The Bridges of St. Petersburg, Russia: Your Guide to the 390+ Bridges

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Photos courtesy of Sylvia Quandt

Located at the crossroads between Europe and Russia, St. Petersburg, with a population of over 5.2 million inhabitants and situated in northwestern Russia at the tip of the Golf of Finnland, has had a colorful history- both good and bad- not only in terms of its political history but also in terms of architecture. The city was founded in 1703 as a key port, during the time of Peter the Great. However, it has been a center of international conflicts and culture, for on the one hand, the city was renamed Petrograd and Leningrad during the Soviet Era and had survived an 872-day siege by the Nazis from 1941 until the beginning of 1944. After 1991 when the city was renamed St. Petersburg, it became the cultural capital of Russia and later Europe. Prior to 1918, St. Petersburg had been the capital of Russia, yet at the time of the Bolschevik Revolution and the overthrow of the Czar Nicolas and the Romanov family, the government was relocated to Moscow, which has remained that way ever since.  St. Petersburg has several celebrities that were born there, which included Georg Cantor, Ayn Rand, Boris Spassky, Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin, Russia’s current and longest (non-consecutive) serving president since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

But St. Petersburg also has a colorful assortment of bridges, both past and present, that serve the city and its metropolitan area. While many of them span the River Neva, others span smaller tributaries and ravines, making the number of bridges at over 390. This is on par with the number of river and tributary bridges in London, Paris, Pittsburgh and Frankfurt, yet they are a fourth of the number of bridges one can see in metropolises like Hamburg, Berlin and Copenhagen, just to name a few.

During a vacation trip with her husband in October 2017, Sylvia Quandt from the Saxony Police Academy based in Leipzig, Germany, had a chance to get a good fraction of the bridges while on boat, bike or foot. However, other media resources have produced a comprehensive guide to the bridges, at least the most important  that people should visit. Henceforth, like in the tour guide on the bridges in Duluth, this tour guide features multiple links to the bridges in St. Petersburg that people should visit during their stay there. Many of the bridges date as far back as the time of the city’s founding, yet there are many bridges built recently, whose modern taste may appeal the potential legend bridge builder- the future Modjeski, King, Strauss and Ammann. 🙂

You’ll find the links with the details and pictures of the bridges after scrolling past a couple links. Enjoy and don’t forget: a true pontist would plan the first couple days with historic bridges before visiting the rest of the city and its heritage. 😉

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Links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_bridges_in_Saint_Petersburg

https://www.ourworldforyou.com/bridges-waterways-st-petersburg-russia/

https://www.inyourpocket.com/st-petersburg-en/Bridges-of-St.-Petersburg_70590f?&page=2

 

 

 

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Book Project on Schleswig-Holstein’s Bridges Underway: Now Accepting Information, Photos and Stories

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Rendsburg High Bridge spanning the Baltic-North Sea Canal. Photo taken in 2011

Touted by many to be the most beautiful state in Germany, Schleswig-Holstein offers a mixture of landscapes and climates to attract the vacationer wishing to escape the city life. It is sandwiched by two different seas- the North Sea in the west and the Baltic Sea in the east, each offering different forms of flora and fauna as well as Schietwetter (storms producing high winds, torrential downpours and high tides). The Baltic-North Sea Canal, connecting the state capital of Kiel with Brunsbüttel via Rendsburg slices the state into two, even though the 1895 canal replaced a 1700s canal that complimented the longest river in the state, the Eider. That river starts near Kiel and ends in the North Sea, but not before passing through bridge-laden towns of Rendsburg, Friedrichstadt and Tönning, while at the same time, connecting with the rivers Treene and Sorge.

The hills east of Kiel and in the Seegeberg region provides a great backdrop for photographers wishing to get some pictures of scenery along the river Schwentine, which also gets its additional water from the lakes region near Plön and Eutin, located between Kiel and Lübeck. At the same time, the state is bordered to the south and east by two major waterways: the Elbe to the south and the 80 kilometer long Lauenburg-Lübeck Canal to the east. From Lübeck going north into Denmark, the state receives additional water from the Baltic Sea in the form of fjords, found in Kiel, the Schlei region and Flensburg. The western half is characterized by flat plains with gullies and diversion canals to channel water and protect farmlands and beaches from flooding.

 

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Stone Arch Bridge in Friedrichstadt: the oldest in the Dutch community at 240+ years. Photo taken in August 2017

With all this water, one needs to cross it- by bridge!

