Many people don’t know the fact that the city of Schwerin, with a population of 95,000 inhabitants, is the capital of the German state of Mecklenburg-Pommerania (MV). Most associate MV with its largest city, Rostock. When people see Schwerin for the first time, they mostly see at first high-rise buildings dating back to the days of Communism in East Germany. Yet after driving for 10-15 minutes, you end up seeing the city’s crown jewels: the Schwerin Castle, the Orangery and Castle Gardens and its historic city center.
Much of this historic old town dates back to the time the castle was built, which was between 1845 and 1857. Historic buildings, churches and even bridges followed over the next half century. Schwerin survived largely unscathed during the two World Wars, yet the city became a hub for political prisoners during the 41 years of East German rule, as the castle became a prison complex. After the Fall of the Wall and its subsequent German Reunification, Schwerin became the capital of MV (again) and since 1994, the Castle has been the seat of the state government, while most of the state’s ministries are in the historic buildings that are only a few minutes walk away.
From a pontist’s point of view, there are two known bridges that one can afiliate with Schwerin; namely the Schlossbrücke and the Swing Bridge. The Schlossbrücke (in the photo above) was built in 1844 and connects the castle with the historic old town. The Swing Bridge (in the photo below), was built in 1897 and connects the castle with the castle gardens.
Both are considered the most ornamental of the bridges in Schwerin because of their railings and lighting. When looking further, though, there are more bridges than these two and they have just as much aesthetic taste as the two aforementioned structures. They include the skyway bridge connecting the State Chencellory Office with the Ministry Offices- a three-span arch bridge with ornamental features. At the Castle Gardens, there’s an unusual through beam bridge with steel panels running horizontally across the path. It’s one of the most modern of structures but also a unique one in itself.
Then there are the iron arch bridges. There are seven identical spans spanning three canals, which can be found in the Castle Gardens. They were built no later than 1890 and each have a dimension of 10-15 meters long, and up to two meters wide. Both the decking and the railings are arched.
While the railings are trussed with a Howe design, both the railings and the arch spandrels are both covered with ornamental designs, where flower-shapes can be found where the diagonal beams meet; a rose-shaped design in the circle-shaped spandrels. The endposts are vertical and bedstead, with pine cone-shaped finials on top. As mentioned in a recent Pic of the Week article, it is unknown who was behind the design and when exactly it was built, except it was at least 120 years ago because of their age and appearance. Nevertheless, it was a surprise to find seven of these spans throughout the park.
And to round off the tour, we have the lone wooden truss design in the Knuppeldamm Bridge. Built over two decades ago, the 15m span features a Howe Lattice truss span. It can be found at the entrance to Lake Schwerin as a canal empties into the body of water. Sadly, damage to the trusses has resulted in the city council’s decision to replace the span with a replica of the bridge. The damage and discussion on the causes can be found here.
Despite having written a few Pic of the Week articles on individual spans in Schwerin, there are 13 historic and unique bridges in Schwerin to visit, in addition to checking out the Castle and the historic old town. All of them are within 10 minutes walk and within the 500 meter radius of the Castle itself. Therefore, I’ve compiled a bridge tour guide, featuring photos and information on all 13 bridges for you to look at and plan to visit on your next stop in Schwerin. Unfortunately, the new wordpress format has made embedding the maps via Google impossible. Therefore, you should click on the link below. It will take you to the Map of Schwerin and the points where you can find the bridges.
If there is one item to describe the City of Schwerin it is this: It’s a jewel hidden in a pile of concrete. It takes a few minutes to get to the castle and the historic old town. Yet when you reach them and spend a day there, you will not regret the visit. There is a lot to see and do in Schwerin, and if you are a pontist or a person interested in history, there are plenty of bridges to see. From what I saw, they are more beautiful and are better an accessory to the Castle and gardens than you think.