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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
King Albert Bridge (a.k.a. Lower Mulde Bridge)
When traveling west on Auer Strasse in the direction of Gesau, you will not recognize the bridge after you cross it, going past the beverage store Getränkewelt on the left side. If anything, it is just a typical beam bridge with railings, that’s all. You will also not recognize its historic appearance unless you do one of the following:
1. Pull into the parking lot of the beverage store, go into the Mulde, swim underneath the bridge and get a shot on the opposite end (as the front side has another bridge carrying a pipeline over it.
Cross the street onto the flower bed of a nearby proprietor, walk the line along the curb bordering the flower bed (without stepping into it) and get an oblique shot from the building.
Being dressed in a suit with no SCUBA equipment for a special occasion, I elected the second option, even though it would have been funny and interesting to try the first option.
But the photo opportunity is well worth it.
The current structure, built in 1955, is a single-span stone arch bridge, carrying a concrete decking. Given the scarcity of materials needed for bridge building because of the after-effects of World War II combined with the Soviet occupation of the eastern half of Germany, many of the new structures were constructed using concrete and/or with minimal quality and using either beam or truss structures. This bridge was probably built using stone bricks that originated from the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge) and was cut on site to fit the structure that is 35 meters long and 25 meters wide.
Its predecessor however consisted of a Parker through truss bridge built in 1888 and was, according to local historical accounts, one of a few Glauchau bridges built by Heinrich Carl Hedrich. The bridge featured riveted connections among the trusses, v-lacing on its overhead bracing and upper chords and a vertical endposts. Also included were ornametal lampposts on both ends of the bridge, featuring spirals and spherical shapes with an oval-shaped glass cover for lighting.
The bridge’s original wood decking was replaced in 1927 with a combination of concrete and brick to accommodate increasing traffic loads. 11 years later, a new coating of paint was needed, which kept the bridge from rusting and thus prolonging its lifespan. Sadly, even though the bridge survived two World Wars, it was closed to traffic in 1954 because of rust and corrosion on the trusses, including the lower chord. At the same time, plans for a new bridge commenced, which was realized one year later.
The King Albert Bridge, named after the King of Saxony who was also the member of the House of Wettin, may be just a typical bridge for the City of Glauchau, yet never judge it by its appearance just by crossing it. The treasure can be found in the water, whose historic value will make the writer and historian think twice before writing it off as a typical piece of concrete over a body of water.
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 system running through the community, providing drinking water to the households, while also channeling water away from the Zwickauer Mulde. 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 awarded 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.
Meeraner Strasse (Upper Mulder ) Bridge
The Meerane Strasse is one of two major streets that have bridges crossing the Mulde River and its diversion arm (Flutgraben). This bridge is located at the junction with Lindenstrasse and by first glance, one will see a typical 90s style concrete deck girder with vertical lining and orange railings. A rather bland structure unless you have a quick blick at the abutments of an older bridge on the right hand side going west towards the Flutgraben crossing. That bridge had a history of its own as it was a steel pony girder bridge with Town Lattice truss features. Ithel Town created this unique truss design in 1820 that consisted of interwoven diagonal beams. This truss type was common on many wooden covered bridges in the United States, but also among many metal truss bridges in Europe, especially those carrying rail traffic.
The Meerane Bridge was constructed back in the 1880s and was claimed by historic resources to have been built by Heinrich Carl Hedrich. Yet the exact date of construction remains unknown. It is known that the structure, which was about 35 meters long and 15 meters wide, was replaced at the time of the Fall of the Berlin Wall because of age and structural deterioration. A concrete bridge was built alongside the old structure, thus allowing for the continuation of traffic between Glauchau and Meerane on the old one. After traffic was diverted onto the new structure, the old one was removed and scrapped.
THE THREE BRIDGES TO THE “HOLY LAND”
While Glauchau has eight bridges and a dam spanning the Mulde and its diversion canal Flutgraben, one unique feature that makes the city special are the bridges on the hill leading to its historic city center and castles. Dubbed as the Bridges to the Holy Land, each of the three spans consist of arch bridges crossing deep gorges that serve as drainage to the Mulde. Each of the gorges are approximately 20-25 meters deep. From the flood bed of the Mulde, the height of the bridges is approximately 75 meters high, and given the fact that Glauchau was once a walled city and it has a strong religious core- laden with a variety of denominations- one could christen the name of the bridges along Otto-Schimmel-Strasse and Leipziger Strasse between the train station and the castles “The Three Bridges to the Holy Land,” named after the Three Wise Men who brought Baby Jesus gifts and blessed Him on what it today called Day of Epiphany (January 6th). Yet that interpretation would be a bit far-fetched if one is either a non-denominational or an atheist.
