The Bridges of Halle (Saale) Germany

Berliner Brücke in Halle (Saale) Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/de/2/23/Berliner-Bruecke-Halle.jpg

Halle (Saale)- the birthplace of George Friedrich Handel. The second largest city in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt and representing the second half of the metropolis Leipzig-Halle, which has 100,000 of the metro’s 600,000 inhabitants as well as one of the most renowned universities in Germany. Yet when you get off the train in Halle, you may be turned off by the ugly high-rise buildings that date back to the days of the German Democratic Republic, a communist state that existed until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and German Reunification in 1990. Yet when you walk further towards the City Center, you will see another face of Halle that will sweep you off your feet: architecture dating to the Baroque Period, a statue of Handel overlooking the Cathedral and the Town Square, and further towards the Saale River, there’s the Giebichenstein Castle and the Halle Zoo, one of the largest zoos in the eastern half of Germany (Neuenbundesländer).

Surprisingly, if you are a pontist, you will be surprised to find that Halle has a wide selection of historic bridges that exist along the Saale River, its tributaries and to the south, the White Elster River, which meanders through Leipzig enroute to the Vogtland region in Thuringia and Saxony. There are 131 bridges in and around Halle; 14 of which are declared historically significant and protected by state preservation laws.  It is very rare to find historic bridges of at least four different types, or until recently have more than one cantilever truss spans, dating back to the 1880s. And in terms of German history, many of these bridges survived the test of time, including World War II, in contrast to the majority of cities and regions, whose bridges were severely damaged or destroyed through air raids and attempts by the Nazis to fend off advancing Allied troops. This plus the history that is still being sought on these bridges is what makes the bridges of the City of Salt unique.

This article will take you on a tour of the bridges that you should see, when spending a day in Halle. This includes a pair of bridges that no longer exist but are still part of the memories of the Hallenser people that still live there as well as those who were born there but have long since moved away for better possibilities. So without further ado, here is a small guide of the Bridges of Halle, keeping in mind that there are links available that will bring you to the photos and info on the bridge:

Schafbrücke: 

This bridge, built in 1733, is the last crossing along the White Elster before it empties into the Saale River in the Hallense suburb of Böllberg. It used to serve a main trading route between Merseberg and Magdeburg before it lost its importance because of the railroads. Today, the stone and concrete arch bridge serves the White Elster bike trail between Halle and Leipzig. Yet the bridge has seen its better days as the arches have deteriorated to a point where reconstruction is badly needed in order to avoid the structure to collapse.

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Halle-Neustadt Railroad Bridge:

Spanning the Saale River in the southwest end of Halle, this eight-span stone arch bridge is one of the longest of its kind in the city, as well as the oldest. Most likely dating back to the late 1800s, this bridge used to serve an InterCity train line connecting the city with Kassel and Cologne. Thanks to privatization, combined with the realignment of long-distance rail lines, the bridge now serves regional services to Sangerhausen, Halberstadt and Nordhausen, enroute to its original destination. The bridge is one of the hardest to reach for a photographer needs to fight trees, thorns and tall grass before reaching the east bank and the bridge itself.

ICE Saale-Elster Viaduct:  

With a total length of 8.5 kilometers plus two more for a branch to Halle, the ICE Saale-Elster Viaduct currently holds the title of being the longest railway viaduct in Germany. Completed in 2013, the viaduct features concrete box girder spans crossing the two rivers and swamp areas nearby but also features a steel through arch span that spans the branch that breaks off the main route to Halle. Although it passes the village of Schkopau (and with that a 1936 railroad truss bridge spanning the Saale just a kilometer south of the bridge), the viaduct is part of the ICE line connecting Erfurt and Leipzig, which since its opening in December 2015, has cut down the travel time by 60% to only 30 minutes between the two cities. The record will remain until 2017 when another viaduct located south of Erfurt will open, which will be longer than this one.

Rabeninselbrücke: 

This is the second youngest bridge in the city and the youngest to span the Saale. This bridge spans the Saale’s main river at the entrance to Rabeninsel (Raven’s Island) and features a cable-stayed bridge, whose pylon angles towards Böllberg Weg and the cables support the roadway. The roadway resembles a raindrop as it encircles the pylon. Built in 2000, the bridge measures 85 meters long and is 20 meters tall, easily seen from the main highway a kilometer away.

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Hafenbahnbrücke: 

A few months ago, the Chronicles did a segment on this mystery bridge, spanning the Saale River at the confluence of the Elisabeth Saale and Middle Saale Rivers, west of Böllberg Weg. This bridge was built in 1884 and used to serve a rail line connecting the city with Magdeburg (north) and Merseburg (south) for over 80 years. When the line was abandoned in the 1970s, the lenticular through truss span, measured at 40 meters in length, was rehabilitated and converted into a bike and pedestrian crossing, which still serves its function today. The bridge also has a dark side- and a memorial plaque is placed on the truss as a marker of this tragedy. In the night of 13-14 March, 1919, Karl Meseberg, who was a revolutionary leader during World War I, was murdered on the bridge with his body landing in the Saale. It was found five days later. While the bridge shows its bright side during the day, at dusk, one can feel the presence of a ghost at the bridge, keeping people away from the crossing. This may be in connection with this unfortunate event, but more info in the form of eyewitnesses and evidence is needed to confirm the claims of a ghost at the bridge.  If you look to the south of the bridge, you will find a blue tied-arch bridge about 100 meters away. That bridge was built in 2000 and carry water lines connecting the southern and western parts of the city.

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Genzmer Bridge: 

This steel through arch bridge is located over the Saale River at William Jost Strasse north of the Hafenbahnbrücke. Built in 1912, the grey-colored span is similar to the Hollernzollern Bridge in Cologne in terms of the design of the bridge, but the portal bracing resemble a bridge located west of Steinbrücke in neighboring Magdeburg. But when passing underneath the bridge, one will see the stone arched approach spans carrying the emblem of Halle on there- an impressive construction by the builder of the bridge, whoever it was.

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Mansfeld Bridge:

Spanning the Saale River at the Mansfelder Strasse, there are three crossings located within 60 meters of each other. The oldest span is a polygonal Warren pony truss with riveted connections that used to serve streetcar and vehicular traffic. Yet because of its structural obliqueness- too narrow and too light to support traffic- a vehicular crossing to the north was built in the early 1990s, which was followed by a separate streetcar crossing to the south a decade later. The truss span was later converted to pedestrian use by strenthening the trusses and adding a concrete and brick deck. An economic and interesting way to preserve a piece of history.

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Peissnitz Bridge:

Apart from the Hafenbahn, Giebichenstein, and Mühlentor Bridges, the Peissnitz Bridge is one of the crown jewels as far as Halle’s bridges are concerned. Spanning the Saale River at Peissnitz Island, carrying the street carrying the same name, the bridge is one of the most ornamental of bridges, for the 1898 structure features a cantilever Pratt truss design, with ornamental towers supporting street lights, and red quarry stone arch approach spans, presenting its grey and red colors which are typical colors of the city. When built in 1898, the bridge was the only toll bridge in the city, as money was collected for people wanting to cross the bridge and enter Peissnitz Island. This was discontinued in 1921 and the bridge has operated as a free bridge ever since. The bridge is 103 meters long, 70 meters of which represent the main span. Despite sustaining damage during World War II, it was rebuilt in 1946 and was eventually converted to a pedestrian and bike crossing, which remains that way to this day. The Peissnitz Bridge, located on the east end, is one of three bridges that provide access to the island, along with Schwanenbrücke and another bridge at the west end. The latter, built in the 1900s, was recently replaced with a steel truss bridge in 2013.

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Schwanenbrücke: 

Located at Weinberg at the northwest end of Peissnitz Island, this 1893 bridge is one of the oldest standing in Halle. The structure features a wire suspension span with eyebar connections found at the steel towers. Its roadway features a Town Lattice truss design railing which together with the suspenders, support the wooden decking. The bridge was destroyed during World War II but was later rebuilt in 1946. It was renovated in 1992, which includes dismantling, sandblasting and improving the steel parts, and reerecting the span on new abutments made of brick and concrete. The abutments feature the name Schwanenbrücke on there. The bridge is open to cyclists and pedestrians wishing to enter the island from the northwest. The bridge is next to the island park railway station, which provides service to places on the island.

Steinmühlenbrücke:  

Spanning the Mühlgraben at Peissnitzstrasse, this 1912 closed spandrel arch bridge has some unique features making a stop a necessity. Like the Pfälzer Bridge, the railings feature a Howe truss  in an Art Deco design, all in concrete. Two pairs of cast iron lanterns, encased in concrete, decorated with gargoyles, can be found on each end of the 20 meter long span, which provides the lone access to Peissnitz Island and park area to the west, let alone the Peissnitz Bridge itself. The bridge was named after a water mill, located nearby that was built in the late 1800s and was made of stone. That mill still exists today.

 Krollwitzer Brücke (aka Giebichensteinbrücke): 

This bridge and neighboring Giebichenstein Castle on the lime cliffs of the Saale River go together like bread and butter. The three-span concrete arch bridge is the fourth crossing at this site, being built in 1928 replacing a steel Parker through truss bridge, whose predecessors included a pontoon bridge, ferry and a covered bridge. The bridge is 261 meters long, 60 of which consist of the largest arch span. The bridge features two sculptures on the south side facing neighboring Peissnitz Bridge, resembling cattle- making the bridge a real treat to see. The bridge was renovated in 1995 and again in 2011, but continues to serve vehicular and street car traffic connecting the city center with the western suburb of Krollwitz.

