God's Bridge

Ponoarele is a commune located in Mehedinţi County, Oltenia, Romania. Here is a natural monument named God's Bridge, a natural bridge formed when the ceiling of a cave had collapsed. The bridge is actually a 4 m thick rock arch, with an opening of 25 m and a length of 50 m. The natural vault has an amazing resemblance with the ancient Roman bridges, and this 13 m wide arch supports a natural road 6 m wide (the road extension Ponoarele-Izverna), which is used by cars and heavy vehicles. Such natural bridges exist in the U.S. (88.4 m high, 10 m wide) and France (l'Ardech), but God's Bridge is the only circulated. The bridge is between two karstic lakes, Zătonul Mare and Zătonul Mic.

Several legends tell about the apparition of the bridge. "It is said that the Devil lived in Ponoarele Cave. The locals asked God to chase him, and God hit with His palm the cave ceiling, which collapsed and blocked the cave's entrance. But the Devil escaped by the other mouth of the cave and climbed the Devil's Rock, place from where he guard the people who enter in the cave and sometimes he drowns them in the Zătonul Mare lake".

Another legend: "It is said that Saint Nicodim had a dream about a waterfall near he had to build a monastery. One day, in 1370, he arrived in Ponoarele, searching the place he dreamed about, but two rich families made him leave; they put a chicken and a knife in his bag, then accused him of theft. Ashamed, he departed, but before he cursed the locals. God traced an arch with His finger over a ravine, building a bridge for Saint Nicodim who followed his destiny and built the wonderful Tismana Monastery".

It seems that God protects the ones who pass over His bridge: in the past years, several bikes, cars and trucks fell off the bridge (25 meters!), but the drivers escaped with minor injuries!

Photos from Panoramio, Wikipedia, TrekEarth.