 

Many books have been written about the history of places in Schleswig-Holstein and the different regions full of natural habitats and historic places of interest. There are enough books on light houses (including the famous Westerhever), windmills (like the ones in the Dithmarschen, Schleswig and Ostholstein districts), and holiday resorts (like St. Peter-Ording, Travemünde and Fehmarn) to fill up a library section, just with those alone. There is even a book on the Faces of Flensburg, focusing on the people who made the former rum capital and key port famous, including the founder of the adult entertainment store, Beate Uhse, who opened the world’s first store of this type in 1962.

 

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Bridge of Friendship at the German-Danish border north of Flensburg. Photo taken in 2010

Yet with many bridges in Schleswig-Holstein- many of which have histories going back over 100 years, only two books have been written about this topic: one on the bridges along the Baltic-North Sea Canal, one on the dual draw bridge north of Lübeck (which no longer exists). The most recent book, published last year, commemorated the centennial of the two-span arch bridge in Friedrichstadt, whose drawbridge span allows for passage along the Eider.  Not even a book on the Fehmarn Bridge, the world’s first basket-handle tied arch bridge has been written.

 

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White Draw Bridge in Tönning

This leads us to the question of why we’ve neglected to write about the other bridges in the state.

 

Since 2011, I’ve been photographing and writing about some of the bridges in the state, which includes the cities of Kiel, Flensburg, Lübeck and Friedrichstadt as well as the bridges along the Baltic-North Sea Canal, wondering what they looked like a century before, how they were built and who built them. In addition, research is being undertaken to find out what other bridges exist in the present, had existed before getting replaced by modern structures and who were behind the building of the bridges. Even more interesting is the role of bridge engineers in Schleswig-Holstein, as the state imported many famous ones, like Friedrich Voss and Hermann Muthesius but exported just as many to other regions in Germany, Europe and even the United States. Lawrence H. Johnson was one of those who made his mark both as a bridge builder and a politician- in the state of Minnesota!

 

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One of many pedestrian crossings over the gullies and canals at Westerhever Lighthouse

With as much work put in as possible, the decision has been made to write a book on the bridges in Schleswig-Holstein. This five-year project will focus on the bridges, past and present, which has shaped the state and its infrastructure, while at the same time, fostered tourism, business and commerce, especially over the last 150+ years. At the same time, however, we will look at the engineers who left their mark in the state while those, who originated from S-H, emigrated to other places to leave their legacies.  The work will be written in three languages: German, English and Danish, reflecting on the languages of the residents and those who are interested in reading this piece and visiting the sites.

 

I’m looking for the following in order to complete this book project:

 

  1. Old photos, postcards and information on the bridges in Schleswig-Holstein, especially including the previous crossings (those that were replaced with today’s modern structures) and ones that no longer exists. This includes bridges in towns and cities as well as along the rivers: Stör, Eider, Sorge, Trave, Aarau, Treene and Schwentine, and also those along the canals: Alte Eider, Lauenburg-Lübeck and Gieselau.

 

  1. Stories about the bridges in Schleswig-Holstein that are memorable and worth mentioning in the book. Already mentioned in the book on the Eider Bridge in Friedrichstadt, sometimes stories and memories about the bridge makes the crossing one worth remembering.

 

  1. Information on the bridge engineers in Schleswig-Holstein who left their mark in bridge building, apart from Friedrich Voss as well as those who originated from the state that left their mark elsewhere, like Lawrence H. Johnson.

 

  1. As the book will feature the Danish version, I’m looking for a Danish translator, preferably either a native speaker or one who has mastered the language (as the Germans would say, Sicher in Wort und Schrift)

 

If you have any information that will be of use for the book or would like to support the book project in anyway, shape or form, please use the contact form below and send me a line. You can also contact the Chronicles via facebook by using its messenger on its page. Additional contact information is available by request.

 

 

Please feel free to pass this information around to anyone who wants to contribute, as this is open to not only bridge experts and enthusiasts, but also locals and people who either have knowledge of the bridges in Schleswig-Holstein, are willing to help out or both.

 

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An 1800s arch bridge spanning the River Schwentine in Kiel

With many key bridges out there (going beyond the ones that I’ve profiled), and many historic bridges being replaced with modern ones, whose lifespans are half of that of their predecessors, it is time to bring them to light. Because after all, they have just as much value to Schleswig-Holstein as the other key features the state has to offer. One has to click on the highlighted names in this article and look at the offer of books for sale at a local book store or via amazon to find out how important these structures are for the development of the state that prides itself on sailing, shipping, handball, sheep, windmills, farming, Sauerfleisch, rum, roasted potatoes, beer, Schietwetter and the famous greeting of “Moin moin!”

 

Stay tuned for some articles to be posted on some bridges in the Eiderstedt region, where the author vacationed for a couple weeks.

 

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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:

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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.