Even though one of the arch bridges no longer exists (Nicolas Tower and Bridge), all three bridges still serve it purpose of serving traffic and providing commerce to the city center. We will look at all three bridges going towards that “Holy Land”, beginning with the youngest and longest of the three.
Spanning Talstrasse at Otto-Schimmel-Strasse and Leipziger Strasse, the Scherberg 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. A shield representing the City of Glauchau can be seen on the east end on the right of the main arch span. Construction started in 1921, and despite two harsh winters, combined with a lack of personnel and high inflation upping the cost for the bridge because of the aftereffects of World War I and the Marseilles Treaty respectively, the bridge was dedicated on 29 April, 1923. The bridge was deemed a necessity because of the need to connect the city center and the train station, which was completed three years after the bridge opened. Prior to the bridge, accessing the city center was as difficult as Moses climbing the Mountain to meet God and receive the 10 Commandments. Delivery with horse and buggy had to be made by zigzagging up several streets and dealing with gorges and other obstacles. The plan for the bridge had been created in 1909 but work never commenced because of the war, plus hefty discussions regarding the necessity of the bridge. Despite all the aforemetioned adversities affecting Glauchau, the city mayor Otto Schimmel had the final word in favor of the bridge, which has a total length of 97 meters (the main span is 35 meters), 14 meters wide and 28 feet above Talstrasse. The bridge was rehabilitated in 2011, which included repairs to the structure, new decking and lighting and new paint- especially with the shield. The bridge may look just like new, but the 94-year old structure is one of the symbols that represent the city of Glauchau. The Scherberg Bridge serves 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.
Gottessackbrücke (a.k.a. Postbrücke)
The next bridge along the Road to the Holy Land is the Postbrücke. Spanning another gorge (which is accompanied with a path down to the residential area) carrying Leipziger Strasse, this masonry stone arch bridge is the shortest of the three bridges, having a span of 15 meters and a width of 12 meters. Built in 1887, it is located next to the historic post office, which had existed much longer than the bridge itself. Apart from some minor structural work on the bridge, the Postbrücke has maintained its historic integrity, while serving traffic between the city center and the district of Gottessack (God’s Sack), north of the structure. The area features several historic, but empty buildings that are ripe for restoration and reuse, making Glauchau even better than it is now.
Nicolas Tower and Bridge
The last bridge going to the city center is the Nicolas Tower and Bridge. While no date has been pinpointed to the bridge, it was believed to have been just as old as the tower itself. The Nicolas Tower served as the main entrance to the city center, which had once been walled on all sides, with watch towers and the castles that were included. It is safe to say that the entrance to the walled town was through the Hintere Schlossbrücke on the south side (still extant) and the Nicolas Tower and Bridge on the north side. While the tower may have been built during the Medieval era as part of the project to make Glauchau a walled city, records indicated that the tower was rebuilt from the ground up in 1741. It featured a living quarters above the gate, where the watchman and his family lived, and was later decorated with a church bell by the Lord Albert Christian Ernst in 1758. A clock was later added to the gate. Because of its narrowness combined with the increase in traffic and damage caused by lightning and high winds, the tower was replaced in 1890, but the bridge itself remained in service until 1965. A mural depicting the tower can be seen at the site where it once stood as you cross the bridge, yet a mini-replica can be found in the city museum.
The Nicolas Bridge featured two different arch bridges- one made of concrete and one made of brick, whereas the former may date back to the time of the castle and the brick span was later added in the early 1800s. The bridge also featured a series of steps to encourage people walking along the path along the creek to use it to go to the bridge and the city center. Sadly, due to structural damage caused by bombings in World War II and later deterioration because of the increase in automobile traffic, the bridges had to be demolished in 1965. The older arch was first removed, followed by the other arch as soon as the replacement structure was in place and opened to traffic. It is hard to believe that, despite looking like a bridge built in the 1990s, today’s structure is 52 years old. But part of that was because of the rehabilitation work done in 2003-4 to keep the 33.3 meter long bridge open to traffic. Its width of 19.6 meters include 6.1 meters for pedestrians, and its height of 9 meters above the gorge provides viewers with a glimpse of the gorge and the valley of the Mulde, filled with houses and green landscape. The bridge provides good commerce as many stores line up along the street between the bridge and the Postbrücke, but also towards the city center.
