Continuing my series of European bridges, having already covered Northern & Southern Europe and the UK.
My classification for Central Europe is Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Czechia, Slovakia & Slovenia.
If the earth’s creator had an idea for a fabulous train set, Switzerland would have been the perfect setting.
It has however been left to mankind to build a miraculous series of bridges and viaducts over dizzying mountain passes and across raging rivers.
If you have the good fortune to take the Bernina or Glacier Expresses or a cog railway up the Jungfrau or Matterhorn Mountains, you will bear witness to some amazing constructions.
Here are a few of my favourites.
This breathtakingly situated viaduct was completed in 1902 and is 65 metres high & 136 metres long. Part of the Albula Railway, you will pass over it on the Bernina Express route before/after you enter/exit the 216 metre long Landwasser Tunnel
Even more impressive, The Brusio Viaduct is traversed not long after leaving Tirano on the Italian border on the Bernina Express.
The spiral viaduct first saw service in 1908 and was designed to allow a gradual ascent of train, limiting the railway’s grade to the required maximum of 7%, so that the train would not slip on the way up or be uncontrollable on the way down.
Travelling on the viaduct is a highlight of the journey to Chur and of course I had my video primed as you can see by clicking SPIRAL.
Zermatt Road Bridges
As you approach Zermatt on the Glacier Express you pass a pair of road bridges that I do not think I would have the nerve to drive across!
Switzerland’s largest city is situated on an impressive glacial lake (Zürichsee).
There are a few impressive bridges in the centre of the city which link the old and new towns.
My favourite bridge that I have seen in Germany is in Cologne. The Hohenzollern Bridge crosses the Rhine almost as soon as you leave the main train station.
Reconstructed after WWII, it now serves only trains and pedestrians and makes quite a sight from the top of the amazing adjacent cathedral or at river level.
From atop the cathedral you can also view some road bridges that cross the great river.
Dusseldorf is another German city on the Rhine with some impressive bridges.
Frankfurt actually surprised me as being a very pleasant place to stroll around. I had been there on many occasions for work and had always been warned off the city as a boring place to visit.
One day I decided to amble around for a few hours, and was glad I did. I crossed over the Main River to sit at an al fresco bar for a beer. Zehr gut!
The German capital is best known for the Bundestag, Reichstag & Brandenburg Gate, however my favourite was the DDR museum which sits by the River Spree. Learning about the former East Germany, The Berlin Wall etc was completely fascinating.
The Spree is not a grand river, though some of the bridges are quite attractive.
Hamburg on the Elbe has some great bridges, but sadly I have no pictorial evidence from my two visits there. Must go back!
Salzburg is absolutely our favourite place to visit at Christmas and we will really miss it this year.
Sat on the river Salzach, it has a very nice pedestrian bridge in the centre, plus another made famous in the Sound of Music.
Karlovy Most or Charles Bridge in Prague must be one of the most photographed in Europe.
The pedestrian walkway over the River Vltava is festooned with dramatic statues and attracts artists, performers and crowds of tourists.
Happily I have been many times when it was slightly less frenetic.
The Slovakian capital sits on the mighty Danube. I have visited three times now, arriving by train from Vienna and returning by boat last time I visited.
The New Bridge hosts the UFO Restaurant located on its pillars for a fine view while you eat.
The Slovenian capital is split in two by the River Ljubljanica, with a fine hilltop castle overlooking proceedings.
There are several worthy river crossings, the best known of which is the Triple Bridge designed by national hero Jože Plečnik, who added two further bridges to the one that was already present.
Another notable bridge is the Dragon Bridge. Legend has it that dragons used to live in the river, possibly due to the steam that used to rise from the water on hot days.
The fire-breathing dragon is the symbol of the city and the bridge that takes its name has two of the scaly critters on either end.
A third revered bridge in the centre is the Shoemaker’s Bridge which dates back to the 13th Century. Cobblers used to work in booths located there, hence the name.
There is one other bridge in the centre which is less impressive than the others but has had the lovelock treatment that is liked and loathed in equal measure.
There are some unusual bronze sculptures though, which may redeem it for some.
The tiny nation was my last overseas leisure trip back in February this year.
There were no bridges of note that I saw, although there was a nondescript roadbridge that is an official border with Switzerland.
That’s it for Central Europe – do you know any others that I am yet to see?
Coming next – Eastern European Bridges