 

Pfälzerbrücke:

Like the Peissnitz Bridge, the Pfälzer Bridge, spanning Mühlgraben-a tributary of the Saale- at Neuwerk in the northern end of the city, is the most ornamental bridge but in the form of an arch bridge. Art Deco art on the bridge’s railing and four lamp posts can be seen when crossing the 1912 span by car or bike. The railings resemble a Howe truss made of concrete, a rarity one can see these days.

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Burgbrücke: 

Located at the Robert Franz Ring, this Mühlengraben crossing is one of the newest bridges along this route. Little has been written about this bridge except for the fact that the steel deck arch span appears to date back to a time span between the 1990s, going back to the 1940s. In either case, the bridge’s lean appearance is attractive for many bridge photographers who enjoy a few minutes with the camera.

Berliner Brücke:

When leaving Halle (Saale) by train heading north, this bridge will be the last landmark to be seen on your way out. Today’s bridge, built in 2005, features a cable-stayed span that is 71 meters tall and 171 meters long, spanning the railroad tracks. Yet the bridge came at the cost of a steel eyebar suspension bridge with pony truss decking, which was built during the first World War, with the help of French soldiers. It was originally named the Hindenburg Bridge before it was changed after World War II. Despite being considered a historic landmark, excessive rust and corrosion, caused by diesel-powered trains passing underneath it, doomed the bridge, causing the city council to decide for a replacement span. The cable-stayed bridge was built to the north of the bridge and after its completion in 2005, the 1916 bridge was dismantled and sold for scrap, despite protests by many who wanted to keep the structure for reuse as a pedestrian bridge.

 

While some local newspapers have mentioned a bit about Halle’s bridges, more publicity on the structures was presented through a guide of Halle’s infrastructure, which was presented last year and included as many as 38 bridges in and around the city. Whether the article originally published in the Chronicles in 2012 as well as following newspaper articles had something to do with that or if people enjoy visiting the city’s bridges remains clear. But given the interest of tying the city’s bridges in with its history, it is a foregone conclusion that these historical structures will be properly cared for for generations to come, thus giving Halle several accolades for its heritage that had been kept under the rug by the East German government until 1989 but has shown its beautiful sides since then. And these 38 bridges, seen here in this guide (in German), together with a map of the bridges visited in 2011 and 2015, are one of many reasons why Halle is a place to visit when travelling through Germany and wanting a good bike tour through the city’s history and heritage. It is one of the cities I’ve since had on my top 10 German places to visit list. You’ll understand why when you get a chance to see it too.🙂

Peissnitz Island Bridge Photo taken in Dec. 2015
Peissnitz Island Bridge Photo taken in Dec. 2015

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Halle (Saale) is famous for many markets and events honoring Handel and other music greats. This includes the Christmas market, which you can click here to read about. Courtesy of sister column The Flensburg Files.

The Bridges of Glauchau (Saxony), Germany

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There is a philosophy pertaining to visiting a town that makes tourism unique and interesting: Always look for the most uncommon and unvisited places first before visiting the main attractions. They have the most valuable information and features that will make you leave town knowing a bit more than before.

Glauchau, located in western Saxony approximately 20 kilometers west of Chemnitz and 13 kilometers north of neighboring Zwickau is a typical farming community. Yet despite having 23,000 residents, the community, which has a historic city center and two castles, is known for its serenity, as there is not much activity directly in the city, but more in the areas full of green, thanks to its parks, the Glauchau Reservoir and the green areas along the Zwickauer Mulde River. Here’s a sample of what a person can see while spending time in this quiet community:

And while I was there for an interview for a teaching position at an international school, I was reminded of the philosophy mentioned at the beginning, when it came to relics of the past. While the community was once a pub for the textile industry, it also has a set of historic bridges that are worth visiting. One of which was a viaduct spanning a street and valley, which provided a spectacular view of the northwestern end of Glauchau. Once crossing that enroute to the interview and realizing that I had a long waiting time to catch the returning train to Jena in Thuringia, it became my mission to see what other bridges are worth the visit. And sure enough, enough diamonds in the rough were discovered, which were enough to justify constructing a tour guide showing the readers where these bridges can be found and thus encouraging people to visit them in addition to the town’s historic city center. A map and link to a gallery of photos can be found at the end of the article.

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Lungwitzbach Railroad Viaducts:

When arriving at Glauchau Railway Station from Dresden and Chemnitz, this bridge pairing will greet you, as you cross Lungwitzsbach Creek and the parallel street leading to St. Egedien. Both structures are at least a century old, but each one having a different design and built using different materials. The sandy grey structure with dark brown arches is the most heavily traveled and also the oldest of the two, having been built in the 1860s and is part of the magistrate connecting Dresden with Zwickau and Hof. The bridge has seven arches and and each spandrel is partially closed, for half-circle openings appear, one on each end of the arch. The bridge appears to have been rehabilitated between five and ten years ago, with the line being electrified and the bridge strengthened to provide more trains along the line. One can see the work with the concrete shelves sticking out between the arches, where each overhead pole sits.

The sandy brown colored bridge next to it features a three-span open spandrel arch bridge, totaling three spans. The spandrels have an arch top- for each arch span, there are three spandrels on each side. That structure only serves freight traffic although it had previously served a railway line along the Zwickauer Mulde, connecting Penig, Rochlitz and Grimma. Both bridges are about 200 meters long and have two tracks each. It is unknown who was behind the design and construction of the two bridges, but they are considered the longest in Glauchau and ones that are a must-see when spending time there.

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Am Schafteich Railroad Bridge:

Spanning the Zwickauer Mulde River, this bridge is the nearest of the two arch bridges to greet passengers when entering Glauchau Railway Station from the west (Erfurt, Meerane and Zwickau). This bridge is the gateway to the industrial park, where automobile parts are produced for Volkswagen, whose production facility is located between Glauchau and Zwickau. The structure features three closed spandrel arch spans, the longest (which spans the river) is built using limestone and is about 80 meters. The side arches are built using sandstone and limestone, thus creating a unique color and pattern combination. Each of the spans are about 30 meters, one of which crosses the street. The bridge is the most difficult to photograph because three fourths of the structure is on private property and is fenced off. The last fourth features trees, tall bushes and no sidewalk, thus the risk is great when photographing the structure, as you can see in the pics. The bridge is at least 120 years old but serves the magistrate between Dresden and Hof via Zwickau but also the line between Erfurt and Glauchau. This line is part of the planned Mitteldeutschland Route, connecting Chemnitz with Cologne via Erfurt, Kassel and Gera. It is expected that InterCity trains will start serving the line by 2023, thus making Glauchau a train stop for long-distance trains for the first time since 2006.

 

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Gründelteich Island Bridge and Statue

Gründelteich Bridge and Statue

Located at the southeast end of Gründelteich pond near the Hintere Glauchau Castle, this bridge has been in service since the 1880s as it served as the lone access to the island. The history behind the island is that it was named in honor of Heinrich Carl Hedrich (1816-1900), who spent most of his life in Glauchau and left a mark in the city’s history. Hedrich was responsible for the rechanneling of the (Zwickauer) Mulde while reconstructing the dam that had been destroyed by flooding in 1839. Furthermore, he invented Germany’s  first modern water main line running through the community, as a way of channeling water away from the river and to the households. In addition to the construction of the mills and dams, Hedrich harnessed electricity through hydroelectric power. The people in Glauchau benefitted from his inventions, and Hedrich was rewarded with a head statue and an monument with a golden angel in 1884, about the same time this bridge was built. The decking, railings and piers appear to be at least 45 years old, yet the design of the bridge is the same as the original built in 1884.

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Talstrasse Viaduct

Talstrasse Viaduct

Also known as the Scherberger Bridge, this bridge is a cross between modernitity and history as the 1920s structure features a concrete closed spandrel Luten arch main span and two circular mini-spans implanted in the wingwall on each side. Furthermore, Art Greco patterns can be seen in the main arch span. This bridge, which spans Talstrasse at Otto-Schimmel-Strasse, which used to be the main route between the city center and the textile district before the Fall of the Wall in 1989. With the textile factories having been closed down, the route is still important today as drivers use it to reach their destination of the train station, which is three kilometers north of the city center. The bridge appears to have been rehabilitated and restored in the past decade to maintain its structural integrity and aesthetic appearance, both of which have been achieved admirably with this bridge and should be used as a posterboy for other arch bridges of this caliber that exist in the US and elsewhere, many of which are in danger of being demolished and replaced.

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Waldburger Viaduct

Waldenburger Viaduct

The Waldenburger Viaduct is one of three stone arch viaducts serving the rail lines passing through Glauchau. All of them appear to have been built in the 1860s as the rail lines between Glauchau and Werdau were established. This bridge features three arch spans- the center for vehicular traffic, the outer for the cyclists and pedestrians. With the renewed electrification of the line in the early 2000s, this bridge was renovated as part of the plan to reintroduce InterCity trains between Chemnitz and Cologne via Jena, Erfurt and Kassel. By 2023, InterCity trains are expected to stop in Glauchau from Hof (South), Dresden (East) and Cologne (West). Until then, passengers have only the regional trains connecting the town with Meerane, Gößnitz and Gera to the west as well as those going to Zwickau and Aue to the south and those going to Chemnitz and Dresden to the east, to contend with. But subtracting that, the bridge is one of the nicer structures to visit while in Glauchau but one that stands out in the face of buildings that are victims of either neglect or modernization. If one can detect this bridge early, it is not a miss. Otherwise, it is drowned out by these factors.

