Cologne: Hohenzollern Bridge

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.

Köln - Hohenzollernbrücke und Dom

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.

Köln -

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.

Köln - An der Rhein

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.

Köln - Hohenzollernbrücke

The pedestrian crossing is quite popular. We used it several times, and it was always this busy.

Köln - Hohenzollernbrücke

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.

Köln - Hohenzollernbrücke

The bridge is a commanding presence wherever you are along the Rhine at the heart of Cologne.

Köln - Rhein und Hohenzollernbrücke

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.


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11 responses to “Cologne: Hohenzollern Bridge”

  1. Tam Avatar

    You’re making me want a Df.

    Did you shoot these with the 28-200/3.5-5.6?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yes, that’s the one lens I took with me to Germany.

      I like the Df but I have not fallen in love with it like I thought I might.

  2. M.B. Henry Avatar

    Wow, such amazing pictures. Love all the padlocks! My husband and I went to Cologne in 2018 and absolutely loved it.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It’s really a terrific city. I’m glad we spent a few days there.

  3. Michael Carnell Avatar

    Great pictures. I walked over that bridge a few times earlier this year and the sheer number of padlocks was astounding. Not only that, but on the cathedral side of the bridge, directly across the cathedral, is a fantastic camera shop with lots of great used film gear at astoundingly reasonable prices.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve seen padlocked bridges, but never one like that. Something else!

  4. Michael Avatar

    The bridge still had 3 arches in 1984. The far one is easily visible in even the initial image shown. Time for new glasses already? :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Maybe I wasn’t clear: the bridge had two parallel sets of spans before, three now.

      1. Michael Avatar

        Haha, I was just going to add I understood what you meant now. No need for new glasses. :)

  5. J P Avatar

    Now all I can wonder about is how many more padlocks can the bridge support until a train goes crashing into the water!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      This is a real thing, and a reason why municipal crews often arrive with bolt cutters to bridges like this. But German civil engineers have evaluated this bridge and believe that it can handle the weight. So the locks stay.

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