Solkan Bridge, the World’s Longest Stone-arch Bridge Railway

Slovenia, as a country, includes a lot of unique things, even in spite of its size. Those ones include nature, weather, flora and fauna, mountains, music, culture, cuisine, vine and other drinks, festivals, cities, and even some records. One such record is Solkan Bridge.

Solkan Bridge is the world’s longest stone-arch bridge railway. It is a 219.7-meter viaduct bridge near the city of Nova Gorica.

Why Is It So Famous?

The bridge is a pearl of Slovenia and Slovenian tourism. Despite the fact that it is located far away from the center of the country or the capital, Ljubljana, the bridge attracts hundreds of tourists every year because of its marvelous landscapes.

The bridge is located on the settlement called Solkan as well. It got the name exactly after the village, which lies on the border between Slovenia and Italy. The closest big city is Nova Gorica, where tourists usually stay. Moreover, the bridge hangs over the Soča River, one more touristic pearl of Slovenia, that is well known for its unique emerald green color of the water.

The length of the whole construction is 219.7-meter (721 ft). Solkan Bridge is a viaduct. This means that the bridge is constructed of a series of arches, piers, or columns supporting the main road on the top. The technology takes its roots from ancient Roman aqueducts. In the center of the bridge, there is the main stone arch of 85 meters (279 ft) that is the longest such one in the world. However, it is the second one to consider all stone arch bridges where the first place is taken by Germany’s Syratal Viaduct, which is a road bridge.

Solkan Bridge holds the Bohinj railway road that goes from Jesenice to Gorica. Therefore, you can take a ticket to travel between these two towns or any other location on the road. Usually, people do this to enjoy adorable landscapes and take beautiful photos of the bridge, the emerald green river, and the old-style train in one shot.

History of the Bridge

In fact, the bridge still holds the record because it was one of the last bridges built by this technology. Modern bridges use reinforced concrete material to build bridges that are lighter and safer. However, this fact makes Solkan Bridge unique and attractive.

It was built in the years of the Austrian Secession, the movement related to Art Nouveau. This was represented in the appearance of the bridge as well. That one we can observe today is the second variant. The first one had been being built between 1900 and 1905. On July 19, 1906, the railroad was opened, and the Austrian archduke, Franz Ferdinand, traveled himself across the bridge.

Solkan Bridge was designed by two people, the architect Rudolf Jaussner and the engineer Leopold Oerley. In the beginning, they constructed an 80-meter (260 ft) stone arch. The bridge was built by the Austrian construction company from Vienna, Brüder Redlich und Berger in two years. During the works, they had to change it a little bit because the soil here happened to be too soft. Thus, they spread the arch to today’s 85 meters (279 ft).

The interesting fact – Solkan Bridge consists of 4,533 stone blocks.

Very unfortunately, during World War I, the night from 8 to 9 August 1916, the Austrian army had to blow it up in order not to let the Italian army use it after them. This happened during the Sixth Battle at the Soča Front, the explosion was done using 930 kilograms of Ecrasite.

When the war ended, after the Treaty of Rapallo, the territory happened to be under Italian control. They temporarily used steel construction for the railroad. However, in April 1925, the reconstruction of the first bridge began and was finished in two years, in 1927.

The bridge was identical to the previous one, only with one exception. Italian engineers decided to use only four sub-arches instead of the original five ones.

Of course, they didn’t expect World War II to come next. The second time was luckier in terms of bridge safety. It suffered only minimal damage. To be more precise, on August 10, 1944, during the attack on Yugoslavia, bombs did not hit the bridge. However, the next year, during the last months of the war, on March 15, 1945, one bomb hit the bridge. Luckily enough, the detonation did not happen, so the bridge left undamaged.

After 1985, the Solkan Bridge was considered a technical monument, so now it is protected by law. After gaining independence of Slovenia in 1991, the Slovenian Railways took its management.

Solkan Village

The story of the bridge is closely related to the people who lived in the settlement near it. Before the coming of Slovenes at the end of the 16th century, the population here was predominantly rural Venetians.

By 1910, the last Austrian census of that year showed that the settlement included 3075 inhabitants, of whom 90.3% were Slovenian people. During World War I, it happened to be the place of dramatic events. As this was a border town, it became the first frontier of the front. When it became a part of Italy, the Slovene population suffered from Fascist Italianization.

This led to the creation of one of the first centers of Partisan resistance in Slovenian territories during World War II. In 1947 the village was annexed to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. As Gorizia left in Italy, Slovenians created a new town, Nova Gorica, that became the biggest city in the region.

This is one of the unique places of Slovenia because you can literally feel the mix of Slovenian and Italian cultures. Its cuisine, language, customs, and traditions are strongly influenced by the neighboring Italian region of Friuli. Even the dialect here is unique. The citizens of the settlement use a variant of the Karst dialect of the Slovenian language that became beloved among Slovenians because of the well-known Slovenian singer-songwriter, Iztok Mlakar, uses it in the lyrics of his songs.

Thus, it is the perfect possibility to experience the “alternative” Slovenia. Moreover, you should take into consideration the close location of the Soča River, the hidden gem of the country, the place where you will see the picturesque emerald green river, and can try fly-fishing, rafting, zip-lining, paragliding, rope jumping, and canyoning.

Soča River

The Soča River is one of the most beautiful natural tourist attractions of Slovenia. The unique color is a very rare phenomenon for such a long river to be emerald green throughout its length. In general, it is 138-kilometer (86 mi) long, whereas 96 kilometers (60 mi) flows in western Slovenia and 43 kilometers (27 mi) through northeastern Italy, where it is named Isonzo in the Italian language.

The river starts at the height of 876 meters and crosses such Slovenian cities and villages as Bovec, Kobarid, Tolmin, Kanal ob Soči, Nova Gorica, and after that, falls into the Adriatic Sea. It is well-known for the variety of unique trout species Salmo marmoratus, the best known are the marble trout.

Furthermore, it is the place of Simon Gregorčič to dedicate his famous poem Soči (To Soča). It became a scene of 12 battles between the Kingdom of Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Also, the river the place of filming Disney’s movie of 2008 on the famous novel, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.

Soča River as well as its valley is the first destination in Slovenia to achieve the European Destination of Excellence (EDEN) award. This one is given only to places with the sustainable development of tourism. Therefore, this place has a lot to show.

Let’s Have a Ride?

Slovenia is a place of wonders. One of them is the Solkan Bridge. This place gathered a large number of interesting things, including the bridge itself, its history, the river under it, the Solkan village, and of course, Its cuisine, language, customs, and traditions. I should say this is quite a lot to see and experience.

First of all, the bridge is not only the longest railroad arch stone one in the world but maybe one of the last ones of its origin. As the technology of bridge building changed, this became a unique phenomenon. Moreover, it survived World War I and World War II. This is an incredible phenomenon because even the last bomb hitting it had not exploded.

Now, it is a picturesque attraction for both locals and tourists. Furthermore, down there, it flows the famous Soča River, with its unique color that gathers photographers, painters, even musicians who search their muse here as well as other artists to get inspired by the incredible power of wild nature and flabbergasting landscapes.

If you are still looking for places to visit in Slovenia, this can be a real hidden gem you were looking for. If not, so this can become your “first date” with Slovenia. 

Thank you for reading our article. We do our best to provide you with first-hand information about Slovenia and its wonders. We know we are not infallible though. In case you encounter any mistakes in our articles or you have any suggestions, please contact us. Let us know how we could improve. It will help us to keep our information updated and deliver to readers the most valuable possible content.  We will gladly take your suggestions!

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