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Zimmerstrasse Covered Bridge:

Located behind the Wehrdigtschule, this bridge is an easy miss if one goes past it along Lindenstrasse. But its history dates back to the 19th century, when the establishment of factories and residential areas to the west of town necessitated the need for crossings over the Mulde. This crossing was one of four that were built under the direction of Hedrich (the same person responsible for the modern water main lines, mills and the dam), but six additional ones were built after the turn of the century. While the original crossing was most likely destroyed in World War II, this bridge took its place many years later. Between 15 and 25 years old, this wooden Pratt truss bridge is quite modern for a covered bridge but one that gives the nearby schools at Wehrdigt and the Saxony International Elementary School some charm, especially as children and teachers can utilize this crossing for safety and receational purposes.

This bridge was the lone structure I could not find during my first trip through Glauchau, but I recently visited the bridge in September during a tour to Zwickau and found some details worth noting: The bridge is made of wood but with steel bracing, and the connections are pin-connected, some of which featured steel gusset plates embedded into the wooden beams and then bolted with steel, as you can see in the picture above. One cannot see that with other covered bridges unless it’s modern, thus supporting my previous argument of its age. In either case, the bridge is heavily used, especially by school children.🙂

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Hintere Glauchau Castle Viaduct

Hintere Glauchau Castle Viaduct:

Located at the southern entrance to the Hintere Glauchau Castle, this five-span concrete and stone arch bridge spans a deep valley and judging by the appearance, is perhaps the oldest bridge in Glauchau, having been built at the same time as the castle itself in the 14th Century. The structure was needed to provide passage into and out of the castle, while the valley floor used to be a moat, used to keep intruders from attacking the castle from the outside. Today’s bridge serves pedestrians, but given its appearance, it would cause an American bridge builder to sound off the alarm regarding structural deficiencies, calling for the demolition and replacement with something resembling a bridge at Walt Disney World in Florida. Fortunately, engineers recognize the bridge’s importance and have been working to stabilize the structure, while at the same time, maintain its original form.

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Nordufer Bridge

Nordufer Bridge:

At over 200 meters spanning the outer channel of the Mulde, the Nordufer Bridge is the oldest of the existing bridges along this channel. As a key link to Zwickau, it is also the busiest as 30 vehicles cross the bridge per minute. The 50+ year old bridge, which is characterized by its expansion and contracting rollers, has shown significant signs of wear and tear with cracks and spalling appearing on the girder spans. It is likely, given its approximate location near the industrial area and the Saxony International School, it will be replaced in the next decade.

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Expansion Device: The Roller

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South Dam and Bridge

South Dam and Bridge:

Located over the Mulde, this bridge is perhaps the second oldest in Glauchau, having been built in the late 1800s. This is recognizable with the cast iron railings and its approximate location to the mill and an unusual water silo. It is possible that this bridge was one of four built by Hedrich, but more information is needed to confirm these claims.

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Close-up of the cast iron railings

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Leitschutzdamm

Leitschutzdamm at Glauchau Reservoir:

Located near the Glauchau Reservoir, this dam was built for the purpose of rechanneling the Mulde in the event of flooding. That means all excessive water flow through the dam and along the outer channel, alleviating the flow of water along the main river going through town without flooding it. Despite being built in the 1980s, this may be the site of the first dam built by Hedrich as the river was rechanneled in the 1880s. When water is diverted towards the town, one can see some unique patters in the channel bed when little water is flowing, as seen in the pic below. The dam acts as a crossing, enabling cyclists and pedestrians to go in the direction of the southern countryside.

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Meerane Bridge
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Hochufer Bridge

Flood Channel Crossings:

Apart from the N0rdufer Bridge, the Flood Channel Crossings feature three bridges built between 1995  and 2010: a railroad bridge serving the rail lines connecting Glauchau and places to the south and west that is of concrete girder design, and two of these bridges made using the cantilever deck design: the one at Meerane Strasse and one at Waldenburger Strasse (Hochufer Bridge). It is most likely that the previous crossings were arch spans but in either case, as the railroad bridge is rather bland in its appearance, the Meerane and Hochufer Bridges are quite fancy for their taste, if one looks at their aesthetic appearance more closely.🙂

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Wernsdorf Bridge:

This bridge, spanning the Mulde in the southern suburb of Wernsdorf, was one that was completely missed while on tour. The reason: Upon arrival at the crossing, I found the bridge to not exist anymore. I later found out in my research that the bridge had been removed due to structural concerns. In addition, as the region was prone to flooding, dikes needed to be reinforced to keep the waters of the Mulde from flooding the corn fields.  Prior to its demise, the Chemnitz Freie Presse wrote a eulogy about the structure and its time as a crossing, which can be summarized as follows:

The bridge was built in 1954 to replace a wooden bridge that had been washed away by flooding. It was a simple beam bridge of six spans, built of concrete and steel, and had once been used as main traffic between the village of Wernsdorf and all points going to the south and west. After sustaining damage by  the flooding in 2013, the structure was closed to all traffic, and officials in Wernsdorf and Glauchau worked on a plan to replace the bridge as it served as a vital link, not just for cyclists and locals, but also for farmers. After the plan for a new bridge had been unveiled, the old structure was demolished in April 2016. It is expected that a new bridge will open to traffic before the end of this year and with that, the key link between Wernsdorf and Glauchau will be reestablished.

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Fordere Glauchau Castle Bridges

Fordere Glauchau Castle Bridges:

Consisting of two stone arch bridges, these crossings were part of the original Fordere Castle that was built in 1470 and is still considered the oldest Rennaissance castle in the region. Not much has been written about the castle’s history except for the fact that there were three periods of construction involving this Baroque-style castle: between 1470 and 1485, between 1520 and 1534 and in the 18th and 19th Centuries. The Hintere Castle was constructed in the 16th Century, however its viaduct to the castle dates back to the 14th century. The two bridges were built during the second period and was most likely renovated during the third phase. In either case, the crossing served its purpose of allowing people to enter and exit the castle without having to worry about drawbridges over moats or even trying to ford the crossing. The crossings are only 20 meters apart, still though, they also serve as a good observation deck, where one can see much of Glauchau and its landscape as far as the eye can see. As the castles and the city center are on a high hill, that serves as a big advantage for tourists and photographers alike.🙂

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As one can see in the pics, the philosophy holds true regarding historic places in a community. Glauchau may be considered a ghost town with little or no activity, a town with two castles and a well-networked school system educating people from different nationalities, a farming community, and one laden with places of Christianity. However, in my visit, I found out by chance that the town is laden with diamonds in the rough as far as history is concerned. No one (on the outside) knew about Heinrich Carl Hedrich’s contributions until my visit, let alone the bridges with either a vast amount of documented history or a potential of finding some history about them. Sometimes it takes some tours with the bike and a good camera to find out the sides of a community that no one knew about. With Glauchau, there was more to know about the town than before, and when viewing these bridges, perhaps others will be willing to contribute to the history of the community in western Saxony.

For more on the places visited in Glauchau, there are a couple useful links that are of use:

Map of Glauchau and the Bridges:

 

Gallery of Photos of the Places in Glauchau, which you can see here: 

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1149254905105157.1073741854.100000619742271&type=1&l=61ee592055

 

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The Bridges of Ulm, Germany

Neutor Bridge located northeast of Ulm Central Station (Ulm Hauptbahnhof). Photos taken in May 2015
Neutor Bridge located northeast of Ulm Central Station (Ulm Hauptbahnhof). Photos taken in May 2015

Located along the Danube River, the city of Ulm, with a population of over 123,000 is one of the oldest cities in Germany. First mentioned in 850, the city had straddled the river for almost a millenium, making it one of the key points of trade and commerce. It had once been declared an Imperial City by order of Friedrich Barbarossa in 1181. However, thanks to Napoleon’s conquest in 1805, Ulm was parted along the river, making it part of Baden-Wurttemberg, whereas the settlement east of the Danube was declared Bavarian and renamed Neu-Ulm. The names have remained the same ever since, although both cities are deeply engaged in joint ventures on the public and private scales, and are sister cities of New Ulm in Minnesota (USA). Some of the key characteristics Ulm has to offer include a professional basketball team “ratiopharm Ulm,” The Ulm Minster Cathedral with the world’s highest steeple surrounded by historic buildings and a large market square, the historic city hall, a pyramid-shaped modern public library, one of the largest collection of “Fachwerk” houses dating back to the Medieval Era (many located along the canals streaming through the southern part of the old town, and memorials honoring scientist Albert Einstein as well as Hans and Sophie Scholl, leaders of the White Rose movement that propagandized against the regime of Adolf Hitler.

And then there are the bridges that are worth mentioning. While all of the Danube crossings in Ulm/Neu Ulm were destroyed towards the end of World War II, a large portion of the pre-1945 bridges were spared  destruction and subsequentially repaired to make them functional again. Whether it is the Neutor Bridge or the stone arch bridges along the Blau Canal, or even the rebuilt Herd Bridge, Ulm today still has a wide array of bridges that fit the cityscape, some of which conform to the Renaissance period landscape in a way that a person is actually walking back into time to get a glimpse of Ulm’s past.

