The Legend of the Pont du Diable – Céret

The Devil’s Bridge

Many bridges built in medieval Europe were named “the Devil’s Bridge” as they were often amazing feats of architecture, built by hand with skills considered beyond human capabilities. Le Pont du Diable in Céret, a 14th-century bridge with a 46-metre span, at the time of its construction the world’s largest bridge arch, has its own story attached.

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In the fourteenth century, the two banks of the River Tech were joined by a wooden bridge which was regularly washed away by the wind and rain.

The people of Céret decided to build a more solid bridge out of stone, but the engineers insisted that the banks were too steep, and no-one would take on the contract.

 

 

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One of these engineers, attracted by the large sum of money proposed by the Cérétans, finally accepted  to carry out the job. Unfortunately, his first attempt was destroyed by a storm and the people of Céret were obliged to pay more money for him to start again.

The second time, just as the construction was nearing its end, the scaffolding gave way during a storm, and the bridge broke up again. The angry Cérétans finally gave him a deadline, after which he would be hanged for taking the money and not completing the work!

A rather good incentive to succeed!

So he set to work. The night before the fatal deadline, heavy clouds and a cold and violent wind heralded the approach of a severe storm which carried the bridge away once again! The engineer fled to the mountains. where he met a stranger who promised him that he could save his neck by rebuilding the bridge in time for the deadline.

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“And how is that possible?” asked our desperate engineer

“Never mind that” replied the stranger. “Just leave it to me. This evening, at midnight, the bridge will be standing again. The condition? All I ask is that you give me the first living being to cross the bridge.”

The engineer shivered. How was it possible to rebuild the bridge in a few hours? Something wasn’t quite right here! Surely only the devil was capable of that!

However, he agreed as he certainly did not wish to hang!

The stranger then disappeared in a puff of sulphur filled air! Hmmmmm, very suspicious!

Realising the gravity of his act, the engineer returned home thoughtfully. What was he to do?

That night, he arrived at the bridge on the stroke of midnight, just as the devil was about to place the last stone, and sent a black cat across the bridge. Surprised, the devil dropped the stone, leaving the bridge unfinished as he followed the cat as far as Le Boulou to claim its soul, and to this day, the bridge remains unfinished. No one has been able to replace that one last stone.

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