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.
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. 🙂
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 17th 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. However, planning is in the works to rehabilitate and restore the bridge to its original form, which is scheduled to start in July 2018 and expected to take 1-2 years to complete. After 40 years of neglect, the bridge will be reopened again, connecting the castle complex with the park.
Fordere and Hintere Glauchau Castle Bridges:
There are as many bridges at the Castle Complex in Glauchau as the number of castles itself. If counting the Hirschgrund Viaduct, a total of six bridges serve the the two castles that are jointly connected. There are two stone arch bridges that are 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, and with that, there are three bridges- two connecting the two castles and one connecting the castle with the inner courtyard. The viaduct connected the castle complex and the park and was built last, having been completed in the 17th Century. All in all, the crossings served their purpose of allowing people to enter and exit the castles without having to worry about drawbridges over moats or even trying to ford the crossing. The crossings at Fordere Castle 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. 🙂 The crossings at Hintere Castle are inter-connected with the one to the courtyard being 25 meters away from the two enclosed ones, yet the latter provides a good view of the viaduct and the park. 🙂 The Castle Complex is still open for tourists and hosts several events, however changes are being made to make the complex more attractive. And with that the bridges will continue to serve the castle, just like in the Baroque Times.
Hintere Glauchau Bridges:
Also noteworthy of the tour in Glauchau are the crossings along the Flutgraben. The diversion canal bypasses the city on the west side, extending from the north end east of Jerisau Bridge down south to the Glauchau Reservoir, a distance of six river kilometers. And while there are four crossings that are either as long or longer than the Scherberg Bridge, there is a sad history that is in connection with the Flutgraben. On 31 July, 1858, high water from the Mulde devastated much of the residential areas in Glauchau, causing enough damage to make the houses and apartments unliveable. It was afterwards that the city decided to construct a diversion canal, bypassing Glauchau to the west to alleviate the flow of water in the event of the flooding. Construction lasted until 1890 but not before having removed as many as seven dozen houses, buildings and other properties- many of them were empty or unliveable. The width of the canal is the same as the river itself, yet the flood plain is four times as wide as the canal, and with a depth of 3-4 meters, it would accomodate unusually high flows of water.
Four bridges span the Flutgraben, including the railroad bridge that carries both the Dresden-Hof-Nuremberg Magistrate and the Glauchau-Jena-Erfurt rail line. The Nordufer Bridge at Auer Strasse is the oldest remaining bridge along the canal, while the Meerane and Jerisau Bridges were built in the late 1990s and still accomodate major traffic in and out of Glauchau. Additionally, a dam at the Reservoir, dating back to the 1930s is still in use to control the flow of water from the Mulde. Here is a brief summary of each one:
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. The structure carries Hwy. 175 which connects Glauchau with Zwickau.
Located over the Flutgraben at the junction of Meeraner Strasse and Sachsenallee, this bridge was one of the first to have been built at this location after the diversion canal was built. After the Flood of 1858, the city council decided to construct the canal to divert water away from Glauchau, despite successful attempts by Heinrich Hedrich to construct the first drainage system in Germany serving the city. A wooden bridge was built to cross the area where the canal was being built, yet was replaced with a steel trestle at the conclusion of the canal project in 1890. The bridge featured a Bedstead Pratt pony truss bridge divided into three spans. That bridge was later replaced with a concrete girder bridge in 1949, which was later replaced with its current structure some 50 years later. The cantilever deck bridge continues to serve traffic to Gesau and Meerane to the west and is located next to the sports complex where the soccer team Empor Glauchau has its headquarters. The bridge used to be called the Orphanage Bridge as there was an orphanage located near the site where the diversion canal was located. Built in 1859, the facility housed orphans for 150 years.
Spanning the Flutgraben at the junction of Waldeburger Strasse and Hochuferstrasse (B-175 Bypass), this bridge connects Glauchau’s northern industrial district with the suburb Jerisau. Before the bypass was built, the bridge carried Highway B-175 through Jerisau enroute to Waldenburg, seven kilometers northeast of Glauchau. The Bypass was built to alleviate traffic and to provide better access to the Autobahn 4. The present bridge, a concrete cantilever span, was built in 1998, with a length of 97 meters- 15 more than its predecessor, a five-span concrete beam bridge built in 1949. This bridge may have followed the footsteps of the Meerane Bridge in terms of the types of bridges that had been built and replaced since the diversion canal was built in 1890.
