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 Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.
The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.
Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.
The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.
Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.
The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.
During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.
In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.