Merchants' Bridge

Erfurt, Germany

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.

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Krämerbrücke, Erfurt, Germany
See all sites in Erfurt

Details

Founded: 1325
Category:
Historical period: Habsburg Dynasty (Germany)

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Eyad Aljardan اياد الجردان (7 months ago)
Nice .. with vintage shops over the bridge.. the street is great
Ananords (7 months ago)
It's really cool to see the old buildings, and walk on the bridge.
Christopher Cotton (8 months ago)
Wonderful tourist attraction, the Worlds longest inhabited bridge. Nice quaint if expensive shops. Worth a look.
György Horváth (8 months ago)
Loved it! It is a nice place. And you can find some duck here as well.
Craig Dickson (8 months ago)
Really nice ancient bridge that feels like a tiny old street. Full of cool and interesting shops selling a nice selection of things. If you visit Erfurt you have to check it out!
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