This tour takes you to the most noteworthy bridges in Ulm one should visit while visiting the city. The goal is to provide you with a glimpse at the role of the bridges in the city’s development and their survival through two World Wars. While there are over five crossings over the Danube River, the Herd Bridge will be profiled here because of its historic significance despite being rebuilt after World War II. The other bridges were built in the 1960s on and do not have the historic taste in comparison with the bridges mentioned here. For some of the other bridges profiled here, information is missing on their history- in particular, the bridge builder and the year of construction. If  you wish to add some information about these bridges, please contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles, and that information will be added.

A map of the bridges’ and their location are found here and the bridges….

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Herdbrücke with Neu-Ulm in the backrgound
Herdbrücke with Neu-Ulm in the backrgound

Herdbrücke (EN: Herd Bridge):  

Location: Danube River (main channel) at Donaustrasse (Ulm) and Marienstrasse (Neu Ulm).

Bridge type: Closed spandrel arch bridge with ribbed spandrels

Length: 75 meters

This bridge is one of two crossings that carry a single street over both channels of the Danube River. Ironically, the Gänsetorrücke in Neu Ulm, despite spanning the narrower channel of the river is longer than this bridge by about 21 meters. This bridge features a single span elliptical arch design wide and tall enough to accomodate boat traffic along the river. Built in 1949, its predecessor was a three-span brick arch bridge built in 1832 and named after Ludwig Wilhelm. Unfortunately in an attempt to slow the advancement of American and British troops from the west, the Nazis imploded the bridge in April 1945, a month before Germany capitulated in Berlin and Flensburg, respectively (please click on this link for more information on this topic). A temporary bridge was erected, which remained in service until this bridge was built. Today, this bridge serves as the key link between the city centers of Ulm and Neu Ulm, while at the same time, its historic significance fits in nicely with the surroundings of both cities: a 1949 bridge whose modernity fits the cityscape of Neu Ulm but its arch design fits  nicely with the old town of  Ulm itself. A nice compromise for a crossing like this one.

Neutorbrücke with the Ulm Minster Cathedral in the background
Neutorbrücke with the Ulm Minster Cathedral in the background

Neutorbrücke (EN: Neutor Bridge):

Location: Ulm-Treutchingen-Nuremberg Railline at Neutorstrasse NE of Ulm Hauptbahnhof (Railway Station)

Bridge type: Steel cantilever truss bridge with Warren truss features

Built: 1907 by Levi and Büttner as well as Machinefabrik Esslingen

The Neutor Bridge is the most ornamental of the bridges in Ulm. At over 120 meters long, the bridge’s main features are the towers, whose finials are covered with gold egg-like figures. The towers portals features the city’s shield with its black and white color. When taken from Kienlesbergstrasse, you can capture the bridge and the cathedral all in one, as long as the weather is cooperative.

A close-up of the tower's portals and finials.
A close-up of the tower’s portals and finials.

While designed by Levi and Büttner, the construction of the  bridge was done by the firm Maschinenbauwerk in Esslingen, a very popular steel fabricator of bridges and train locomotives until the late 1960s. The company was founded by Emil Kessler in 1846 and was solely responsible for the construction of railroad bridges, railroad tracks and train locomotives and coaches. Apart from this bridge, the company was responsible of the building of the Unterreichenbach Railroad Bridge in 1874 (today, the only example of a Schwedler truss bridge left), The Neckar River Steel Arch Bridge at Plochingen in 1949, and The Fehmarn Bridge in 1963. The company survived several takeovers and concourses during its 120+ year history before the company announced its cessation of production in 1966. Shortly thereafter, it was bought by Daimler-Benz.

Despite being used regularly and its thoroughly done maintenance, the bridge will receive another crossing only 200 meters to the west, which will provide a more direct connection between the city center and train station  to the southwest as well as the freeway Highway 10 to the west. While the design has been announced, construction has not started yet as of present. It does appear though that the bridge will be left in place as a secondary crossing going to the northeast once the new crossing is open by 2020.

Ludwig Erhard Bridge at Ulm Hauptbahnhof
Ludwig Erhard Bridge at Ulm Hauptbahnhof

Ludwig Erhard Bridge:

Location: Munich-Ulm-Stuttgart Railline at Ulm Hauptbahnhof (Railway Station)

Bridge type: Cable-stayed suspension bridge

Built: 2007 replacing the Blaubeurerbrücke

The Ludwig Erhard Bridge is the first bridge you will see when disembarking the train at the railway station. In the daytime, one can see the blue and grey colors of the tower and cables as it decorates the hillside in the background. At night, however, the colors change to yellow, for the towers are lit by sodium street lamps lining up the meridian and the inner portions of the towers, thus making photography an interesting adventure. The bridge replaces the Blaubeurer Bridge, a steel girder bridge from the 1950s that had corroded away thanks to the black smoke from the trains combined with heavy traffic. Yet this combination steel and concrete bridge improves a key link along Karlstrasse between the city center, Neutorbrücke, the railway station and the eastern suburbs on one end, and the freeway Highway 10 and parks to the west. All of the mentioned locations are centralized and easily accessible even by foot.

Bleicher Hag Bridge
Bleicher Hag Bridge

Bleicher Hag Bridge:

Location: Munich-Ulm-Stuttgart Railline and railroad yard at the junction of Am Bleicher Hag and Blaubeurerstrasse at Ulm-Lehrertal

Bridge type: Bedstead Pratt pony truss with riveted connections

Built: ca. 1920

The Bleicher Hag Bridge is the longest of the bedstead truss bridges that exist along the railroad lines serving Ulm, with five spans of 120 meters, totalling 600 meters. There is little information about the construction date of the bridge, let alone the bridge builder, yet given the popularity of the riveted truss bridges after the turn of the century and the effects of World War I, a date of 1920 best made sense to pinpoint. The caveat with this bridge is its narrowness- only 3 meters wide and with a weight limit of six tons.

U15aBut given the increasing demand of rail traffic and the improvement of vehicular traffic, chances are likely that this bridge may be replaced with a larger, more appealing structure in the next 10-15 years. But it depends on the availability of money and manpower to make it happen.

Lehrertal Overpass
Lehrertal Overpass

Lehrertal Railroad Overpass:

Location: Railroad line at Y-junction of Ulm-Treuchtingen-Nuremberg Line and Munich-Ulm-Stuttgart Line, north of Ulm Hauptbahnhof.

Bridge type: Bedstead subdivided Warren pony truss bridge with welded connections 

This bridge is hard to find, unless one wishes to walk across the Highway 10 bridge on the north side. Here is where one can get the best photo. The bridge is unique because of its curved spans as it crosses the rail lines going east past Ulm. Most likely this bridge is used for freight traffic not wishing to stop at Ulm Railway Station, located only 500 meters to the south. Like the Bleicher Hag Bridge, the Lehrertal Bridge has little information on its history but it appears that the bridge has been in service for 60+ years, namely because of its welded connections that had started becoming popular at that time. Yet more information is needed to confirm this.

Schieferhausbrücke
Schiefeshausbrücke

Schiefeshausbrücke:

Location: Grosses Blau Canal on a pedestrian path between Schwörthausgasse and Fischergasse

Bridge type: Brick arch bridge

There are many small crossings along the Blau Canal that compliment the Fachwerk houses in the Old Town. Yet this two-span arch bridge is the more popular of the crossings, and one of the more visible bridges to photograph. The bridge dates back to the 1700s and it is built using brick. No information on its length is given, but it is estimated to be 20 meters long and only three meters wide. The bridge is located only 15 meters behind Das Schiefe Haus, the oldest existing house remaining in Ulm that dates back to the 1500s and one whose name fits the description, as seen in the picture below:

Das Schiefes Haus with the bridge in the background.
Das Schiefe Haus with the bridge in the background.

The house is the only one of its kind in Germany with this unusual feature. It is a now a bed and breakfast, located right on the canal. Anybody care to eat or sleep at the water level?😉

Weinhofbergbrücke
Weinhofbergbrücke

Weinhofbergbrücke:

Location: Grosse Blau Canal at Weinhofbergstrasse and Auf der Insel

Bridge type: Brick arch bridge

Located at the north tip of the island surrounded by the Blau Canal, this bridge is the lesser visible of the brick arch crossings because of the Fachwerkhäuser and vegetation interfering with the view. Nevertheless, the bridge fits nicely in the cityscape, providing access to some of the small shops in the Old Town. It is located behind one of the recently restored Fachwerk houses (the light brown colored one as seen in the picture) where a gallery and private residence occupies it. The bridge dates back to the 1700s but unlike the one at Schiefeshaus, this one carries automobile traffic but at a snail’s pace because of the high number of people soaking in the scenery of Ulm’s Old Town.

There are many more to see in Ulm, but these examples are the ones that should be visited first because of their historic and aesthetic appearance and how they fit the cityscape. Many of them are difficult to find and one will end up walking past them as they see the Fachwerk houses or even the other places of interest in the Old Town. But in case you stop at at least a couple of them to pay homage to them, you will have a chance to learn how oatingthey have played an integral part in the city’s development over the past three centuries. Unlike the ones in New Ulm in the US, where most of the crossings are now modern, these crossings are unique because of their history and design, even more so because of how thy fit Ulm’s cityscape, thus adding them to the storied list of places to see while in Ulm. Taking the line from Hans Scholl, one can sum up Ulm’s history as the following: Es lebe die Geschichte und Kulturerbe, in addition to his famous last words: “Es lebe die Freiheit.”

