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Heidelberg and the Neckar Valley Sights

Alte Brücke (Old Bridge)

Updated 11/15/2013

Fodor's Review

Framed by two Spitzhelm towers (so called for their resemblance to old German helmets), this bridge was part of Heidelberg's medieval fortifications. In the west tower are three dank dungeons that once held common criminals. Above the portcullis you'll see a memorial plaque that pays warm tribute to the Austrian forces that helped Heidelberg beat back a French attempt to capture the bridge in 1799. The bridge itself is one of many to be built on this spot; ice floes and floods destroyed its predecessors. The elector Carl Theodor, who built it in 1786–88, must have been confident this one would last: he had a statue of himself erected on it, upon a plinth decorated with river gods and goddesses (symbolic of the Neckar, Rhine, Danube, and Mosel rivers). As you enter the bridge from the Old Town, you'll also notice a statue of an animal that appears somewhat catlike. It's actually a monkey holding a mirror. Legend has it the statue was erected to symbolize the need for both city-dwellers and those who lived on the other side of the bridge to take a look over their shoulders as they cross—that neither group was more elite than the other. The pedestrian-only bridge is at the end of Steingasse, not far from the Marktplatz.

Sight Information

Address:

End of Steing., Heidelberg, 69117, Germany

Updated 11/15/2013

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