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, sources indicated that a previous dam was built in the early 1930s, possibly replacing an even earlier one. 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.
South Dam and Bridge:
Located over the Mulde at Wehrstrasse, west of Grundelteich, this bridge is one of the oldest in Glauchau, having been built in the late 1890s. 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.
The Wave (Wernsdorfer Welle):
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 Free Press 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. Despite delays in finishing the project, due to unfavorable weather conditions and the construction of a new bike path connecting the structure with the sports complex, the bridge was dedicated to recreational traffic on 20 June, 2017. Currently, The Wave serves bikers, equestrians and walkers and is part of the Mulde Bike Trail network again, re-establishing a link between Glauchau, Wernsdorf and neighboring villages to the south.
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:
The author would like to thank the City of Glauchau and its office of planning, Ulrich Schleife and the crew at Glauchau-City for their contribution to this tour guide. Without your help, we would not have found out more about the city’s bridges than what I discovered as a photographer and pontist. May God bless you for your help. 🙂
Located along the River White Elster in eastern Saxony-Anhalt, the city of Zeitz, with ist population of 29,000 inhabitants, represents one oft he dying cities in the former East Germany. High unemployment, empty buildings, abandoned industries and a crumbling infrastructure, combined with historic buildings dating back to the 1800s that are sitting empty are what a person can see when passing through the city. Most of its main traffic has been diverted away from the city, and the only rail service in Zeitz are the lines connecting the city with Weissenfels, Gera and Leipzig- all privately owned and localized.
Yet the city scape of Zeitz has, for the most part been in tact, thus making it the venue for many films produced that require an East German scene or story. Despite their emptiness, many historic buildings in the city center are worth visiting and perhaps occupying with businesses and housing. Even the Moritzburg Castle and the nearby mills and churches, built during the Baroque period, still entertain guests because of their charm. You can also try the local wine from the vineyards located along the rugged Elster Bike Trail.
And then, there are the historic bridges.
At least a dozen bridges exist along the White Elster within a 10 km radius of the city, six of which can be found directly in Zeitz. Two thirds of them are at least 70 years of age or older. Yet all but two of them have been mentioned in the history books or by the International Structure Database in Berlin (structurae.net) which is part of the Wiley and Sons Publishing Conglomerate. While much of the records have disappeared because of World War II and later the Socialist regime, the structures profiled here are unique in its design and historic value. Most of the bridges are arches, but there are a couple girders and trusses that are worth mentioning as well. Each one lacks the most basic in terms of the date of the builders, their dimensions and for the most part, the stories behind them and their affiliation with the communities and castles they serve. Henceforth, this tour will profile each of the bridges in and around the Zeitz area, starting with the bridges near Crossen to the south and ending at Elsterau to the north. All but three of the bridges profiled in this tour guide are along the Elster. One of the bridges, the Moritzburg Pavillion Bridge, has already been profiled separately in a Mystery Bridge article and will therefore be omitted from this article. A link to this bridge can be found here.
We’ll start off with the first of two bridges in the village of Crossen, both of which can be reached by bike:
Rauda Bridge at Crossen:
This bridge spans Rauda Creek, approximately a half kilometer south of the White Elster crossing. The bridge is approximately 15 meters long and six meters wide, good enough for a bike trail. The bridge is a stone arch design that probably dates back to the 1800s, when it was used for horse and buggy, serving a trail between Crossen and Silbitz. Later it was used for farm vehicles, but as the fields nearby are located in the flood plain of the Elste were therefore rendered useless, the trail was eventually converted into the bike trail connecting Crossen and Gera to the south. The bridge still remains in great condition despite its age and is a great place to stop for a picnic or even good photo opportunity, as seen with this photo.
