Shahara Bridge

Shahara Bridge
By Bernard Gagnon (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Middle East · Shahara Bridge

Shahareh is located at the top the peaks of the magnificent Jabal Shahara, consists of several old stone houses and a cistern. The area is noted for its limestone arch bridge connecting two villages across a deep gorge. Shahara was once a stronghold for the Imams. This stimulated city could sustain itself for months on end in cases of isolation. The Shahara Bridge was constructed of limestone is located high up in the al-Ahnum mountains, named for al-Ahnum tribe, the indigenous inhabitants of these mountains in 17th century.

The Shahara Bridge built to fight against Turkish invaders. Many say that the local people can eliminate the bridge in few minutes in case of any imminent danger. It is a scary bridge and a popular tourist attraction. The local residents still cross it often as a part of their daily routine. The manufacturing genius of this bridge spans a sheer 300 foot deep canyon. It can be reached by climbing the many stepped slopes or, selecting the path of least resistance, by accompanying a local guide with you.

The architect of the footbridge is Salah al-Yaman who constructed the bridge at the order of a local leader, Al Usta Saleh. No one really knows exactly how the bridge was built especially at that time, but a few legends try to offer some explanations. One story goes that several bridges were built below the major bridge to help with the transfer of supplies up the rugged terrain. Remnants of the minor bridges are still present today. Another legend explains that al-Yaman is credited with building only ten meters of the bridge and the remaining ten meters were believed to have been completed by an unknown person from the adjacent mountain. It is widely known however that the bridge took over three years to construct and cost around 100,000 French Riyals, an enormous amount of money at the time.

The incredible sight of the bridge surrounded by mountain ranges is as high up as the clouds. It is no wonder that its architect became disillusioned and lost his mind after the bridge was completed. Village elders have passed down the story through generations that Salah al-Yaman was simply unable to fathom the construction of such an elaborate bridge with only local supplies and traditional masonry tools. Viewing the bridge’s construction today one can certainly understand al-Yaman’s reaction to his masterpiece.