| The piers on the eastern side were built on firm
ground; those on the opposite side were built directly on the rock, and
the others were built on stilts. The piers were protected by triangular
spouts that could break the force of the water. Each pier forms an abutment,
so the arches could be built one after the other. They number twenty, and
each one is composed of four juxtaposed arches.
A defensive structure was added in 1358. To the west, on the second pile, there
is a 15th-century building called "la Tour du Roy" (the King's Tower).
An adjoining tower was used to house the bridge guards. Another tower at the
bend in the bridge once contained the chapel of Saint Nicolas, with a prison
below. To the east, the tower "devers l'Empire" (facing the Empire)
was protected by a drawbridge.
In the 16th century, the eastern arch was destroyed and replaced by three small
In the 18th century, the towers were destroyed, and decorative gates were built.
In the 19th century, the bridge, which was open to traffic, was redeveloped:
in 1861 it was widened by two meters to allow carts to pass, the piles were doubled,
and the spouts were redone.
In 1856, an arch was created for barges, but it was destroyed in August of 1944.
After World War II, the Rhône lost its title of "King of Rivers" that
Frédéric Mistral had given to it. Due to an increase in circulation,
however, this ancient communication route is once again regaining its importance.
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