was recreated digitally by scientists, on the basis of its preserved fragments, used in the later Seljuk bridge and the fragments excavated from the riverbed. It has been determined that the bridge crossed the river at right angles and had a total length of nearly 260 meters. It was supported by nine semicircular arches, and on its both sides there were ramps to facilitate the entrance. The width of the bridge was 9.5 meters, and it rose above the water more than 4 meters higher than the later, Seljuk construction.
When, at the beginning of the 13th century, the Seljuks occupied Pamphylia region, crossing the Eurymedon without a boat was not possible as Roman bridge had been destroyed sometime earlier by another earthquake. Sultan Alâeddin Keykûbad ordered the construction of a new bridge, and the workers reused the remains of an ancient Roman structure. It turned out, however, that some of the Roman pillars had been moved by the current of the river. As a result, the new Seljuk bridge, supported on these ancient pillars, was built in an amazing, zig-zag shape.
The Seljuk bridge, which to this day stands over Köprüçay River, is a much more modest structure than its Roman predecessor. Suffice to say that it has half the width of the earlier structure and is much shorter, supported on seven arches only. If you examine it more carefully, you will notice the elements of the old aqueduct. Restoration work, conducted in the 90s of the 20th century, resulted in uncovering stone inscriptions on the bridge - both in Greek and Arabic. In 2013, the bridge underwent another renovation.
By public transport: all minibuses and coaches travelling to Antalya from Alanya and Manavgat pass very close to the bridge. You have to ask the driver to stop at the intersection with the road to Aspendos and walk 600 meters on foot.
By car: the bridge is situated 90 km west of Alanya, 30 km west of Side and 45 km east of Antalya. The right turn-off towards the bridge from D400 route is also the direction to Aspendos, so follow brown signposts indicating the road to this ancient city.