Ponte dell' Ammiraglio
(Admiral's Bridge)

First half of the 12th century (1125–1135)

    Built at the behest of Roger II’s grand admiral, Giorgio d’Antiocha (see also S. Maria dell’Ammiraglio), this bridge testifies to the considerable professional skills of the Arab and Norman engineers, who could also draw on Byzantine experience in bridge-building. In this and other similar engineering works, where formal architectural requirements were not a major consideration (see notes on use of pointed arches for churches and palace reception rooms), they adopted extremely pointed arches, which are more suitable for bearing heavy stresses and strains. By inserting smaller arches between the main ones, they also managed to lighten the structure, save on building materials and lessen the pressure of the river waters on the bridge structure. This all points to the fact that the Siculo-Norman engineers had a profound, albeit empirical, knowledge of statics and hydraulics, as well as advanced planning skills. The photographs show the bridge as a whole and some structural details. Note the way the different planes are inclined to achieve greater overall strength.

Vittorio Noto

Largely unpublished

Melo Minnella, Palermo