Khudaferin Bridges, Azerbaijan
The remains of Khudaferin Bridges between villages of Kumlakh and Khudaferin connect the northern and southern banks of the river Araks. They are outstanding monuments of architecture and samples of construction hi-tech. Historians believe that they were constructed in the 12th - 13th centuries.
The first bridge (12th century) was built during the epoch of Eldegizids and incorporated fifteen spans. This bridge was erected from river stones and square burnt bricks. As bridge foundations (in both structures) natural spurs of granite rocks were used. That is why the bridges are so well preserved. the length of the bridge is 200 meters, its width is 4.5 meters. The highest point of the bridge reaches 10 meters above the water. Ancient historians said that the 15-span bridge had been made in the 7th century during the intrusion of Arabs into Azerbaijan. But modern scientists think that the bridge was constructed much later.
Today 15-span bridge is in working order. But it has been restored several times because of serious damages. Its last big destruction is dated 18th century.
The second bridge consisted of eleven spans and was built (restored) during the epoch of Ilkhanids (13th century). The overall length of this bridge reached 30 m, its width - 6 m, and the maximum height was 12 m above the water. The outline of the lateral arches is almost semicircular. The bridge is reveted with well - dressed blocks of limestone. The smaller bridge is located approximately 800 meters to the west of the 15-span bridge. The smaller bridge was restored when the 15-span one was working. For what reason? Scientists relate it to the massive movements of people during that period. The matter is that military actions of Ilkhanids versus the Golden Hordes took place on the territory of Azerbaijan and consequently there was a need for numerous armies transition to the north.
The smaller Khudaferin bridge is practically destroyed; only 3 middle spans have survived. That is why the people named it "synyg kyorpju" ("the broken bridge"). But even in the destroyed condition it makes grandiose impression.
Khudaferin Bridges were one of the basic points of the Great Silk Way and were great international significance. These bridges served as the main routes for migration of various armies and nations.
The constructive system of both bridges is traditional for the architecture of the Middle Ages - the curvilinear arches of the spans rest on heavy breakwaters and strong foundations. This reliable system sustained masses of people, cavalry and caravans.
Except for their steady design Khudaferin Bridges are attractive in their artistic-aesthetic expressiveness. The architects' skill has transformed this residential structure into monumental architectural product.