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Old Bridge Heidelberg

All details


It is hard to ima­gine the city wit­hout the Old Bridge of Heidelberg. It is pro­ba­bly less well known under the name Karl-Theo­dor-Bridge, alt­hough this is actually the offi­cial name of the baro­que sand­stone bridge. Since 1788, the bridge has con­nec­ted the Old Town with the Neu­en­heim dis­trict on the other side of the Neckar. After a blas­ting in the 2nd world war, the bridge was rebuilt. This inter­rupted the con­nec­tion of the Neckar sides through the bridge for about 2 years. Before the des­truc­tion the bridge was not des­troyed by wars, but even became the scene of war batt­les twice. Once during the coali­tion wars after the French Revo­lu­tion, when French troops tried seve­ral times to con­quer Heidelberg via the Old Bridge. And a second time during the Baden Revo­lu­tion in 1848/1849.

At the place where the Karl-Theo­dor-Bridge has been loca­ted for many years now, there were alre­ady eight pre­vious bridges. The bridges that stood before it on the spot were made of wood and were des­troyed again and again by wars or ice aisles on the Neckar. The­r­e­fore, the Elec­tor Karl Theo­dor orde­red the con­s­truc­tion of the stone bridge, which stret­ched from 1786 to 1788. At that time, the bridge was the most expen­sive buil­ding in the Elec­to­ral Pala­ti­nate after the Mann­heim Castle and deman­ded a spe­cial tax from the citi­zens to make the con­s­truc­tion possible.

The large gate with the two white towers is the bridge gate from the Middle Ages, which was once part of Heidelberg’s city wall. Very close to it, on the south-wes­tern bridge pier, you can see the flood marks of seve­ral years. The arch in front of it rises above the B37 and was spe­ci­ally rebuilt in 1969 to allow a two-lane pas­sage of the street. Due to the recon­s­truc­tion the arches now give a more har­mo­nious over­all picture.

The bridge has a total length of 200 metres and a width of about 7 metres. It is very popu­lar for pic­tures at the rai­ling of the bridge or with the old bridge gate in the back­ground. Espe­ci­ally on weekends, you will hardly see the bridge wit­hout people and came­ras on it.

flood marks
Old bridge from B37

Apart­ment & Sculptures

What many of the visi­tors of Heidelberg’s Old Bridge pro­ba­bly do not know is that there is a small apart­ment in the bridge tower, which was still inha­bi­ted until 2004. The wes­tern tower was con­side­red a dun­geon in the 18th cen­tury and the apart­ment was then the home of the bridge keeper. To rebuild the bridge, after World War II, the archi­tect Rudolf Stein­bach moved into the four walls above the Old Bridge. By hol­ding fes­ti­vi­ties in the tower, he turned the Old Town into a popu­lar mee­ting place for artists. His next ten­ants, the writer Gert Kalow and his wife, also con­tin­ued the tra­di­tion of the fes­ti­vi­ties. Until 2004, the woman, wido­wed in 1991, stayed in the apart­ment. Since then, the apart­ment is no longer inha­bi­ted, also out of safety from the col­lapsing beams. Only a few Heidelberg resi­dents have a key to the apartment.

There are also some monu­ments on the bridge, the ori­gi­nals of which can be found in the Kur­pfäl­zi­sche Museum. The sta­tues repre­sent the Elec­tor Karl-Theo­dor, and the Roman god­dess Minerva (or the Greek god­dess Athena). Also known, is the bridge monkey, today a bronze sculp­ture, form­erly a stone figure. The bronze sculp­ture on the Old Bridge is so large that you can stick your own head into the monkey’s hollow head.

Bridge Gate
Bridge Monkey
Karl Theodor Statue

Loca­tion & Directions

The Old Bridge Heidelberg is loca­ted above the river Neckar and con­nects Neu­en­heim and the Old Town of Heidelberg. If you are on the bridge, you have a beau­tiful view in all direc­tions. Whe­ther you are loo­king at the houses on the Neu­en­heim bank, the houses of the Old Town, or the Heidelberg Castle, on the bridge you have a 360 degree view that could not be more beau­tiful. An excur­sion to the bridge should be included in any case in your visit to Heidelberg. From the bridge, you can reach the Phi­lo­so­phers’ Path via the Schlan­gen­weg on the Neu­en­heim side. On the bank side, near the bridge, there is also the Heidelberg love stone. From the end of the bridge in the Old Town, you can reach the main street (Haupt­straße) in a few steps.

view to Heidelberg Castle
The bridge is easily acces­si­ble by public trans­port on both sides of the river. The Alte Brücke stop is loca­ted on the side of the Old Town directly on the B37. On the other side of the Neckar river is the bus stop Alte Brücke Nord. The bridge can be easily rea­ched from Heidelberg Main Sta­tion on both sides of the Neckar. Take line 735 in the direc­tion of Eiter­bach, you will reach the bridge directly on the side of the Old Town. If you take line 32 in the direc­tion of Uni­ver­si­täts­platz, you have to change at Bis­marck to line 35 in the direc­tion of Bil­dungs­zen­trum. To get to the bus stop in Neu­en­heim, simply take line 34 in the direc­tion of Ziegelhausen.

If you come by car, it is best to park in one of the multi-storey car parks in the Old Town if you want to explore the bridge by foot. Howe­ver, there is also the chance to drive over the bridge by car. Monday to Friday from 11-16 o’clock, as well as Satur­day from 11-24 o’clock and the whole Sunday the bridge is not pas­sa­ble for cars. Out­side these times the bridge is pas­sa­ble for cars. If you drive along the B37 or the Zie­gel­häu­ser Land­straße by car, you can’t miss the bridge either, as it stret­ches almost pic­tures­quely over the Neckar River. On the B37 one even drives under the Old Bridge.


View from the Castle
View to Neuenheimer side