Spanning the Elster River, the Crossen Bridge features a deck arch bridge made of brick and concrete, and features seven arch spans totalling 130 meters long. The longest arch span (the center span) is approximately 30 meters long. The bridge’s spandrel is all made of concrete, whereby the arches were built of brick. While the bridge has been renovated as recently as 10 years ago, the date of the original construction of the bridge goes back to between 1900 and 1920. Records indicated that an attempt to implode the structure by the Nazis in 1945 in an attempt to stop the march of the Soviet troops only for the local residents to splice the wiring to the bombs in order to sabotage their attempts. The Nazis surrendered on 7 May, 1945 but not before their leader Adolf Hitler and many of his close friends committed suicide in order to avoid prosecution by the Allies. The bridge continued to be in service until recent renovations where sidewalks were added and the roadway was narrowed. Today, the bridge provides only one-way traffic controlled by traffic lights on each end. Yet it has no load limits, thus allowing for all kinds of traffic to cross, as seen in the photos below:
Spanning the White Elster on the road going to Haynsburg Castle to the east, this bridge features five arch spans totalling approximately 200 meters, the longest center arch span is around 50 meters. That span is flanked with two door-like openings on each corner, embedded into the piers, resembling an embedded pavillion on each corner. It is unknown what the original atructure looked like before World War II, but the date of construction goes back to 1911, according to local records. The bridge is one of three works of art one should see while in Haynsburg. The castle is three kilometers up the hill from the bridge. A train station along the rail line between Leipzig and Gera has a decorative lounge, even though trains no longer stop there. Haynsburg itself was a target of a witch hunt, for in 1624, one of the residents was burned at the stake for witchcraft. Since 2010, Haynsburg is part of a local conglomerate that includes two other villages. The town is only a handful that has witnessed steady population growth for it has 580 inhabitants. The bridge itself will be rehabilitated come 2018 with the purpse of improving its load capacity and its aesthetic value.
Spanning the White Elster River, this pedestrian bridge connects the train station with the park complex along the river next to the city center in Zeitz. While travelling along the river along the Elster Bike Trail, this bridge is one of the two most visible structures near the vicinity of the train station. The bridge has a bedstead Pratt pony truss with welded connections. Judging by its aesthetic appearance, the structure appears to be at least 10 years old but no older than 20. It is unknown whether a previous structure had occurred there but because of the prescence of the pavillion across the river from the station, it may be possible that a structure had existed beforehand, but was either destroyed during World War II and was not rebuilt before 1990 or it fell into disarray during the socialist regime and was consequentially removed. But more information is needed to determine whether a previous structure existed prior to this one.
Untere Promenade Bridge:
Located over the Mühlgraben Creek at the confluence with the White Elster, this bridge is located right next to the aforementioned Moritzburg Pavillion Bridge. The bridge serves the Elster Bike Trail but it is unknown when the bridge was built. It would be unusual to have a bridge exist alongside the pavillion bridge for a long period of time, so one must assume the bridge was built after World War II, especially because of the ballustrades that were remodelled. Yet more information is needed to determine whether the bridge was built in modern times to replace the pavillion bridge or if it was built at about the same time, especially as arch bridges were very common up until 1915. The author’s prediction is that the bridge was built to mimick the pavillion bridge in the 1950s or 60s to accomodate a trail running alongside the river. In either case, both bridges retain a high degree of historic and aesthetical value that it is worth stopping to photograph.
Geschwister Scholl Brücke
This is perhaps the most ornamental of the bridges along the White Elster River between Gera and Leipzig, for the 250 meter long seven-span concrete arch bridge provides the best access from the train station to Moritzburg Castle by car. The bridge has stone keystones and seal engravings above the piers. Its ballustrades are similar to the Untere Promenade Bridge and were redone most recently (10-15 years ago). Finials can be found on both ends of the bridge, but more unique and unusual is the lighting on the bridge- only one pair of lanterns are located at the very center of the span, but built on cast iron poles with a unique ornamental design.
Judging by the age of the bridge, it appears to have been built between 1890 and 1915, yet when looking more closely at the structure ‘s center span in comparison with the outer ones, the bridge appeared to have been rebuilt after the war, as the Nazis blew up the center span in an attempt to slow the advancement of Soviet troops. The bridge and street itself were named in honor of Sophie and Frank Scholl, siblings who led the White Rose movement, a group whose purpose was to create an uprising against the Hitler regime. They were arrested and executed in 1944, along with dozens of other members of the movement. Yet the Nazi government ceased to exist with Germany’s surrender on 7 May, 1945. Hitler committed suicide a week prior to the fall.
Tiergarten Pedestrian Bridge
Spanning the White Elster east of town, the Tiergarten Pedestrian Bridge is one of the most unique of spans, as the bridge features two Howe spans meeting in the middle. The center of each Howe span is supported by one steel pier but the outer ends are anchored by concrete piers. The truss itself has bedstead end posts and features welded connections. Lighting illuminates the bridge. The bridge appears to be one of the younger spans, being built in the 1990s, but it is located near a small park on the north end of the river. It also serves as the division point for two sections of the trail. The older section of the Elster Bike Trail crosses this bridge before turning left and heading to Tröglitz. A newer portion of the trail does not cross the bridge but continues north past the park towards Massnitz and Zangenberg, tunneling through the forest along the way. Both paths have historic bridges along the way to photograph.
