The use of wrought iron has propelled humans throughout history. Whether it be used for historic structures, decorative signs, or railways, wrought iron has shaped and been shaped to create our civilization as we know it.
What is wrought iron?
Wrought iron is iron that has been heated and worked with a hammer or rolling machine. It can be heated, worked, and re-heated and re-worked — growing stronger each time. The word “wrought” derives from the word “work.”
Wrought iron has been used as early as 2000 BC in Anatolia (Turkey), and is the. “iron” referenced in Western history. It was most popular in the 1800s in construction — the Eiffel Tower, built in 1889, is made from a form of wrought iron. In the 1900s it was largely replaced by steel, but many older structures with wrought iron beams, gates, and décor can still be found.
Here are five examples of amazing wrought iron work (not including the Eiffel Tower):
- This bookstore signage, depicting the first Lithuanian book, is incredibly intricate. Signage such as this were often created with artistic designs, especially in the 16th and 17th century where such elaborate wrought iron signs were the prevailing fashion. These beautifully shaped emblems were often gilded to provide a recognizable silhouette against the sky for the largely illiterate public at the time.
2. The stairs, elevator shaft, and railings in the Elevador de Santa Justa Lift each follow a unique pattern. The industrial-age wrought iron marvel was completed in 1902 and designed by Raul Mesnier de Ponsard, a student of the great Gustave Eiffel, known for his famous Eiffel Tower (also made of wrought iron). With Neo-Gothic iron arches, the Elevador de Santa Justa continues to transport passengers to the ruins of the Igreja do Carmo church.
3. The Iron Pillar of Delhi is a testament to the fortitude of wrought iron. Built more than 1,600 years ago for a king, thought to be Gupta King Candragupta II, this nearly 24-foot-long pillar weighs more than six tons. The greatest aspect about the Iron Pillar of Delhi lies in its condition, rather than composition. Despite its age, the pillar shows few signs of corrosion, due to the rust-resistant composition used in its creation. It remains as a testament to the ancient Indian iron smiths’ mastery in the extraction and processing of iron.
4. A fence doesn’t have to be just a fence. Ornamental iron fences offer a fanciful design as well as security. Such wrought iron fences were immensely popular in the late 1800s, with durable wrought iron being more secure than its wooden alternatives, and easily produced. The fence pictured below is located near Skalka, a burial place for notable Poles in Krakow.
5. These wrought iron gates, marking the main entrance to the Belvedere Museum in Vienna, Austria, are majestic — appropriate for the one-time summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy. The elaborate gates separate the outside world from the Belvedere’s Baroque palaces and buildings, as well as many decorative fountains, sculptures, and wrought iron gates.