The old bridge of Areco is one of the most picturesque icons in town. It has quite a singular history and rumor has it that tolls started there.
Ricardo Güiraldes already referred to this beautiful and picturesque bridge in his novel Don Segundo Sombra: “In the outskirts of town, about ten blocks away from the central square, the river is spanned with the arch of the old bridge, joining the villas with the quiet countryside”.
This text, published in 1926, describes a situation very close to what visitors may find today when looking at the river. The only difference is that the old bridge looks beautiful now. It is painted in bright pink and its silhouette is reflected on the waters of the faithful Areco River, where, just like a hundred years ago, the horses stop to drink water and the gauchos, to rest if the journey is long.
Shoulders to the Wheel
The bridge was built in 1857 and, according to anecdotes from those days, a fee was charged to all those who wished to cross. The truth is that the most picturesque and best-known characters of those days went over the bridge until it began to deteriorate and was closed because it became unsafe.
But in 1999, the authorities of San Antonio de Areco
began to think about restoring the bridge so that it may be used both by locals and visitors to the city. The idea was finally conceived and the bridge was declared National Historical Monument. Ever since that acknowledgment, authorities and neighbors began the hard task of getting the funds to support the works.
The CEOs of Techint, a company specialized in road works, were in charge of financing the project as well as of the technical support and the restoration, which had to be performed on the entire structure.
A monolith commemorates this event and in the name of the community of Areco, it recognizes the effort and perseverance of those who have made it possible. Today, the bridge has become one of the tourist attractions in town once again.
Time to Enjoy
On the other side of the river, or on this side, there lies the stone that pays tribute to writer Ricardo Güiraldes and which shows the way to the Museum and Criollo Park bearing the same name. But beyond what lies on its banks, the bridge itself is an attraction and manages to catch the eye of all those who walk along the local waterfront promenade.
The river is crossed by groups of hikers, bikers and riders and the feeling of getting on the bridge and watching the waters from above is unique.
There are some who have set the tradition of throwing coins from the bridge into the river as they make a wish. Therefore, several young and not-so-young couples sacrifice some money to make their dreams come true.
On summer nights and nights with a full moon, it is a meeting point for several generations. The youngest gather there before going dancing or to have a drink. The elder continue to look at the river with the same eyes and dreams they have always had.