Rehmsdorf Railroad Bridges
Located over the White Elster at the railroad crossing just outside the village of Tröglitz (1 km east of Zeitz), the Rehmsdorf Railroad Bridge features two different bridges. The river crossing, which one can see at the railroad crossing, consists of two Warren pony truss spans with vertical beams and riveted connections. Just 100 meters from that bridge is a deck plate girder bridge with eight spans, spanning a stream that empties into the White Elster. Both bridges, dating back to the 1920s, can be seen from the road connecting Tröglitz to the east and Zeitz to the west, and as the older stretch of the Elster Bike Trail runs parallel to the road, bikers and photographers have the best view of the two bridges with the camera. The bridges once served a rail line connecting Zeitz with Meuselwitz via Tröglitz and Rehmsdorf. Unfortunately, flooding caused the collapse of three of the plate girder spans resulting in the closure of the bridge and the rail line. Most likely the collapse happened during the most recent flooding in 2013. It is unknown whether that bridge will be replaced and the line reopened. But given the availability of bus service in the area, chances of anything happening with the line are slim.
Börnitz/ Massnitz Railroad Bridge:
Leaving the Zeitz area and heading north along the White Elster, we have this bridge, located only four kilometers from the one at Tröglitz. Even stranger is the fact that even though it is located near Massnitz and Börnitz, it also served the line that ran in a loop fashion going north from Zeitz, then looping onto this bridge before heading south to join the line that eventually terminates at Meuselwitz. This leads to the question of whether this bridge was the original crossing serving the line between Zeitz and Meuselwitz before it was eventually realigned to go past Tröglitz and replaced by the aforementioned bridge. If that is the case, then when did the replacement take place? The author’s hunch: as this bridge features two concrete arch spans over the river, supported by 10 (approach) spans of steel deck plate girders (summing up the length to about 1 kilometer), and the piers of the approach spans look much newer than the arch spans (which most likely dates back to a time up to 1890), the structure was originally an arch span (probably 10-12 spans counting the two spans over the river). All but the two river spans were blown up (most likely by the Nazis in 1945), and while Soviet troops tried to rebuild this bridge, a temporary bridge at Tröglitz (the one mentioned earlier) was built, which later because its permanent replacement. While more evidence is needed to support this argument, Adolf Hitler’s plan of destroying everything in the path of the Allied troops, known as operation Nero, is known throughout the circle of German historians. Nero was enacted at the dismay of even his closest allies, shortly before his suicide in 1945, but failed when even the locals realized that the war was all lost and sabotaged the attempts of the Nazi soldiers to blow up the bridges. 80% of Germany’s remaining bridges were destroyed as part of the plan, only 10% of them could ever be restored. It is uncertain whether this bridge was one of the 80%, but it would not have been surprising if evidence points to that. In either case, the bridge is accessible via street and bike route connecting Tröglitz and Massnitz on the east side of the river as well as the new Elster Trail between Börnitz and Zeitz.
Göbitz Mühlgraben Bridge:
Located over Mühlgraben Creek just 500 meters from its confluence with the White Elster, this bridge appears to be one of the oldest remaining structures in the Zeitz region. The 25 meter long structure features a trapezoidal style concrete arch bridge, which is typical of bridges built in the 1800s. The bridge may have been built to serve horse and buggy traffic between Börnitz and Göbitz until newer highways diverted it away from this crossing. Although it still serves pedestrian, cyclar and farming traffic today, spalling cracks in the spandrels and the wingwalls show that some structural rehabilitation is needed in order for it to accomodate traffic in the future. Whether or not it will happen remains to be seen.
Elsterau Pedestrian Bridge:
The last bridge profiled on the tour is this crossing. Spanning the White Elster River, this wooden pony arch span serves not only the Elster Bike Trail but also the trails connecting Börnitz and Göbnitz. The bridge was most likely built between 2008 and 2012 for it appears new to the eyes of the tourists. In either case, the bridge serves as a new addition to the village of Börnitz, which is a quiet community with just a handful of shops.
