De Bosset Bridge in Kefalonia
The De Bosset Bridge in Argostoli Kefalonia: The De Bosset Bridge or the De Bosset Causeway is the largest stone bridge on a seawater body and has been in existence since 1813 when the Swiss engineer Charles Philippe De Bosset was employed by the British Army. Thanks to his contribution in the form of study and construction of the bridge, Monsieur de Bosset was appointed as Governor of Kefalonia from 1810-1814 by the British who reigned the Ionian Islands from 1809-1864.
The town of Argostoli on the narrow Fanari peninsula projecting out from Argostoli Gulf was the nerve center for all trade and commerce activities for the villagers in the island. But the inlet separated Argostoli from mainland Kefalonia unless you are traveling south and therefore, made it compulsory to travel around the perimeter of the 5 km long inlet.
The British governors saw a strong local opposition when they drew plans to link the two sides of the inlet at its narrowest part by building a wooden bridge from the southern harbor side of Argostoli to Drapano, a small village 950 meters across the water. The to-be-solved transportation problems of the villagers allayed their fears about possible invasions and the De Bosset Bridge was completed in two weeks. The little strength of the bridge called for its remodeling in the year 1842. Baron Everton gave the bridge a new appearance and rebuilt it with stone using materials from the Metela hill.
As you pass the bridge upon arrival in the island's capital, a four-faced symmetrical obelisk made up of carved rocks rises from the sea. This monument called Kolona existed since 1813 and was the Kefalonian Parliament's symbol of gratitude to Great Britain. The obelisk had a plaque in four languages: Greek, English, Italian, and Latin with the inscription To the glory of the British Empire, which was mysteriously stricken in 1865, when the Greeks regained control of the island. Since then, the inscription changed according to the different ruling periods. There used to exist a small walkway connecting the obelisk to the bridge but now it has disappeared.
The disastrous earthquake of 1953 injured one-third of the bridge on Argostoli side. The bridge and the obelisk survived the earthquake, but like the whole city, it required major restoration using modern concrete building methods. The bridge remained the boundary between the sea and Koutavos lagoon and periodically, several arches were added on the side of the bridge of Argostoli to impart additional strength to the bridge.
Koutavos lagoon, created as result of the bridge, has become a breeding site for the Loggerhead turtles that favor the south end of the lagoon. The salt marshes and the shallow water have made the site a sanctuary for aquatic birds thriving on the resources available. Further across the north end of the bridge, about 200 meters along the road to Dilinata the British cemetery of Kefalonia can be found, where over two hundred British Servicemen rest as well as their wives, children and a handful of civilians that had served Kefalonia as British servicemen or have called the place home.
Increased advancements of technology and its easy availability had effects on the local traffic that comprehensively weakened the bridge to such an extent that it was closed in 2004 to all vehicles for extensive repair works. The bridge was back in service in 2005, but with a few changes like a 2-tonne weight limit imposed upon cars and motorbikes and also, making the bridge a one-way route. So, you will have to drive around the lagoon at least once unless you are heading south.
Plans to allow only pedestrian use of the bridge have been on the table for some time now to make the walk a little less stressful, but no matter what the decision is, the bridge still offers an excellent stroll preferably early in the evening.