Historical masonry arch bridges are an integral part of our cultural heritage and deserve the attention and the efforts required to safeguard their patrimonial value. There is currently a diverse range of methods available to engineers for evaluating the load-bearing capacity of masonry arches. The major drawbacks are that these methods are either too conservative or computationally intensive. The study presented here proposes a model based on the theory of plasticity. The result is a transparent model that is both rapid and easy to use. Moreover, its application does not involve heavy computation tools. The model is validated by comparison with available experimental results and with the results of a widely-recognised analysis software. In order to take into account the material and structural behaviour of an arch in an optimal way, the present thesis provides a new integral model divided into three evaluation levels. At the micro-level, the response of masonry under pure compression is used to characterise the material of an arch. At this level, numerical models are used to describe the behaviour of natural-stone masonry. These models distinguish between the constitutive units and mortar as well as the unit – mortar interface. The shape and arrangement of the units have the most influential role in defining the failure mode in comparison to the properties of each constitutive material. At the meso-level, the material behaviour from the preceding level is used to define the limit for the local plastification of an arch section under combined compression and flexure. This phenomenon is described as the formation of a hinge. The resistance of an arch section can be expressed using the bending moment – normal force interaction diagram based on the stress-strain curve of the masonry material. Each point along the interaction diagram refers to a state of stress causing the local plastification of an arch section due to the formation of a hinge. The macro-level focuses on the structural analysis of a masonry arch – a structure with four degrees of indeterminacy. The arch failure corresponds to the successive formation of four hinges defined by the yielding condition determined at the meso-level. The analytical model developed in this study considers an arch at the state of being a statically determinate structure – after three of the four hinges are developed. Using the principle of equilibrium, the model calculates the load-bearing capacity of the arch at the ultimate limit state. A large number of existing natural-stone masonry arches include deficiencies accumulated throughout years of service without any regular maintenance. Three common types of deficiencies on these bridges are considered. The model is extended to take into account their effects on the load-bearing capacity of arches. Finally, the model developed in this study is incorporated into a global methodology for the examination of masonry arch bridges. This methodology implies two complementary approaches, which have to be applied parallel to one another. The first uses the developed model and gives a quantitative evaluation of structural security. The second includes a qualitative appreciation of the risk, based on the condition survey of the structure. This methodology allows an objective examination of the structure and recommendations for intervention measures.