A map of the bridges can be found via Google Map, by clicking here:
To summarize this tour, the bridges in and around Zeitz, most of which are located along the White Elster, represent the charm and historic value that best fits the landscape of the area. These structures have a history of their own, many of which are worth researching, for the information on them are scarce. But as you bike along the Elster Bike Trail, you will find that these structures are worth biking for, even if the trail can be rugged at times. Yet these bridges are only a handful of the structures one should see in neighboring Leipzig (to the north) as well as Gera (to the south). Henceforth, never skip a stop for each one is full of surprises that are worth spending a few minutes of your time for. Zeitz is one of those forgotten examples that should not be forgotten.
Author’s Note: This is a throw-back to an article I wrote for the blog version of the Chronicles in 2012. The difference here is this article features a map with a guide to the location of the bridges, so that you have an opportunity to visit them. In addition some articles about Flensburg are to appear in sister column The Flensburg Files soon, as some stories coming from there are worth having a look at.
Flensburg, Germany: the city with lots of character. There are many factors that make the city, located at the German-Danish border unique. Given its proximity to the border, the city of 90,000 has the highest number of Danish minority living there with one in four having Danish blood. One will find many Danish stores in the city center and places to the north towards the border. The city prides itself on its local brewery, the Flensburger Beer with its 12 different flavors, which celebrated its 125th birthday this year. The city is the birthplace of rum, as the likes of Pott, Johannsen, Jensen and the like made their mark here, many of which can be seen by touring the Rum-Sugar Mile. One can tour see and learn about the ships that were built in Flensburg, let alone travel the Alexandra, the lone coal-powered ship still in operation. And if one is interested in sports, there’s the handball team, SG Flensburg-Handewitt, one of the premiere powerhouses in the Bundesliga.
And lastly, if one looks even closer, one will find some historic bridges, whose history has long since been hidden from view. In the three times I’ve travelled up there for vacation, one cannot get enough of the city’s history, especially with regards to that aspect. The bridges are scattered throughout the city, spanning all kinds of ravines, and ranging from girders, arches and even a wooden truss. This tour guide takes you to seven bridges that make Flensburg unique in itself. A couple of the bridges have been mentioned in previous articles as there is potential to find substantial information on them. And for some, it required some great effort as the photographer had to battle through a bed of thorns and Rotweiler dogs to get to the bridges. So without further ado, here is the guide to the bridges in the Hölle Nord:
Schleswiger Strasse Brücke-When getting off the train at the station, this is the first bridge you will see. Spanning the railroad line connecting Flensburg with the key points to the north and south, the two-span arch bridge is the second crossing at this site, for the first bridge was built in 1854 when the rail line was first constructed. This bridge was built in 1926 and still retains its original form. One should not be mistaken by the fact that the bridge is brand new. It has shown some wear and tear especially on the inner part of the arches. But overall, the bridge is in excellent shape and is in the running for being declared a historic landmark by the city.
Peelwatt Viaduct-Spanning the railroad line connecting Flensburg and Kiel, this viaduct was built in the early 1900s and is the tallest and longest bridge in Flensburg. The bridge is about 70 meters long and 30 meters deep, carrying Kaiserstrasse. This bridge was difficult to photograph given the number of thorns that had to be dealt with, in addition with being chased by a large Rotweiler owned by a couple having an “open air concert” during my visit in 2011. Unless you’re Nathan Holth and want to deal with scratches and bruises, this stunt should not be attempted. While the bridge had seen its better days because of cracks and falling debris, the structure was recently rehabilitated in a way that a new roadway and railings were built, making it safer for cyclists to cross. Since finishing the work this year, the bridge has been serving as an important link between the campus of the University of Flensburg and the City Center.
Angelburger Brücke- Located at the junction of Angelburger Strasse and the main highway Sudenhofendamm, this bridge has a history in itself that required a lot of researching. When I visited the bridge in 2010, the first impressions that came to mind was that it was just a girder bridge with some ornamental railings resembling an X-shape. Underneath the bridge it features V-laced truss framing that is welded together with gusset plates. But beyond the engineering facts, if one looks more closely at the abutments, one can see the remnants of a bike shop encased into the bridge’s north abutment because of the old German lettering and a wheel resembling an old-fashioned bike from the 1930s. As the nearest bike shop was up the hill at Hafenmarkt, I sent an inquiry about this bridge after writing a mystery bridge article about it. The response was an interesting one. The shop inside the bridge was indeed a bike shop owned by the Kraft family, which housed not only bikes, but also a repair shop. That remained in business through the 1960s before being replaced with a store that sold used books and comic booklets. It was owned by Emma Voss. Shortly before its abandonment in ca. 2000, a used furniture store took its place. After sustaining damage through broken windows and other forms of vandalism, the windows were bricked shut and a bilboard took their place. However, according to the Petersen Bike Shop, who provided the information, the city is looking at revitalizing the Bahndamm which would include remodelling and reusing this unique store space. Whether and when this will be realized remains to be seen. The bridge was built in 1919 as part of the Bahndamm line connecting the harbor and the train station. It is used next to never these days. But with the revitalization plan on the table, that might change as well.
