Cologne, Germany’s best-known identifying landmark is naturally the Cologne Cathedral. But almost as well known is a nearby three-span iron-truss bridge, the Hohenzollern Bridge.
The Hohenzollern Bridge is like three side-by-side bridges in one. I wasn’t able to make a photo that showed it well from the ground. This black-and-white photo shows it best of all the photos I made.
When I was last in Cologne, in 1984, I climbed the 500+ steps to the top of the cathedral’s south tower, where I made this photo overlooking the bridge. Incredibly, the bridge had only two sets of arches then!
This bridge was originally built between 1907 and 1911, and at that time it carried trains, cars and trucks, and pedestrians. It is said to have had three adjacent sets of spans at that time, as it does now. The bridge survived major damage during World War II until the very end, when the Germans destroyed it to stymie advancing Allied troops.
Reconstruction of the bridge began after the war and was completed in 1959, apparently leading to the two rows of spans I photographed in 1984. The bridge no longer carried cars and trucks. As best as I can piece together, the third row of spans was built shortly after my visit on the south side of the bridge. The pedestrian walkway is on the outside of this third set of spans.
The pedestrian crossing is quite popular. We used it several times, and it was always this busy.
People started adding padlocks to the inner railing in the late 2000s. At last estimate a half million padlocks are attached, weighing between two and 15 tons. Bridge authorities say the bridge is strong enough to carry that weight along with the passing trains.
The bridge is a commanding presence wherever you are along the Rhine at the heart of Cologne.
Margaret and I recommend catching the sunset over the cathedral and the bridge from the east side of the Rhine.
You don’t have to be a bridgefan, as I am, to appreciate a bridge like the Hohenzollern Bridge.