94. Regensburg

I first went to Regensburg in around 1987 while visiting the remarkable research group on historical construction at Karlsruhe. Our main visit was to the cathedral where there was lots of interesting work going on but a side visit took in the bridge and the Roman gate.

The pdf version is here.

Here we see part of it built into the Bishop’s Palace. In it’s day, it faced the Danube at a ford and marked the extremity of the Roman Empire in these parts.

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The bridge has many claims to fame. It is a classic medieval bridge, with many spans crossing two arms of the river and an island between. As you can see it is nearing the end of another refurbishment.

Note the enormous starlings surrounding the piers and creating a massive obstruction to the river flow. The long points upstream are to help break up ice flows. Old London bridge was like this, but with rather smaller spans and correspondingly narrower river channels.

Note the enormous starlings surrounding the piers and creating a massive obstruction to the river flow. The long points upstream are to help break up ice flows. Old London bridge was like this, but with rather smaller spans and correspondingly narrower river channels.

From a little downstream you can see that the parapets are very obviously replacements. Probably from the old ones being washed away in a flood.

From a little downstream you can see that the parapets are very obviously replacements. Probably from the old ones being washed away in a flood.

In the background, large slabs of granite forming a parapet. In the foreground, the slightly optimistic sign says “Stone Bridge 1135-1146 – 23.4.1945 piers 1 and 10 destroyed – rebuilt in 1967. In truth there is evidence that this bridge, with many others in the region, was washed away in a massive storm in the mid 1300s and what we are looking at here is largely 14th Century construction.

In the background, large slabs of granite forming a parapet. In the foreground, the slightly optimistic sign says “Stone Bridge 1135-1146 – 23.4.1945 piers 1 and 10 destroyed – rebuilt in 1967. In truth there is evidence that this bridge, with many others in the region, was washed away in a massive storm in the mid 1300s and what we are looking at here is largely 14th Century construction.

The model shows the general state in the 14th Century after the rebuild.

The model shows the general state in the 14th Century after the rebuild.

By 1633 there were three defensive towers.

By 1633 there were three defensive towers.

In the early 20th Century the bridge was widened a little by corbelling out new parapets and a skew span was inserted at the far end to carry traffic through a new side arch round the clock tower.

In the early 20th Century the bridge was widened a little by corbelling out new parapets and a skew span was inserted at the far end to carry traffic through a new side arch round the clock tower.

Between 45 and 67 there were temporary spans at the far end and at the branch ramp on the island.

Between 45 and 67 there were temporary spans at the far end and at the branch ramp on the island.

This 1950 photograph shows the temporary spans at the town end.

This 1950 photograph shows the temporary spans at the town end.

Here we see the skew edge of the end span (built with parallel courses) but is it actually just a skin on a modern structure?

Here we see the skew edge of the end span (built with parallel courses) but is it actually just a skin on a modern structure?

You can see why the arch in the clock tower was too small for even early 20th Century traffic. The bridge is now pedestrian only but trams ran across here before the war.  To the left is the salt warehouse. Apparently the good burghers of Regensburg used to buy up most of the supply of salt in Europe each summer then control the sale and therefore the price.

You can see why the arch in the clock tower was too small for even early 20th Century traffic. The bridge is now pedestrian only but trams ran across here before the war.

To the left is the salt warehouse. Apparently the good burghers of Regensburg used to buy up most of the supply of salt in Europe each summer then control the sale and therefore the price.

This view of the island ramp (obviously rebuilt) also shows the lattice spires on the Cathedral.

This view of the island ramp (obviously rebuilt) also shows the lattice spires on the Cathedral.

Corbel stones and parapet slabs show well here but so does a very obvious change in construction after the third voussoir.

Corbel stones and parapet slabs show well here but so does a very obvious change in construction after the third voussoir.

The end of the skew span looks strange. I note that there is no respect for the beautiful bridge from the plumbers!

The end of the skew span looks strange. I note that there is no respect for the beautiful bridge from the plumbers!

This open joint at the end of the 1967 rebuild suggests it is pastiche with a different structure hidden behind the stones.

This open joint at the end of the 1967 rebuild suggests it is pastiche with a different structure hidden behind the stones.

The upstream ends of the cutwaters are protected from ice with massive embedded stones.

The upstream ends of the cutwaters are protected from ice with massive embedded stones.

Some interesting indications of construction here. Note the four patched pockets each side of the crown.

Some interesting indications of construction here. Note the four patched pockets each side of the crown.

The spacing of the pockets shows more clearly here.

The spacing of the pockets shows more clearly here.

Rather more pockets for the centres at the lower level.

Rather more pockets for the centres at the lower level.

Do the two layers line up? I suspect they do. But what is that about. Were there separate centres for the bottom and mid span sections? It seems likely that the construction is solid masonry to the level of the upper pockets. Were the arches built to there then propped so that smaller centres could be used above?

Do the two layers line up? I suspect they do. But what is that about. Were there separate centres for the bottom and mid span sections? It seems likely that the construction is solid masonry to the level of the upper pockets. Were the arches built to there then propped so that smaller centres could be used above?

This must surely be another 1967 span with dressed facings and something altogether different behind.

This must surely be another 1967 span with dressed facings and something altogether different behind.

There is a story attached to this about the devil helping the builder. He seems to be peering up at the spires but they were surely rather later than the bridge if it were twelfth century.

There is a story attached to this about the devil helping the builder. He seems to be peering up at the spires but they were surely rather later than the bridge if it were twelfth century.

Do these to plaques mark the parishes on each side? The Cathedral is St Peter’s certainly. There is a core hole too, I see.

Do these to plaques mark the parishes on each side? The Cathedral is St Peter’s certainly. There is a core hole too, I see.

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Bull? or cow? And why?

Bull? or cow? And why?

The capstan served a steam winch which, for may years, helped to pull boats up through the bridge.

The capstan served a steam winch which, for may years, helped to pull boats up through the bridge.

Notes about the steam winch for those who can read them.

Notes about the steam winch for those who can read them.

Emperor Friedrich II looks down over the bridge. For many centuries there was no other between Ulm and Vienna.

Emperor Friedrich II looks down over the bridge. For many centuries there was no other between Ulm and Vienna.

A closer look at the sculptures.

A closer look at the sculptures.

And more info on Wikipedia.

Well, If I get one more done before Christmas I am almost up to date for the end of the year.

And before I go, a word of thanks to Hamish for making this all much easier. Wthout his help I couldn’t get there.