Bahndamm Bridges:Located at the junction of the Hofenden and Hafendamm, the 1919 bridges feature not only one, but two bridges built next to each other. Each one carries a rail line just west of the split with each one caressing the harbor. Once used to transport goods from ships to the main land, both lines appear to have been abandoned for a couple decades or have seen little use. The bridges themselves are plate girder with V-laced bracings at the bottom. Its future however seems uncertain as they pose a hazard to vehicular traffic. A traffic light is right after the bridge and the lanes have become a problem, even though the city council has tried to fix it most recently.
Bridge of Friendship:This bridge is the northernmost structure, as it is located at the German-Danish border at Wassersleben, carrying a bike trail which leads to Kursa. It is also one of the most unique structures in Schleswig-Holstein for it is not only made of lumber, but the truss design is unusual- a Queenpost deck truss but designed in a manner similar to a Queenpost pony truss- the diagonal beams connect the piers with the decking without meeting at the center. Built in 1920 but reconstructed in 2003, the BoF has symbolized the connection and friendship between Germany and Denmark, which has been that way since the 1950s. Yet up until World War II, the relations between the two countries were not always the best, as they fought each other over the lands extending from Schleswig up towards Kolding- the region known as Angeln. Yet the Battle of Dybol (near Sonderburg) in 1864 decided the border in favor of German empire, with Flensburg becoming a border town. With the exception of World War II, when Hitler invaded and conquered Denmark, the border has remained the same. Between 1945 and 1995 Danish and German guards stood at the bridge, ensuring that people can cross without incident, especially as each country had its own set of laws. Yet after the Shengen Agreement, the border bridge became a free crossing and has remained so ever since. One can see the empty border patrol station still in place today when crossing into Denmark.
Bahnhofstrasse Brücke:Located just north of Carlisle Park on the road heading to the train station, this 1919 railroad bridge features similar lattice bracing as the Angelburger Bridge but in the form of a snowflake. The bridge was part of the rail line connecting the train station with the harbor but has been unused for the most part for a couple decades.
Tarup Railroad Bridge:While this bridge may look like a typical deck plate girder, this 1903 bridge is located in the rural village located 8 km east of Flensburg. Interesting to note that there is a restaurant located 300 meters away from the bridge with the date saying that the railroad was in service from 1903 to 2000. Yet the information seems to be mistaken, for the bridge carries a rail line between Flensburg and Kiel, with trains running on the hour. It is possible that the train station in Tarup was discontinued in 2000 forcing many to board at either Flensburg or Husby, but more research is needed to prove that.
Lautrupsbachtal Viaduct:The last bridge on this tour is this one. Built in 2009, the bridge spans the Lautrup Creek and several other smaller streets and a bike trail in the village of Lautrup in the eastern part of Flensburg. Despite a debate about the construction of the bridge, the it has served as a blessing, carrying traffic around the eastern end of the city, reducing the congestion, which is still a recurring problem in the city center. The bridge is the longest, measuring 500 meters, and presenting a curve. The railings also serve as a noise barrier- 10 meters tall, resembling the Ecu Viaduct in Geneva, Switzerland. A video of the crossing is presented here.
There are some more bridges that are worth visiting but could not be put on this page. Yet another bridge photographer, Fritz Wissemborski also took a tour through Flensburg in 2003 and has a set of pictures you can view here. It pretty much sums up how important the bridges were to the city of Flensburg, for it contributed to the development of its infrastructure over the years. And because talks are underway to convert the former rail line to a bike trail connecting the harbor with the train station, one will have an opportunity to see these bridges reused again, as more and more people will take to the bikes and leave their cars in the garage. This way people will know more about these structures and come to appreciate them even more than they did in the past, providing another reason to visit Flensburg apart from the rum, beer, boating and handball.
Click on the highlighted bridges to gain access to the photos. Some of which were photographed by the author and can be found on his facebook page.
Google Map: A guide to the bridges in and around Flensburg you can find here: