Monday, July 16, 2012

The Oberbaumbrücke

The Oberbaumbrücke is one of the prettiest bridges I’ve ever seen. It is a bridge that links Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain across the waters of the River Spree.

These former boroughs were previously divided by the Berlin Wall. During the division crossings were prohibited and later limited to pedestrian crossings by West Berlin residents only. The Wall stretched along both banks of the river so after German reunification the Oberbaumbrücke became an important symbol of the unity of modern Berlin.

The name Oberbaumbrücke translates literally as “Upstream Tree Bridge” and derives from the original wooden drawbridge that was in this location as far back as the 18th century. It was used as a gate to the city and, at night, a fortified tree trunk was placed under the bridge to stop smugglers coming in and out of the city by water.

Today the distinctive red brick bridge, which originally opened in 1896, is multi-functional as it allows traffic, pedestrians and the U-bahn (line 1 of the metro) to cross the river. Pedestrians can meander along undeneath the train line under the series of brick arches as a herd of cyclists wizz past in the cycle lane. Over the last few months I have also seen a number of buskers and musicians performing on the bridge, a great setting to stop and listen to a bit of music!

The U-Bahn metro line runs through Kreuzberg and terminates just on the other side at Warschauerstrasse. It travels on an upper deck where there is a great view of the city, including the TV tower in Alexanderplatz, as you cross. In fact, a journey along the whole of line 1 of the U-bahn is a great way to see the West of the city as it runs on a raised bridge along the side of the main roads.

It’s current appearance is down to the fact that the Siemens and Halske company (who built the U-Bahn system) insisted that the metro crossing was included in the design. I have crossed this bridge many times by foot, train and bus as I live close by and I have to say that each time I never fail to enjoy the view and it’s architecture. It is a spectacular architectual beauty and an icon of the city with it’s distinctive grand towers visable from far down the Spree. I recommend a stoll across and don’t forget to take your camera.

For more information about the history of the bridge, check out the article on wikipedia

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