EN: Long live freedom, history and heritage.

bhc new logo jpegAuthor’s Note: This article is part of a series being done on the cities of Ulm/ Neu Ulm, Germany and the city of New Ulm written by sister column, The Flensburg Files. For more on this topic, click on the logo below for more details. The story behind Hans and Sophie Scholl can also be found there as well.

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Also: The Files has a Genre of the Week entitled “The Fire Within,” written by Sophie Scholl, which if clicked here, might be of interest to the reader.🙂

The Bridges of New Ulm, Minnesota

6th Street Overpass in New Ulm. Photo taken by the author in 2010

Going back to the series on Ulm and New Ulm with sister column The Flensburg Files, we will take a look at the bridges in the American counterpart. Located along the Minnesota River at the junction of the Big Cottonwood River, New Ulm, with a population of 13,400, has some of the characteristics of Main Street USA. Yet as you pass through, everything you see is German, from names to buildings and monuments, as well as the market square and the Oktoberfest.

New Ulm is served by two key highways: Minnesota Hwy. 15 between St. Cloud and Iowa going north to south, and US Hwy. 14 between Mankato and Rochester in the east and Walnut Grove and Brookings to the west. The railroad line owned by Canadian Pacific runs parallel to this highway. These highways and railroad had once made New Ulm a key trading center when it was established in 1854 and rebuilt after the Dakota War of 1862. With that came the crossings along the Minnesota and Cottonwood Rivers, which helped serve this purpose. Today, the highways are modernized and with that, longer and wider bridges to serve traffic- at least for the east-west route as New Ulm and Mankato are located only 15 miles from each other, making commuting easier. Yet many traces of history can also be found mainly to the south of New Ulm, where historic bridges once stood but today only a pair of vintage railroad bridges are still standing. This guide takes you through the city of New Ulm and the historic bridges that had once existed but have been replaced. The purpose is to remind visitors of their existence and the bridge companies that were responsible for turning New Ulm into a city of commerce, a title still held as proudly today as its German heritage. Most of the bridges profiled are located to the south and east, with a pair of outlyers to the north. You can find them on this map, when clicking here.

6th Street Arch Underpass:

The stone arch bridge spans 6th Street North, carrying the Canadian Pacific Railroad. The 38 foot long stone arch bridge was constructed in 1909 and had originally served both the east-west route (owned by CP) and a north-south route which was once owned by the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad. That line connected New Ulm with Winthrop (in the north) and Storm Lake, Iowa (in the south) until its abandonment in 1970. The bridge now only serves the CP route, but it serves as a key entrance to German Park, located just to the west of this bridge in the northern part of the business district.

12th Street Overpass in New Ulm. Photo taken by John Marvig in September 2011, shortly afterwards it was replaced.

12th Street Overpass: 

This bridge is located at the far end of New Ulm, spanning 12th Street North, carrying CP Railroad. Built in 1911, the 30-foot bridge featured a plate girder decorated with wooden railties. However, due to structural concerns, the bridge was replaced with a combination steel and concrete structure in 2012. It still serves traffic today.

Redstone Bridge (side view). Photo taken by John Marvig in January 2013

Redstone Railroad Bridge

Located over the Minnesota River opposite the city center, the Redstone Bridge is the longest of the bridges in New Ulm and one of the longest of the railroad bridges spanning the Minnesota River. The 880 foot long bridge, consisting of two quadrangular truss spans with Town Lattice portal bracings and a 207-foot long swing span built of Pratt design and featuring a beam-style with heels portals, was built in 1880 by the Leighton Bridge and Iron Works Company in New York. It originally served the main line of Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, connecting New Ulm and St. Peter. However, the line was detoured in 1971 to have it connected with Mankato, thus rendering the line to St. Peter useless. The bridge still serves rail traffic but only to the quarry near the Courtland Cutoff before it terminates. The piers of the swing span was reinforced with concrete in 2014 to stabilize the structure, but overall, the bridge is still in use and maintains its historic significance. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Portal view of the approach span. Photo taken by John Marvig in May 2015

DM&E Cottonwood River Railroad Bridge west of the Minnesota River in New Ulm. Photo taken by John Marvig in May 2015

D,M&E Cottonwood River Railroad Bridge:

Located only a half mile northwest of Redstone Bridge, the Cottonwood River crossing is the longest bridge over the Cottonwood River (and the last crossing before its confluence with the Minnesota River only 600 feet to the east) at 733 feet total. The bridge features two quadrangular truss main spans with A-frame portal braces, each measured at 157 feet, with the rest being wooden trestle approach spans. These were replaced with concrete and steel trestle spans in 2009. The bridge was built in 1913, using the piers of the 1890 span, which had deteriorated to a point where replacement was necessary. The bridge continues to serve rail traffic to Mankato today, for it is the main line served by Canadian Pacific Railroad. 


Poor Farm Bridge before its replacement. Photo courtesy of HABS HAER
Poor Farm Bridge before its replacement. Photo courtesy of HABS HAER

Poor Farm Bridge:

Located just west of MN Hwy. 15 on Cottonwood Street, Poor Farm Bridge represented a lone example of a bridge built by the Security Bridge Company based in Billings, Montana. The structure was built in 1907 and featured a pin-connected Pratt through truss with Howe lattice portal bracings with heel bracings, with a total measurement of 155 feet. The bridge continued to serve traffic until a cracked eyebar in the bottom chord led to its closure in February 1991. It was replaced with its present structure 3 years later.  Had the advancement of historic bridge preservation been as predominant as it is right now, chances would have been likely that this bridge would have been standing, serving light traffic or at least be used as a pedestrian crossing. But the lack of technology pertaining to fixing broken iron and steel beams contributed to its demise.

Portal view with the builder's plaque. Photo courtesy of HABS HAER
Portal view with the builder’s plaque. Photo courtesy of HABS HAER

Courtland Cutoff 1

Courtland Cutoff Bridge

Located over the Minnesota River 300 feet north of the present 20th Street Bridge, the Courtland Cutoff Bridge featured two Pratt through truss spans with Town lattice portal bracings supported by 45° heels. The bridge’s end posts and vertical posts were both V-laced, and it appeared to be built of iron. Although there are no records as to who built the 1892 bridge, the portal bracings and the builders plaques are typical of that built by Massilion Bridge Company in Ohio. But more information is needed to confirm this argument. The 335-foot bridge served traffic until 1978, when the present bridge was built on a new alignment. By 1980, the bridge was moved to the history books with the parts being reused for other purposes. Today, like the truss bridge, the Courtland Cutoff serves as a shortcut to Mankato without having to drive through down town New Ulm.

Courtland Cutoff 2


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Metzen Bridge:

Spanning the Cottonwood River east of the present Hwy. 15 crossing, the Metzen Bridge was built in 1880 and named after a nearby farm that had existed since the establishment of New Ulm in 1854. The bridge was built in 1880 and represents an example of a typical Wrought Iron Bridge Company bridge with its ornamental Town Lattice portal bracings and builder’s plaques. The 441-foot bridge featured a pin-connected Whipple through truss span (148 feet) and steel approach spans. Until 1932, the bridge was the primary crossing for Hwy. 15 going south of New Ulm. After a new crossing was built on a new alignment 700 feet to the west, the ownership of the Metzen Bridge was switched over to the city, which owned it until its removal in 1981. The bridge originally was located where Shag Road makes a sharp right going north and east towards the Cottonwood River Railroad Bridge. It originally was called Bridge Street because of the bridge. Yet Bridge Street terminates nears the Jensen Motors site, 250 feet north of the bridge. Had the bridge been standing, it would have been listed on the National Register because of its rare truss design. Ideally, it would have an excellent crossing for a bike trail leaving New Ulm going either south or along the Cottonwood.

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Hwy 15 B 1

Broadway Avenue Bridge (Hwy. 15)

Built in 1932 replacing the Metzen Bridge, the Broadway Avenue Bridge featured a continuous deck truss design using a combination Howe and Pratt designs. The connections were riveted. At 66o feet, the bridge was the second longest along the Cottonwood River. It was built on a new alignment alongside the Milwaukee Viaduct, a steel viaduct built in 1899 that had served the New Ulm-Madelia-Fairmont line until 1971. The purpose was to eliminate the dangerous curves presented by the Metzen Bridge, making the straightened road safer for travellers entering and leaving New Ulm. This was kept in mind in 1983, when the bridge was replaced with its present structure.

Hwy 15 B 2


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Flandrau State Park Bridge (CSAH 13)

Together with the Minnesota River Crossing at Hwys. 14 and 15, the Flandrau Bridge represented a classic example of a multiple span steel truss bridge built by the Illinois Steel Bridge Company. This bridge was built in 1921 and featured a two-span Camelback truss bridge with A-frame portal bracing and riveted connections. It provided travellers with a direct access to Flandrau State Park from the south until its replacement in 1962.

