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.
Apartment & Sculptures
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.
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.
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.