The Pont Neuf is a very beautiful bridge, and as famously associated with the city as is Venice’s Bridge of Sighs. Every tourist wants to have their photo taken on this elegant span, with the rivers of the Seine making an impressive backdrop.
The bridge was constructed as the Middle Ages and Renaissance started transforming into the modern era, with Henry III giving the go-ahead in 1578, although it wasn’t completed until 1607. Henry IV opened it, and a statue of him astride a horse stood at its mid-point. During the Revolution, mobs tore it down as part of their mission to erase all things connected with the hated royalty. In 1818, after the Napoleonic adventure was safely over, a replica was placed on the same spot.
As well as being supremely attractive, the bridge is an engineering feat unique for its time, and incorporates a number of innovations. It was the first Parisian bridge with houses and sidewalks built in to its design, and became popular as a meeting place for the locals.
The Vert Gallant square in the Ile de la Cite connects the bridge’s two spans, and with its 12 arches the Pont Neuf literally bestrides the Old City and has become as synonymous with it as the cathedral of Notre Dame.
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