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Hwy. 14 Minnesota River Bridge

Together with the Flandrau State Park Bridge, this bridge was built by the Illinois Steel Company in 1922. It featured a Parker through truss main span with two Warren pony truss approach spans (all with riveted connections), totalling a span of 350 feet. The A-frame portal bracings were replaced with Howe lattice portal bracings in 1939 to accomodate the increasing height of trucks crossing the Minnesota River going in and out of New Ulm. In 1963, as part of the plan to widen the highway to four lanes, the bridge was replaced with its present structure. Today, the crossing still serves Hwy. 14 between New Ulm and Mankato as well as Hwy. 15 between New Ulm and St. Cloud, providing New Ulm with commerce from the north and east.

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This article is part of a series on the cities of New Ulm, Minnesota and Ulm/ Neu Ulm, Germany, produced together with sister column, The Flensburg Files. To access the articles in the series, please click on the symbols for access….

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Many thanks to Pete Wilson from Minnesota Department of Transportation for his help in finding some information and photos on the bridges, as well as John Marvig for allowing the author to use some of his photos. 

2015 Ammann Awards Underway/ New Website Relaunched

Bridge of Blue Miracle (Dt. Blaue Wunder Brücke) in Dresden, Germany. Photo taken in December 2011
Bridge of Blue Miracle (Dt. Blaue Wunder Brücke) in Dresden, Germany. Photo taken in December 2011

2015 marks a special year for the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles. Five years ago this month, together with sister column The Flensburg Files, the Chronicles was launched on the areavoices platform, operated by the Fargo-based InForum Communications. Over the years, the online column has expanded, winning support from hundreds of readers, preservationists and bridge-lovers alike, including those seeking help to preserve their beloved treasures of their communities.

NOW TAKING ENTRIES FOR THE 2015 AMMANN AWARDS

Again for the fifth time this year, the Chronicles is now collecting entries for the 2015 Ammann Awards. The Awards goes out to people who devoted their efforts into saving historic bridges, as well as historic bridges that are worth seeing, not just from the author’s point of view but also that of others.  Between now and December 1st, you can submit photos for Best Photo, mystery bridges for its own award as well as that for best preserved bridges, cities/regions with a high concentration of historic bridges for the Best Tour Guide, and people for Lifetime Achievement. More information you can find in the front header of the column or by clicking here. It includes the winners of the Awards in the previous years dating back to 2011.  Entries are due by December 1st, 2015 at 12:00am Central Standard Time (or December 2nd at 7:00am Berlin Time).

Voting will then proceed from there, which will be done directly through the Chronicles’ polling page. This was introduced as part of the launch of the Chroncles’ wordpress website page, earlier this year. More instructions to come once the entries are collected.

In addition to the traditional voting, voting will also take place to determine the top five places to visit historic and unique bridges as well as the top five bridges to visit, both on a national and international scale. This is in connection with the Chronicles’ fifth anniversary and it includes not only the bridges and places profiled here to date, but also those you have contributed. If you want to contribute to this part, please let Jason Smith at the Chronicles know. The e-mail address can be found in the header About the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles.

WEBSITE RELAUNCHED:

After a few months absence, the Chronicles’ wordpress website page has received a much-needed makeover, The reason behind this is due to the problems with the layout, combined with difficulties involving the font size and its contrast with the background color.   The website version will focus more on bridge tours, mystery bridges, and themes involving historic bridges and preservation, whereas the areavoices site will focus on news stories involving historic bridges as well as interviews with people and literary profiles, scheduled to be relaunched next year.  Both will have coverage on the Ammann Awards, but the long-range plans is to use the areavoices site for US bridges and the wordpress site for international bridges. But for now, enjoy the new website and there are many ways to follow both for more coverage on historic bridges.🙂

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Øresund Bridge

Oresund Bridge

Author’s Note: This bridge is part of the series on the Bridges of Copenhagen, which you can click here for a guide to the bridges worth visiting, even by bike.

7.5 kilometers long, connecting Copenhagen with Malmö in Sweden, the Øresund Bridge, judging from a photographer’s point of view, may look like the European version of “The Bridge to Nowhere,” a pun that was first used in Alaska, thanks to Sarah Palin’s bill to build a bridge to an island in the Pacific. The Øresund Strait, which connects the North and Baltic Seas, is one of the most treacherous bodies of water in the world, where two-thirds of the year on average brings forth either fog, storms, high winds or even a combination of the three. Upon my visit in 2011, the strait was so foggy that one can barely see the bridge, as seen from the town of Dragør. Furthermore, despite the warm humid August weather, steam was coming out of the water, approaching the shores, as seen below:

Oresund Bridge 2

Yet, travelling across the bridge, which features a tunnel on the Danish side, a tall cable-stayed suspension bridge, and a double-decker featuring the upper level for cars and lower level for rail traffic, is an experience every bridge lover and tourist should experience once in a lifetime. I had a chance to take a ride across the bridge by taxi, going to Malmö. And despite a steep cost for the 15 kilometer trip across the now 15-year old bridge, the trip was well worth it, as seen below:

But how the bridge was built has a history of its own, which featured many delays because of hidden bombs, broken machinery because of drilling attempts, high winds, construction accidents, and other items. But how the Danish and Swedish engineers and builders managed to construct this bridge within a given time span, and make the sleak structure elegant and a record breaker can be found through a documentary below as well as a text, which you can click on here:

From an author’s perspective, crossing the bridge and seeing the view of the strait was like a Trans-Atlantic flight: it was nothing but water for the 10 minutes I went across. Yet going through the really tall, cable-stayed towers, lit up at night, brought forth awe in a way that so many people, who built the bridge, had risked their lives to accomplish not just a feat, but the feat. The feat was not only connecting Denmark and Sweden, nor was it connecting Europe from Scandanavia to the Mediterranean Sea. It was the ability to connect lands from hundreds of kilometers away. Since its opening in 1999, at least 40 crossings longer than this one have been added to a world map that has gotten smaller by the year. And while most of them have originated from China, more ambitious projects are surely in the works, including the Bering Strait crossing and possibly connecting North America with Europe over the Atlantic. These may take a generation to complete, but the Øresund Bridge shows clearly that anything is possible as far as bridge construction is concerned.

Oresund Bridge 3

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Copenhagenization and Bridges

In the US, when it comes to bike trails and  bridges, they go together like bread and butter, for there are numerous examples of trails in the country where one important bridge is included.  There are Rails to Trails where former rail lines are converted into bike trails and include many iron and steel bridges in the process, like the Katy Trail, which connects St. Charles and Booneville in Missouri or the Cowboy Trail in northern Nebraska.  There are those, like the Wabash-Erie Canal Trail near Delphi in Indiana, where historic bridges are used as crossings- many of which are imported from other locations that are desolate and whose roads are no longer used, so that they have a new lease in life, like it was the case with the Gilmore Bridge, one of two Stearns through truss bridges left in the country.  And there are cases where either mail order bridges consisting of welded steel bridges are brought in to serve as crossings either because they were affordable or in some cases they replaced the historic bridges that were either deemed unsafe and had to be removed or collapsed because of disaster. The Horn’s Ferry Bridge in Marion County, Iowa (which a later article will explain about its history) is an example of such a case.

When cycling in Copenhagen, bridges and cycles go together like bread and butter but in a different fashion. As mentioned in the Flensburg Files article on Copenhagenization (please refer to the article by clicking here), Copenhagenization refers to the establishment of bike trail networks in a city at the expense of the automobile in an attempt to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which has contributed a great deal to global warming. This concept consists of including bike lanes on every main street- a concept known as sharing the road, as well as establishing bike routes going through green areas and parts of the city where one cannot reach by car. Ever since the 1950s when the concept was first developed, one will find bike routes virtually everywhere in the city, and more are being established to accommodate more bikers who seem to embrace the concept of commuting on a regular basis as a way of life in Copenhagen.

With Copenhagenization come the bridges that serve the canals and other deep ravines in and around the city.  Of the four dozen or so bridges that serve the city and the region of Kastrup), all but a couple bridges are biker friendly- meaning space is made to accommodate those pedaling those two-wheelers, whose history and success dates back to the 1780s when the first bike (a walk-a bike because there were no pedals on it) was invented. In a couple cases, individual bridges were built just for bikes alone to make the trip through Copenhagen as hassle-free as possible.  It is no surprise that city planners plan their bridges to serve two key purposes: functionality and conforming to the city aesthetically.

In Copenhagen (and in general, Denmark), the bridge landscape consists mainly of bascule bridges and as well as various forms of deck arches, regardless of the materials used for constructing them (some were built using brick while the rest were made of steel). One will rarely see a truss bridge in site. In fact, one can see a Town Lattice pony truss bridge spanning a lake at Norreport Park on the north end of the city center.  The majority of the structures were completed in the 1930s and 40s, even though there are some exceptions to the rule- these will be presented below.  However, recent developments have indicated that with the increase of cyclists roaming the streets of Copenhagen, the need for bridges to cross the bodies of water surrounding Copenhagen and the ravines consisting of small valleys- some filled with rail lines entering the city from the west and south.  In the past decade alone, as many as a dozen bridges have been built in Copenhagen, most of them located in the southern and eastern ends of the city in places like Christiania, Ørestad, and Kastrup, where much of the area has been developed along the water front. While the main purpose of these new bridges still is to function as a means of transporting people from point A to point B, many bridge engineers have come up with fashionable ways to make the structures appealing to those who either cross or go past them. While many pontists would consider these bridges too modern and bland for their taste, others have embraced them as a symbol of the city and its pride in encouraging people to use the bike instead of the car to get around.

