The legend of Devil's Bridge

The legend of devil's bridge!

/*The theme of the Devil offering himself to build a bridge in one night in exchange for the soul of the victim is a present theme in the Catalan linguistic and cultural area, since there are at least twenty-seven versions of it in the oral tradition. It is important to say that it also has a remarkable presence in folk narrative and is widespread internationally. The analysis of the versions allow us to classify the stories in four groups: satanic legend, explanatory tradition, swindler’s novella and religious tale. Now, we are going to explain a version for each of them: Satanic legend We are going to describe “El pont major de Girona” (in Catalan) translated as “The oldest bridge of Girona” in English.

The legend explains that in Girona, the north of Catalonia, there was a poor girl who worked as a house maid, exhausted of crossing the river “Ter” every day to give food to the workers. She said one day that she would give her soul in exchange if the devil would build her a bridge. Then the devil appeared and told her that he will build to her a bridge but she never will cross it. The poor girl was afraid. There were three cockerels in the house. One of them was black and bad, on the dark side. Before midnight the mistress wet the cockerels with lukewarm and the black one crowed. The demons couldn’t take the girl away, but she died of fright. The credibility of that tale is considered to be a characteristic feature of legend, which indicates that the story should be classified as a legend. It is also important the numinous nature of the story, since Satan and the devils personify the negative forces of numinous power, and they exercise this power against humans. The tale warns us about the danger of having deals with the Devil. The explanatory tradition On Sallent, a village near to Santa Pau, on the middle of a “pla” there is a very hight rock. People say the devil wanted to do a bridge before 12:00 of the night, before the cocks sang, because in by this way he will obtain the soul of a man who made a deal with him. But the cocks sang before the midnight, so, the devil had to stop the working, only a rock was missing for the bridge’s construction. And that’s why this rock is called “the devil’s rock”.

The story is told in a descriptive style, without the active intervention of the characters and contains no other contextual data to interpret its meaning. The swindler’s novella The plot in most of the tales of this groups consists on the Devil undertaking to build a bridge in one night with the request of a mortal in exchange for the mortal’s soul, and the mortal managing to avoid fulfilling his or her part of the bargain. The story of “El pont del diable” (Abrera, Baix Llobregat) tells that a long time ago, Martorell’s people and the other’s way wanted to build a bridge in the river because they wanted to cross it. So, one day the devil showed himself saying that he will build it in return of the first soul that passed it. People agreed, and the demons in only one night built it. The next day the people took along a cat a cat, and the poor animal passed, so the demons had to get the cat’s soul. In this version there is no external information concerning the credibility factor. The narrative is humorous and has a positive ending for the human. The Devil is tricked. The fact that the human represent the intelligence and the Devil the stupidity allows the story to fit in the groups of “Tales of the Stupid Ogre (giant, Devil)”. The religious (pious) tale One time there was girl very devoted to th Virgin Mary, who took care of some lilies to take them to a figure of Our Lady. One evening, someone called at the door, it was a gentleman who asked for accommodation. They had dinner and when they finished the girl’s father started to pray, but when the man listened that, asked about his bedroom because he wanted to sleep. Then at 12:00 of night, the girl realized about a hairy black hand that was coming down on her window, so, the girl jumped and she couldn’t sleep on that night because of thinking about that hand. The next day she wanted to cross the river to see her fiancée, who had to go off to the war next day. The gentleman said that if she gave him her soul, he would build her a bridge over the river before twelve so that she could say goodbye to her fiancée. She agreed but afterwards regretted her decision, so she begged to the Virgin forgiveness for having given her soul and begging that the bridge not be finished by twelve. The demons started to build the bridge but there was still one stone left to lay by twelve. Then the Virgin Mary appeared, took the girl and carried her to the other side of the river and stopped the fiancé from having to go to war. They got married and lived happily ever after. This story combines characteristics of legends and folktales. It appears the satanic fear and the holy devotion. Finally, the holy power wins. We could consider it as a holy legend. The most important it is its educational function, so we can conclude that it is a religious folk tale. CONCLUSION We can say that the Devil is seen more as a character of folk tales that can be beaten by humans rather than an evil character to be feared.

