Cover photo full
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrIn contrary to what its name may suggest, Pont Neuf, ‘New Bridge’ in English, is the oldest bridge spanning the River Seine in Paris. Officially opened in 1607, the name was given at the time to separate it from other bridges across the river. The older bridges were typically lined with houses on both sides. Pont Neuf is located at the western tip of the Île de la Cité, a famous island in the middle of the river, and in the heart of the city, that used to be the center of medieval Paris.
Pont Neuf is, together with Pont Alexandre III, the most famous bridge in Paris and definitely one of the most beautiful.
HistoryIn the middle of the 16th century, two bridges crossed the River Seine. They were, however, overcrowded and King Henry II was asked to build a new bridge. He decided against it because of financial reasons. Several years later, in 1577, King Henry III finally did make the decision to construct a new bridge. He laid the founding stone in 1578; the foundations and one abutment were completed later that year. A design change in 1579 required the bridge to be widened so that houses could be built. Between 1588 and 1599, construction was halted due to the Wars of Religion. The bridge was finally finished and inaugurated by King Henry IV in 1607. He also named the bridge Pont Neuf.
The bridge was built as a series of short arches, a typical style of that period in time. Pont Neuf was Paris’ first stone bridge across the River Seine without any buildings. It was a major thoroughfare and had paved pedestrian sidewalks. It was Henry IV who made sure that there weren't any buildings on the bridge for they would block the view of The Louvre. The Louvre was his palace and a building that he expanded greatly during his reign.
A large equestrian statue of King Henry IV stands at the point where Pont Neuf crosses the Île de la Cité. It was erected in 1618 after the king’s death and is still one of the landmarks of the bridge. The statue was destroyed during the French Revolution, but replaced with a replica in 1818.
In the 18th century, the Pont Neuf had become the center of life in Paris. It was both a hub for commerce and crime. In the 1840s, the equestrian statue of King Henry IV on Pont Neuf was the subject of one of the very first photographs ever taken.
ArchitecturePont Neuf is 761-feet-long and 72-feet-wide and was a modern bridge at the time of construction. It had several new innovations, such as pavements, bastions, and the lack of houses.
The bridge consists of two different bridge spans, one on every side of the Île de la Cité. The Place de Pont Neuf on the island is where the two spans are connected. Pont Neuf has twelve arches; seven arches connect the island to the right bank, while five arches extend between the left bank and the island.
Visiting Pont NeufThe Pont Neuf isn't the lively place it used to be anymore, though it still is a major landmark in Paris. The tip of Île de la Cité, where the bridge crosses the island, is now the location of the Square du Vert-Galant, ‘Square of the Green Galant’, which was the nickname of King Henry IV. The stone-face embankments offer magnificent views of the River Seine, other bridges and the grand buildings that line the river.
Located on the island where Paris originated, there are several historic sites within close proximity. Other highlights are the Sainte-Chapelle, Place Dauphine ; the Conciergerie which is the oldest palace of the Kings of France, the island itself; and Notre-Dame de Paris. A fun thing to do is just walking around the island across the bridge. Additionally, you could also go on a river cruise to see everything from a different perspective.
How to Get ThereThe Pont Neuf is easily accessed by subway. The nearest subways stations are Cité on the M4 line and Pont Neuf on the M7 line. The bridge lies in the heart of the city and if you’re already there, it can be reached by walking along the River Seine and past many other landmark buildings.
Similar and Nearby LandmarksOther renowned landmarks are central Paris are the Eiffel Tower, the Tuileries Garden; the Champs-Elysées, Musée d’Orsay; the Arc de Triomphe, Place de la Concorde; and Centre Georges Pompidou. There are several other bridges across the river, most notably the Pont Alexandre III, Pont de la Concorde, and Pont des Invalides.
Famous bridges across the world include the Charles Bridge, Stari Most; the Brooklyn Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge; the Tower Bridge, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Do you see any omissions, errors or want to add information to this page? Sign up.
Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Dec 22, 2014