To please both parties, I have chosen  five of the best historic bridges and five of the must see bridges that are part of the Copenhagenization process. Each one will feature a brief summary as well as a photo to provide a tourist with a chance to see them from the eyes of the bridge photographer and perhaps plan a visit to them while in Copenhagen. Please note that the Øresund Bridge is not included in this article for a separate article will be presented on this structure at a later time. For each category, there will be two that will be mentioned honorably with a couple remarks about them.

Jason’s Pics for Copenhagen’s Historic Bridges

Stormbroen Bridge

Stormbroen Bridge

Location: Slotsholmen Canal between Stormgade (near Copenhagen’s city hall) and Vindebrogade

Built: 1650/1681; rehabilitated in 1918

Description: One-span closed spandrel brick arch bridge with ornamental railings.

Bridgehunter’s comments: While the inscriptions on the concrete railings indicated that the bridge was constructed in 1650, literary sources pointed the date of 1681 as the time of its construction. Nevertheless, the bridge is perhaps the oldest bridge left in Copenhagen that is still in service.  The bridge was the main show for the Swedish Army’s attack on the people of Copenhagen in 1659. Despite gaining ground on the city, the Danish eventually gained the upper hand and drove the Swedes back over the straight, leaving 2000 dead in the process. Today, this bridge still serves traffic but in a small neighborhood east of the city center. While it may be a forgotten bridge to many, this structure still holds a lot of history for those who know about it, even when talking about it over a cup of cappuccino at the cafés located nearby or passing through it by boat.

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 Højbro Bridge

Location: Canal connecting the inner harbor between Højbro Square and Slotsholmen

Built: 1878

Description: Closed spandrel wrought iron bridge with ornamental design

Bridgehunter’s comments: The Højbro is the most ornamental of the bridges serving the inner city of Copenhagen. With its lion head serving as the keystone (center point of the main span) and its colors of gold and grey, the bridge is largely noticeable by those either passing under it by boat or past or even over it by foot or by bike.

This the last of the works of Vilhelm Dahlerup, who was a prominent bridge builder in Denmark and given the recent renovation and its ability to handle multiple traffic, this bridge will remain over the canal for years to come.

Langenbro Bridge1

 Langebro Bascule Bridge

Location: Section of Copenhagen Inner Harbour carrying H.C. Andersen Blvd. and Amager Blvd. between Zealand and Amager respectively

Built: 1954 (present structure) replacing a temporary bridge built in 1930 to replace a 1903 swing bridge. Origin of the structure dates back to 1886.

Dimensions: 250 meters long with a vertical clearance of 7 meters above water

Description: Bascule Bridge (with open spandrel arch design made of steel) with closed spandrel arch approaches

Bridgehunter’s Remarks: The Langebro is perhaps the most popular of Copenhagen’s bridges per say, as it was featured in many fine arts pieces. It was a play written by Hans Christian Andersen, who was also famous for Mother Goose and other famous children’s stories. It was a scene of an attack by a reptile-like monster in a film made in 1961 entitled Reptilicus and the bridge was left in ruins as a result. And because the original bridge was relocated from London to Lake Havasu City, Arizona in 1969, the Langebro was featured as the replacement of the London Bridge in the 1971 film Geordie (the setting was also shifted to Copenhagen instead of London).  From the point of view of an architect, the bridge is the largest in Copenhagen and is one that is a must see, not only in terms of its functionality as a bascule bridge, but also in terms of its appearance with its red brick arch spans and the artwork featured along the canal next to the bridge. While it is probably inappropriate to use this bridge as an imitation of the London Bridge in Georgia, one can tell that this bridge still looks like it was built five years ago instead of almost 60 years ago and will most likely stay in service for a very long time, with a little bit of maintenance work.

Knippelsbro Bascule Bridge

 Knippelsbro Bascule Bridge

Location: Copenhagen Inner Harbor between Slotsholmen and Christiania

Built: 1937 as the fifth bridge built at the location. Designed by Kaj Gottlob.  First bridge built in 1620 and renewed 1816, 1869, 1908 and replaced with an interim bridge in 1934

Dimension: 115 meters long and 27 meters wide

Description: Bascule Bridge (span is a deck steel cantilever) with steel beam (north side) and closed spandrel arch (south side) approaches

Bridgehunter’s Remarks:  The Knippelsbro is the shorter of the two vehicular bridges spanning the Inner Harbor but is the shorter and most unique in comparison to its counterpart, the Langebro. While the bascule span looks similar to the Tower Bridge in London in terms of design and function (the two half spans open in opposite directions to allow ships to pass through), the north approach span is unique as the roadway is supported by steel cylindrical columns, which serves as hydraulic support as it lowers with the weight of traffic, making the roadway move vertically; especially when the bascule span lifts to allow ships to pass through.

This is extremely rare for a bridge, even though engineers are either building or even retrofitting many of the bridges to avoid the risk of collapse due to weight or even natural occurrences, such as an earthquake.  Veering away from the technical aspects of this bridge, the bridge dates as far back as nearly 400 years, when it was first known as the Great Amager Bridge, but had its name changed two additional times until the city settled for Knippelsbro, named after Hans Knip, who became caretaker of the bridge in 1641, collecting tolls from passersby and maintaining the structure’s upkeep. His house was located nearby and was named Knippenshus and the bridge was named Knippensbro, although it is unknown when and even more so why the people of Copenhagen embraced the official name of Knippelsbro.

Marmorbroen

Marmorbroen (Marble Bridge)

Location: Frederiksholm- Canal between Christiansborg Riding Ground Complex and Ny Vestergard which extends to Dante Plads via Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek

Built: 1745

Description: Two-span closed spandrel arch bridge constructed of sandstone.

Bridgehunter’s Comments: The Marble Bridge is situated at the gate to the Danish palace and given its age and ornamentation that can be seen from the neighboring bridges, it definitely deserves its place in the royalty. The bridge is perhaps the second most ornamental bridge that can be found in the city and one that is a must see if you are by bike or by foot. It can be seen from  the bridges located on both sides of the structure.  However, given its wear and tear on the roadway (despite its cobblestone roadway, it is a rather bumpy ride across the structure) and black appearance on the ornamental designs, it would not be surprising if this bridge receives a cleansing so that it lasts another 350 years. Nevertheless, the bridge deserves to be in the top 5 because of its history and aesthetic appearance and how it conforms to the cityscape Copenhagen offers.

HONORABLY MENTIONED:

Holmens Bro:  Built in 1954, this single span closed spandrel arch bridge was constructed out of granite. Yet it was built to replace the bridge that was designed by Dahlerup and built in 1878. Given the fact that the present structure compromised the historic value of its predecessor and its age, it fell into this category, even though the bridge is worth mentioning and a few photos.

St. Anna's Bridge

St. Anna’s Bridge:   Spanning one of the canals going through Christiania, this bridge is one of the most forgotten of Copenhagen’s bridges, as it was first built in 1781 and redone again in 1883 and 1924. The brick arch design with some ornamentation on the railings is a real eye-catcher to the pontist and the age of the bridge and its setting makes a person feel like walking into Copenhagen’s past- say 200 years ago or so.

Christian IV’s Bro: Built in the early 1920s, this bridge is located to the south of Marble Bridge over the Frederiksholm Canal and represents an example of a steel stringer bridge built before the war. Many of these types were built throughout Denmark during the 1920s to replace the ageing wooden spans. This one had a predecessor as it was built using piers from either an iron or wooden bridge. The bridge was named after King Christian IV, who ruled Denmark from 1588 until his death in 1648. 

Sorterendebroen Arch Bridge:  Spanning the strait connecting Sydhavn and the channel leading to the Baltic Sea, this bridge is the longest fixed structure of its kind in Copenhagen and it definitely belongs to the top 10 of the longest spans (vehicular and non-vehicular) in the city. Its closed-spandrel concrete arch design can be seen from the railroad viaduct which carries the Øresundline to the airport and eventually across the Øresund-Strait to Sweden. The road that the bridge carries runs parallel and serves as a link to the suburbs surrounding the airport. While it is unknown when the bridge was actually built, judging by its structural condition, the bridge is probably at least 50 years old.  Nevertheless, it has been serving its purpose for a long time.

Kalvebobbroen Viaduct near Copenhagen Airport

Kalvebobbroen Viaduct: This is the second longest bridge in Copenhagen, behind the Øresund-Bridge, with a length of 8 km. The bridge was completed in 1987 and serves the E20 motorway, which tangents its way along the Baltic Sea Coast connecting the Kastrup region (and the airport) and the southern suburbs of Copenhagen. The bridge represents a classic example of how Danish civil engineers love to build bridges that are tall and long. After all, they need to connect one island to another.

   Jason’s Pics for Bridges and Copenhagenization:

Bryggebroen Bike Bridge

Bryggebroen Bike Bridge

Location:  Sydhavn (part of Copenhagen Inner Harbor) between Ørestad and Vesterport behind the Fisketorvet Shopping Center

Built: 2006 by Dissing and Weitling

Dimensions: 190 meters long and 5.5 meters wide

Description: Using traditional bridge type standards, the west half is cantilever deck and the east half is a beam span built on piers. Built completely of steel.

