The images break one’s heart. For 111 years the bridge of Keritis was standing over Alkianos River. The emblematic construction surrendered to the force of nature and the human negligence and suffered irreparable damage.
It broke down into pieces on February 25, 2019 when a disastrous weather front struck the Chania Prefecture on the island of Crete with record volumes of rainwater.
The Keritis Bridge project was auctioned on 20. November 1907, for a budget of 45,000 Drachmas. The project was one of the “many modernization works on Crete” after the end of the Ottoman occupation on the island.
On 7. May 2011 the main construction was finished opening the way for “the constructions of shields, coronets and kennels.”
The bridges impressed with three arches and a length of 90 meters. The construction of its external surfaces was particularly diligent and strong, made of hardened porous stone and with the technique of pugniato (creation of large joints between the stones), which has its origins in the years of late Venetian domination, writes Chrysoula Tzompanaki in her book “the Architecture of Keritis Bridge.”
To achieve large openings and at the same time to avoid excessive height, engineers used the so-called “lowered arc”, which is smaller than a semicircle. This of course presupposes, according to Venetian architects, strong pedestals and good “loading” on the upper surface.
Archaeologist Michalis Andrianakis remarks on the damaged bridge:
“From the photos after the disaster it appears that the load between the outer walls was not solid, but from stones and dirt. Perhaps this was one of the reasons for the collapse, but it is up to experts to talk about it.”
At a panel of state broadcaster ERT on Saturday, experts said that it was certainly bad maintenance but also the fact that the bridge had more traffic than it could withstand.
Keritis Bridge was included in the permanent catalogue of the declared archaeological sites and monuments of Greece as New Monument, with a decision of 2009.
It should be noted that on 1. August 1941, Germans gathered 118 civilians from Alikianos and surrounding villages at the Keritis Bridge and shot them after forcing them to dig their own graves.
The Greek Culture Ministry has announced it plans to restore the bridge according to the same procedures as it did in Plakas Bridge in Epirus.
According to local media, the Infrastructure Ministry plans to construct a new bridge nearby to re-connect the areas.