Wurzbug alte Mainbrucke in Wurzburg, Germany

Wurzburg alte Mainbrucke

Wurzburg alte Mainbrucke is a fascinating European landmark with roots that date back to antiquity. This stone arch bridge was first erected by about 1120, according to legend, making it the oldest stone bridge in Germany. It spans the Main River to link the old town of Wurzburg in the northern tip of Bavaria with the Fortress Marienerg and was the only crossing point of the river in Wurzburg until 1886. Over the centuries the bridge has been rebuilt more than once, including a redesign in the 15th century by architect Hans von Konigshofen and substantial repairs after sustaining damage in major medieval floods and World War II.

Built from locally quarried limestone, the Old Main Bridge is 607 feet long with eight arched openings supported by masonry and reinforced concrete vaults. Perched atop pillars on both sides of the bridge are rows of stone statues in the shape of rulers, saints and bishops associated with the place.

This exquisite span has been closed to vehicular traffic since 1992, and today it serves as a popular tourist attraction as well as a highly utilized pedestrian and cycle path. The site was used for filming of the movie The Three Musketeers in 2010.

The impressive figures decorating the Old Main Bridge include Charlemagne and Pepin, his father, as well as Mary, Joseph with the child Jesus, bishops Burkhard, Friedrich and Bruno and various other saints and Frankish apostles. They were installed beginning in 1730. In early times, however, the bridge may have been adorned with statues honoring the pagan goddess Freya. These were toppled by Christian missionaries who are commemorated among the bridge’s present-day statues. The original pagan icons have been recovered and are on display within the Marienberg Fortress, which was built on top of the ancient Freya Shrine. Wurzburg served as an important center of worship for Freya prior to the Christian domination of Germany.

From goddesses and saints to world wars and on to the modern film industry, Wurzburg alte Mainbrucke embodies Bavaria’s rich tapestry of history and culture. Take the time to explore it in person if you have the opportunity, and if you’ve been there, please share your experience with us!

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Gail Rockburne
Gail Rockburne
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