Bridgehunter’s Remarks:  For an innovative bridge engineer there is always a first when it comes to designing fancy bridges. This one was a first: a rather fancy design that fits with the modern landscape; especially in the area where it has been recently developed for accommodation and business purposes with lucid architecture- breaking the traditional designs that many architects prefer. Yet like the buildings that are using renewable energy resources and are supposed to be carbon neutral, the bridge has a unique functionality which one cannot really expect from a non-vehicular bridge.  The bridge is segregated where one lane is explicitly made for cyclist, the other for pedestrians only. This was designed for safety purposes so that the cyclists can cross the bridge with no delays while avoiding accidents involving pedestrians at the same time. It is unimaginable seeing such a bridge serve that purpose in the US and other places where a bridge is used for everyone including pedestrians and cyclists, but given the increased usage of bicycles and the expansion of bike trails especially in cities with more than 20,000 inhabitants, a plan for a bridge like this one may be in the cards 10 years down the road.

If one counts Sydhavn as part of Copenhagen’s Inner Harbor, then this bridge was the first one built in 52 years (the Langenbro was the last bridge built in 1954), but given the increase in the number of bikes in Copenhagen, this bridge will soon have company as other bridges are in the drafting phase waiting to be erected over the next 5-10 years.

Dybbølsbro Bridges

 Dybbølsbro Bridges

Location: Spanning the rail lines in Vesterport, linking the Fisketorvet Shopping Center and Kødbyen

Description:  Consists of two viaducts- both built of concrete and steel. One is used exclusively for automobiles and buses, the other for pedestrians and cyclists Both are 240 meters long.

Bridgehunter’s Remarks: Located not far from the Bryggebroen Bike Bridge at the north entrance to Copenhagen’s largest shopping center, this viaduct provides both the motorists as well as the cyclists with easy access to Copenhagen’s train station, which is about 5-10 minutes away pending on what form of transportation you use. Normally, one will find only one bridge whose outer lanes are reserved explicitly for cyclist and pedestrians. To a certain degree, one could imagine a historic bridge (be it arch or truss) being used exclusively for pedestrians while the modernized bridge serves vehicular traffic only. This modern but unique bridge is one of the rarest forms to be seen in Copenhagen not only because of its function but the fact that the viaduct is almost 1 km long and spans railways in a ravine that is approximately 20 meters deep. This duo viaduct is located at the north end of the  Fisketorvet Shopping Center, the largest mall in the Danish capital.

Teglværk Bridge

Teglværk Bridge

Location:  Over section of Sydhavn in Frederiksborg

Built: 2011

Dimensions: 97 meters long and 12 meters wide

Description: This bridge is best compared to a glass which is filled with a third of each liquid, starting with  the heaviest and ending with the lightest- like honey, jello and a fruit drink for example- and not being able to mix them together.  From a bird’s eye view, it looks like a cable-stayed bridge whose thick cables are supported by only one steel tower.  Seeing it up close and judging it by its side and oblique views, looks like a kingpost truss bridge with riveted connections. If that was the case, then it would be the rarest bridge in the world for the bridge type has long since been out of use, and in addition to that, most kingpost truss bridges built in the US and other places in the world consisted of pinned connections. There are only a few examples of those built using riveted connections today, like the Schoenemann Park Bridge in Luverne, Minnesota and the Waddell Kingpost through truss bridge located at English Landing Park in Parkville near Kansas City. Looking at it more closely and one will find by the appearance of hydraulics on the diagonal components, that this bridge is a drawbridge, spanning a section of Copenhagen’s west harbor and accommodating traffic in the newly developed region located just to the north and west of Ørestad.

This is a brand new bridge, as it was built earlier this year  and has not appeared on any of the Google or Bing Maps as of present.  But not to worry, it will appear the next time a bird’s eye view of Copenhagen is redone.  Link: http://www.e-architect.co.uk/copenhagen/teglvaerksbroen.htm

Ørestad Footbridge

 Ørestad Footbridge

Location: Over Sydhavn west of Ørestad

Built: ca. 2008

Dimensions: Unknown

Description:  To the taste of many bridge fans, this structure does not deserve to be recognized, as it is very original and bland in color. However, one must not judge a book by its cover when it comes to this steel beam bridge. Resembling a footbridge, this structure was built using the least amount of steel possible, making a person wonder how the bridge can survive extreme weather conditions, as well as numerous residents of Ørestad using it to get to the harbor from their houses. The bridge is also difficult to access as it is blocked off on the east side and access from the western edge is difficult, forcing the person to believe that the bridge is privately owned, which it probably is. By the same token however, one can get a good side view from its neighboring bridge, the Spaellandsbroen Bridge, which runs parallel to the railway and carries traffic to Kastrup.

Dyssebroen Bridge

Location: Stadsgraven between Christianshavn and Amager in Freetown Christiania

Built: 1998

Dimensions: 30 meters long and 2 meters wide

Description:  This bridge is an example of a wooden deck truss bridge, whose design comprises of a Kingpost design and whose material used for its construction was Douglas timber. The pedestrian and bicycle bridge is a replacement of an earlier wooden beam bridge built at the beginning of the 20th Century and was used for military traffic. Plans of restoring the bridge in the 1990s was scrapped when it was revealed through the dismantling process that rot was worse than anticipated. Ax and Kelle, a team of journeymen from Germany, spent a total of 2,500 hours over the course of three months building the new structure, using the piers from the old one, and making it accessible for cyclists and pedestrians.  While the columnist could not visit the bridge, a link with a picture of the 1998 structure is found below: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyssebroen

HONORABLY MENTIONED:

Amagerbro Pedestrian Bridge–  Located over a major highway in the suburb of Amagerbro, this bridge is unique to the city of Copenhagen because of its two-sided steel arch design which tilts at a 135° angle outwards, similar to a butterfly’s wing. Completed in 2008, this pedestrian bridge has won many awards on a regional level because of its unique design, even though one will see many of these bridge types painting the European landscape. Link: https://bridgehunterschronicles.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/37001-9.jpg

The Bridges of Frederiksholm in Copenhagen

The Bridges of Frederiksholm– Known as the Danish version of Little Venice, these are a network of steel and wooden bridges connecting the apartments that exist- all over a body of water belonging to Sydhavn. While they may look bland to bridge enthusiasts, the bridges serve both pedestrians and vehicular traffic that drive in and out of one of the newest residential districts in Copenhagen- in existence since 2005.

Norreport Park Bridge

Nørreport Park Pedestrian Bridge– located at the center of the largest park in Copenhagen’s city center (located next to the train/metro station bearing the same name as the park itself), this bridge has a Town Lattice design built on steel towers and spans the center part of the lake. It is rare to see truss bridges in Denmark but even more so in Copenhagen itself as the city has at the most about 3-4 bridges of this kind overall, with the landscape consisting of beam, arch and bascule bridges. For those loving truss bridges, this 1800 structure is a beauty that is a must see while in Copenhagen. The pedestrian/ bike trail bridge is well-maintained and serves as one of the main attractions of the park.

The bridges in planning– In the next 10 years, as many as five new bridges will paint the cityscape of Copenhagen with the purpose of accommodating additional cyclists and pedestrians alike. As more people abandon the car for the bike, city planners have felt the need to make the city friendlier to these groups, while at the same time, focus on two bigger goals: make the city carbon neutral and make the city look really nice. Some of the bridges in planning include the following enclosed via links: http://www.orangesmile.com/ru/foto/top-bridges/harbor-concept-bridge-copenhagen.jpghttp://www.google.de/imgres?imgurl=http://www.inhabitat.com/wp-content/uploads/stevenhollcopenhagenbridge.jpg&imgrefurl=http://inhabitat.com/copenhagen-gateway-by-steven-holl/&usg=__FlbCQdRodbANQeC_0vH15FiGbOA=&h=336&w=537&sz=47&hl=de&start=0&zoom=1&tbnid=-xcTApw68e2EwM:&tbnh=139&tbnw=203&ei=1OmnTt1HpvnhBJ2R4CA&prev=/search%3Fq%3DBridges%2BCopenhagen%26um%3D1%26hl%3Dde%26sa%3DN%26biw%3D1152%26bih%3D773%26tbm%3Disch&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=258&vpy=160&dur=34&hovh=177&hovw=284&tx=195&ty=94&sig=111029160268588210672&page=1&ndsp=20&ved=1t:429,r:1,s:0

http://www.google.de/imgres?imgurl=http://www.metropolismag.com/pov/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Butterflybridge-open-day_zoom-1024×441.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.metropolismag.com/pov/20091023/building-bridges&usg=__N3_8lldTBewKLAfOLDSXGDhPaGg=&h=441&w=1024&sz=123&hl=de&start=40&zoom=1&tbnid=C5hr4zTuL4p6HM:&tbnh=68&tbnw=159&ei=1OmnTt1HpvnhBJ2R4CA&prev=/search%3Fq%3DBridges%2BCopenhagen%26um%3D1%26hl%3Dde%26sa%3DN%26biw%3D1152%26bih%3D773%26tbm%3Disch&um=1&itbs=1&iact=rc&dur=338&sig=111029160268588210672&page=3&ndsp=24&ved=1t:429,r:14,s:40&tx=85&ty=24

Of the above-mentioned bridges presented here that people should see while in Copenhagen, there is one structure that stands out alone and has become the new symbol of the city and region. Construction lasted 9 years and despite the high costs, the bridge brought the city (and the country) and its next door neighbor together. In the next article on the Bridges of Copenhagen, we will look at the Øresund-Bridge.

Author’s Note: Please click on the flickr website for more pictures of Copenhagen’s bridges, here.

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