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Alte Brücke bei Nacht, Foto: Andrew Cowin

Alte Brücke (Old Bridge)

Built of Neckar valley sandstone in the 18th century by Prince Karl Theodor, the famous Old Bridge (Alte Brücke) is one of the last large examples of classical stone bridge building. It links the old town to the banks of the Neckar at the eastern end of the Neuenheim district. The precursors of today's Old Bridge were all made of wood. As they were continually being destroyed by wars and floods, Prince Karl Theodor ordered the construction of a stone bridge across the river (1786-1788). On the city side is the medieval Bridge Gate, part of the former city wall.

West of the Bridge Gate, the Heidelberg Bridge Monkey now holds a mirror up to those who look at it. The bronze sculpture by Professor Gernot Rumpf was installed there in 1979. But there was a bridge monkey in Heidelberg as far back as the 15th century. Old drawings of the town show it next to the tower on the north end of the Old Bridge. It disappeared during the Palatinate War of Succession (1689/93) however.

The legend surrounding this curious statue tells us that it symbolizes the fact that neither the city-dwellers nor the people who lived outside the city were better than the other, and that they should look over their shoulder as they cross the bridge to remember this.

Sculptures on the Old Bridge
There are two sculpture groups by Konrad Linck on the Old Bridge. One is a monument to Prince Elector Carl Theodor, who had the bridge built. The other is devoted to the Roman goddess Minerva (in Greek, Pallas Athene). The monument to the Prince Elector is closer to the south shore of the Neckar. The figures arranged on the two-level base around the monument symbolize the most important rivers of the lands governed by Carl Theodor: the Rhine, Mosel, Danube and Isar.
The Prince Elector passionately believed in supporting the arts and sciences, which is why the other monument is dedicated to the goddess of wisdom.

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Images

Bridge Gate

 

 

Brückenaffe ©Cornelia Lochner

Bridge Monkey

The bronze sculpture by Professor Gernot Rumpf was installed there in 1979.

Liebesstein Nepomukterrasse ©Cornelia Lochner

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