*/In order to find information about the legend of Devil's Bridge we have used Google Scholar.In the following link there is by Carme ORIOL from the University Rovira i Virgili Article here.

According to Dr Oriol there are 27 versions of the legend just in Catalonia.

The topic of the Devil building a bridge in just one night in exchange for the soul of a victim is very common in the folk narrative both in Europe and outside Europe.

The genre is between legend and folktale.

Here's how you can see examples of images from Devil Bridges around the world, or written documents:

Image from a Engish traditional tale
Image from a Engish traditional tale
Image from a Engish traditional tale
Image from a Engish traditional tale
Image from a Engish traditional tale
Image from a Engish traditional tale
Image from a Engish traditional tale
Image from a Engish traditional tale
Image from a Engish traditional tale
Image from a Engish traditional tale
I will explain:
  • 1. History
  • 2. The myth
  • 3. Where is this town currently located
  • 4. Photos
  • History

    Of Roman origin, it was part of the Via Augusta, being built around 10 b.C. to be traveled by bullock carts, with a length of 130 meters, with a wide and practically horizontal road, as can be seen at the ends , and with a pile in the middle of the river bed.

    From the Roman times the abutments of the bridge are preserved, made with large ashlars, with inscriptions of the legions that worked (legions X Gemina, IV Macedonica and VI Victrix), and an honorific triumphal arch on the left bank, probably from the second century. Until the 14th century it was the only bridge in the "Baix Llobregat, España".

    The bridge was destroyed by the river, which carried away the central pier, being documented a reconstruction in 1143. Later it was rebuilt as a Gothic bridge with a single arch, work begun in 1283 and finished around 1295, under the direction of Bernat Sellés, with two pointed arches, the largest 21 meters high and 43 wide, to avoid the effect of floods. The new profile and the smaller width were no longer suitable for road traffic, but they were suitable for transporting pack animals, much more used in the Middle Ages.

    It was restored in 1768 by the military engineer Juan Martín Cermeño. In January 1939, the central arch was destroyed by the retreating People's Army of the Republic, being rebuilt in 1963, maintaining the Gothic structure of the 1283 reform.

    The myth

    The legend of this bridge tells the story of an old woman who had to cross the river every day to fetch water from the source on the other shore. She was already very old and was not up to those trots. Jumping from stone to stone, getting his feet wet had already brought him more than one displeasure.

    One morning, when he was along the shore, about to cross the river, the Devil appeared to him, who was a very careful businessman.

    "What are you doing crossing the river in this way?! With my great power, I will make you never have to cross it again!"

    -How? –Asked the surprised old woman.

    "Give me one night, and I will build you the most beautiful bridge you have ever seen."

    -Insurance? She asked.

    "Do you doubt my word?" –Answered the Devil– And it won't cost you a real. I am satisfied with keeping the soul of the first to cross the bridge.

    The old woman, tired of having to cross the river every day, accepted the deal.

    The devil was working all night and when the first rays of the sun appeared behind the Telegraph Tower the great bridge was finished.

    The Devil, hidden behind the arch of the bridge, on the other shore, waited for the old woman to arrive, so that she would pass the bridge in search of water and thus be able to keep her soul. But things did not turn out as he expected.

    When the old woman reached the bridge, she took the apron out of the basket that was hanging from her arm. From inside the basket came out a black cat like coal, that startled began to run up the bridge.

    And that's how it is, as from that day on, the old woman and everyone else can cross the bridge without fear while the Devil looks at us, helplessly, next to the soul of a cat.

    Where is this town currently located?

    This happens in Martorell, a town that is 30 km from Barcelona in Spain


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