Thursday, June 6, 2013

Philatelic Photograph: Pont Neuf - Paris, France

Interesting Places I've Photographed
Pont Neuf
(New Bridge)
Paris, France
Topic: Philatelic Photographs

GPS: N48° 51.465; E002° 20.511

Quick Description: 

The Pont Neuf (New Bridge) spans the River Seine at the western tip of the medieval part of Paris, the Île de la Cité.

Long Description:

Ironically, the Pont Neuf (New Bridge) is the oldest bridge across the river Seine in Paris, France. The bridge is composed of two separate spans. Five arches join the left bank to the river island the Île de la Cité. Seven arches join the island to the right bank. The characteristic bastions between the arches give the bridge a fortified appearance. At one time the bridge merely skirted the tip of the island; but, the buildup of a sandbar on the downstream portion of the island has created a large parcel of land which is now a public park, the Square du Vert-Galant.

In 1577, King Henry III decided to construct a bridge across the Seine. The King laid the first stone in 1578 under the direction of Baptiste Androuet du Cerceau. In the same year the foundations of four piers and one abutment were completed. After a long delay, beginning in 1588, due in part to the Wars of Religion, construction was resumed in 1599. The bridge was opened on 20 June 1603, under the reign of Henry IV. The King christened it four years later, in 1607, with the name it bears today.

Over the years, the Pont Neuf has undergone a great deal of repair and renovation. From 1848 - 1855, the seven arches of the northern arm were modified by changing the arches from an nearly semi-circular to compound curve arches in order to reduce the slope of bridge. The roadway and sidewalks were lowered and faces of the piers, spandrels, cornices, and corbels were restored to their original appearance. A major restoration of the Pont Neuf was begun in 1994 and was completed in 2007, the year of its 400th anniversary.

The Pont Neuf has a total length of 238 meters and is 20 meters wide. The span of the arch is 15 to 19 meters on the larger arm and 10 to 16 meters on the small arm.

The stamp was issued by France on May 27, 1978 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the start of construction of the bridge. It depicts the north arm of the Pont Neuf looking upstream from the west with the Île de la Cité in the background. The engraving suggests the appearance of the bridge in the 16th century. The buildings of the Île de la Cité appear as they do today with one (artistic?) exception. La Conciergerie occupies the north bank of the island and the symmetrical buildings of the Place Dauphine at the tip of the island are easily recognize. However, on the stamp, the iconic Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris is prominent on the far east end of the island. However, from this vantage point on the right bank, the famous cathedral cannot be seen.

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