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Lindaunis/ Schlei Drawbridge

Panoramic view of the bridge- Photo taken in April 2011

Schleswig-Holstein has a lot of opportunities for tourists wanting to spend a few days there, regardless of where and what interests they have. The land is almost a peninsula, with the Baltic Sea lining up along the eastern end of the state, the North Sea along the western edge. And then there is the isthmus located at Flensburg which is about 60 kilometers wide and connects the state with neighboring Denmark. While much of the region is flat, the state is known for its lakes; among them is a chain of lakes, stretching about 45 kilometers from its starting point in Schleswig until it empties into the Baltic Sea between Kappeln and Eckerfoerde. Each of the seven lakes is connected by a strait, but there are only a total of three crossings one can choose.

The Lindaunis/ Schlei Drawbridge is one of the crossings that is worth a visit; if one chooses to spend an hour that is. The bridge is located over the Schlei Strait at the village of Lindaunis, located on the north end of the strait. It carries a local street connecting Lindaunis with neighboring Riesby as well as the railline connecting Flensburg and Kiel via Eckerfoerde. Since the railway station no longer exists- the building now houses a restaurant overlooking the chain of lakes- one has to get off at the nearest station, which is Riesby- located about 7 kilometers south of the bridge- and then backtrack along the main road until reaching the destination. Not to worry though, the way to the bridge has been marked so that no one gets lost.

The bridge consists of two spans- a Warren through truss bridge with riveted connections and an arch-shaped portal bracing, and a bascule span, which is commonly known as a draw bridge. The draw bridge, also built of a Warren truss design but has no overhead bracing, opens in a single leaf form, which means that the entire span is lifted to a vertical 80° angle to allow sailboats, yachts, and other boats to pass through the crossing. The bridge was an example of an SKR Bridge, a standardized railroad bridge that was developed by German civil engineer, Gottwalt Schaper, who worked for Krupp Steel (now Thuysen-Krupp) as well as the minister of transportation from 1919 until his death in 1942. The initials stood for Schaper, Krupp, and Reichsbahn (the name of the railroad in Germany during his lifetime). This structure was an early example of the SKR design that was used at the time of its completion in 1927. However it was later used both as temporary bridges as well as permanent railroad crossings after World War II, when most of the country’s bridges were destroyed- either through bombings by Allied troops or by the Nazis who detonated them in an attempt to stave off the advancing troops- and the crossings were needed as part of the reconstruction process.

Lindaunis Bridge- portal view and with the drawbridge open for boat traffic; Photo taken in April 2011

The bridge still functions today just like it did when it was open in 1927. The bridge has one land which is shared by both car and rail traffic. This is regulated through traffic signals, where one lane is allowed to use it at a time. The bascule span is opened every hour at 15 minutes before the hour and stays open for approximately 15 minutes to allow for boat traffic to pass through it. Pending on the season, the draw bridge operates from dawn to dusk and is controlled by an operator, whose tenant’s office is on the north end of the draw bridge span. While the drawbridge originally functioned on the use of chains, it was later replaced with hydraulics in 1975. As part of the plan to renovate the bridge beginning in 2012, a new electronic system will be installed at the tenant’s station to ensure that the span functions efficiently and with no complications.

The drawbridge span. Photo taken in April 2011

Since 1997, the bridge has been listed as culturally and technically significant because of its unique design and its early example of the SKR truss that was used at the time of its construction. This means the bridge is protected by law (Denkmalschutzgesetz) and that no alteration to the structure is to be made. Should the bridge sustain any damage and must be reconstructed, then it must be done exactly the way it was before the mishap. The Lindaunis is the oldest bridge still in operation in the state and attempts are being made to ensure that the bridge will continue to function within the next 40-50 years. Like in many towns and villages in Germany and elsewhere, the village of Lindaunis is touting its success around this unique piece of infrastructural wonder through its restaurant located in the old station near the bridge and providing tourists with a glimpse of the bridge and how it works. From a pontist’s point of view, it may be difficult to make that 7km journey from Riesby to Lindaunis by bike, but in the end, the journey is worth the effort as one can see the bridge, not only in terms of its beauty but also in its functionality as a truss bridge with a bascule span. When both go together and the bascule span opens to boat traffic, one can simply awe in the landscape as each boat glides along the Schlei and the bridge remains in an open position until the last boat goes through and the span closes for the cars and trains to use.

After this bridge, the next stop will be a pair of bridges in the capital of Kiel- one of which represents a unique example of a movable bridge that will raise the eyebrows of many engineers.

Links:

http://www.wesselhoeft.net/Schlei-Info/Info.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lindaunis_Bridge

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gottwalt_Schaper

http://www.kappeln-eschmidt.de/seiten/2005_10_28-2/2005_10_28-2.htm