The Krämerbrücke (Merchants' bridge) is a medieval bridge which is lined with inhabited, half timbered buildings on both sides. The bridge was built next to a ford and was part of the Via Regia, a medieval trade and pilgrims' road network, which linked Rome with the Baltic Sea, and Moscow with Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain.
Originally constructed from wood, the bridge was first mentioned in 1117 after its destruction by one of the many fires. The first documentary evidence dates back to 1156. Merchants and trades people had already set up market stalls on both sides of the bridge by this date.
Because of repeated fires in 1175, 1178, 1213, 1222, 1245, 1265, and 1293, the municipal administration acquired all bridge rights from the monasteries in 1293 in order to build a stone bridge. This was completed in 1325, with uninhabited, half-timbered trading stalls on top of it. At both bridgeheads stone churches dedicated St. Benedicti and St. Aegidien were erected.
After a fire in 1472, which destroyed nearly half of the city and the market stalls on the bridge, it was reconstructed in its current form with 62 half-timbered buildings. The three-storey houses are 13 m to 15 m in height. To make them habitable, the depth was extended by using wooden Sprengwerke (trusses or bracing) next to the arched vaults, so that the buildings partially overhang the stone bridge structure. The width of the bridge, as completed in 1486, is 26 m.
The name Krämerbrücke, which means 'merchants' bridge', has been in common usage since 1510.
The St. Benedicti Church was sold in 1807 and later demolished, apart from its tower, in 1810, in order to build a new house. In 1895 the tower had to give way to the newly built Rathausbrücke (town hall bridge), which crosses the river parallel to the Krämerbrücke. When the Rathausbrücke was being planned, the idea of completely demolishing the Krämerbrücke was discussed.
Because of its special significance in Erfurt's history, and the history of European medieval architecture in general, the Krämerbrücke was granted special preservation status. All buildings were restored from 1967 to 1973 and extensive repair works were done to the vaults in 1985/1986 and 2002. Today the shops at street level house businesses such as antique shops, wine merchants, art galleries, artisans' workshops and specialist food outlets, cafes, etc. A bakery operates from a shop under the bridge at its western end. The upper levels of the buildings are mainly inhabited apartments.
The bridge is one of Erfurt's main tourist attractions and a must-see, as the only other remaining medieval bridge of a similar type is the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. The Krämerbrücke is still in fairly much the same use as it has been for over 500 hundred years.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.