In 1812, plans were drawn up by the then British governors of Kefalonia to build a bridge or linking the two sides of the inlet at it’s narrowest part. At first this met with disaprovement from the local people, who saw it as an aid to invasion, but fears were put to rest and plans were drawn to build a wooden bridge from the southern harbourside in Argostoli to Drapano, a small village across the water, a distance of about 950m.
The job was overseen by a Monsieur de Bosset, a Swiss engineer who was contracted to the British Army. The bridge was built in a short space of time but retained little of its strength and was completely rebuilt using stone in 1842.
A stone obelisk was constructed about halfway across the water, although the inscriptions on it have changed over the years. In 1865, a year after British rule came to an end, the inscription that read “To the Glory of the British Empire” mysteriously disappeared overnight as Greece regained her territory. Several arches were added in later years on the Argostoli side of the bridge for additional strength. The obelisk still stands and is a famous landmark of the island and can be found on calendars, paintings, mugs and other touristy goods.
In 1953, the earthquake demolished a section of the bridge on the Argostoli side, and this had to be completely rebuilt using modern concrete building methods.
More recently, the arches, added in the late 19th century and rebuilt after 1953, have allowed the passage of Loggerhead turtles, which now like the quieter south end of the lagoon for breeding.
As traffic increased in the late 20th century, the bridge began to weaken so much that in 2004, it was closed to all vehicles for extensive repair. In 2006 the bridge was still closed. Pedestrians may still walk across, although once back in service, it will have a weight restriction, allowing only cars and motorbikes to cross.
The bridge is quite narrow and it was sometimes a little “hairy” when you see a lorry coming towards you, and being a local driver has no intention of slowing down!!