Visit to Villanueva de la Reina bridge, Jaen (2009)
In 2007, when the Regional Government of Andalusia commissioned a project to improve a district road in north-west Jaen, the A6075, between Villanueva de la Reina and the A-4, the old concrete bridge there over the Guadalquivir was something of a problem.
It was a concrete bridge with an uncommon structure and its pillars were founded in ancient stone foundations, possibly of Roman origin. Was the bridge of sufficient historic value to be preserved?
The historic study had unexpected results. The foundations were not Roman, but the remains of a first attempt to build a bridge on the same site in 1603; what was of incalculable historic value was the armoured concrete structure built on those remains in 1928.
Thanks to the collaboration of one of our country’s greatest authorities on armoured concrete bridges, Ramón del Cuvillo, in the historic interpretation of the Villanueva de la Reina bridge, we now know that the structure is exceptional testimony (given its rarity and good condition) of the switch from iron to armoured concrete constructions.
With this visit, Ramón del Cuvillo teaches us to look at a bridge. He teaches us to appreciate what we can see (the use of the materials, the reasons for the composition) and what we cannot see (the foundations, the designers’ doubts, the failures, the effort required to complete such a project).