The bridge as seen from Hochschule für Technik Rapperswil (November 2009)
|Carries||Rapperswil and Hurden|
|Locale||Rapperswil and Hurden|
|Material||Solid oak (415m3) with steel components (61 t), 233 piles 7–16 m long, diameter 36–70 cm|
|Total length||841 metres (2,759 ft)|
|Width||2.4 metres (7.9 ft)|
|Height||1.5 metres (4.9 ft)|
|Opened||April 6, 2001|
Holzbrücke Rapperswil-Hurden is a wooden pedestrian bridge between the city of Rapperswil and the village of Hurden crossing the upper Lake Zürich (Obersee) in Switzerland. The prehistoric timber piles discovered to the west of the Seedamm date back to 1523 BC. The Technikum site is a prehistoric pile-dwelling (or stilt house) settlement which is part of the Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps UNESCO World Heritage Site. The first wooden footbridge led across Lake Zürich, followed by several reconstructions at least until late 2nd century AD when the Roman Empire built a 6 metres (20 ft) wide wooden bridge. Between 1358 and 1360, Rudolf IV, Duke of Austria, built a 'new' wooden bridge across the lake that was used until 1878. On April 6, 2001, the reconstructed wooden footbridge was opened, being the longest wooden bridge in Switzerland.
The pedestrian bridge is located next to the so-called Seedamm, as of the today, on upper Lake Zürich (Obersee), and connects Rapperswil, canton of St. Gallen, and Hurden, canton of Schwyz. From Rapperswil railway station it is just a few minutes’ walk, starting right next to the Hochschule für Technik Rapperswil. Its filigree timber structure invites the hiker to observe the richly varied flora and fauna in the nature reserve situated around the small islands neighboring the so-called Heilig Hüsli.
Neolithic and Roman bridges between the lake shores
The prehistoric timber piles discovered to the west of the dam date back to 1523 BC. Situated not far from Heilig Hüsli a lakeside settlement was discovered, where a hamlet was built around 1650 to 1500 BC on a small island. The first wooden footbridge led across Lake Zurich, followed by several reconstructions at least until late 2nd century AD when the Roman Empire built a 6 metres (20 ft) wide wooden bridge under Empire Marcus Aurelius (161–180). At Kempraten's Lake Zurich bay, the Roman transshipment harbour for goods was located that have been transported on the Roman streets, on the wooden bridge and on the waterway Zürich–Walensee.
Medieval bridge (1358-1878)
In 981, a ferry to the Ufenau island is mentioned, probably there was a ferry to the other lakeside, too. By 1358, ferry services between Rapperswil and Hurden are mentioned. Between 1358 and 1360, Rudolf IV, Duke of Austria, built a 'new' wooden bridge across the lake that has been used to 1878 – measuring approximately 1,450 metres (4,760 ft) in length and 4 metres (13 ft) wide; 546 oak piles have been installed. A small wooden bridge from Ufenau island to Hurden is mentioned around 1430, so-called «Kilchweg in die Uffnow».
In 1873, the Swiss federal parliament approved the construction of the Seedamm's stone dam and the southeastern and southwestern bridges. Construction works have been begun in 1875 and finished in 1878 – in the same year the Middle Ages wooden bridge was broken.
Reconstructed bridge (2001)
On April 6, 2001, the reconstructed wooden footbridge was opened alongside the Seedamm. It was built within nine months in quite the same place as the original neolithic and medieval bridges linking Rapperswil with the nearby bridge chapel (Heilig Hüsli) built in 1551. This connection for centuries has been part of old pilgrimage routes, the so-called Jakobsweg to the Einsiedeln Abbey. The old pilgrimage way leads from Wattwil over the Ricken pass to Schmerikon on to Lachen and along the left bank of the lake to Pfäffikon. Another route leads from Schmerikon along the lake to Rapperswil and then over the wooden bridge respectively from Constance over the Hörnli mountain through Zürcher Oberland via Rapperswil and the wooden bridge to St. Meinrad pass (Etzel mountain) and heads to Einsiedeln.
The new wooden bridge opened in 2001 is significant internationally and historically. As mentioned this narrowest part of the Lake Zürich was already bridged in pre-Bronze Age times. The Middle Ages wooden bridge, with loose planks, was built from 1358 to 1360, while the last one was demolished in 1878 when the Seedamm was built. The bridge has a length of 841 metres (2,759 ft), is 2.4 metres (7.9 ft) wide, and its path is 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) above mean water level (406 metres (1,332 ft). 415m3 solid Oak and 61 tons steel components have been used, and 233 piles, each 7–16 m long, diameter 36–70 cm. Piling started on August 9, 2000, the bridge was officially opened on April 6, 2001.
The lake and the small islands between the timber piles and the dam are designated as a nature reserve. Together with an artificial island made of gravel, they form one of the most important waterfowl breeding areas. For this reason, fishing from the wooden bridge is prohibited, as is swimming and mooring boats in the area.
Heritage site of national significance
After the Seedamm was built in 1878, the Heilig Hüsli chapel was the only remaining structure of the medieval wooden bridge. It stood isolated in the lake and was not accessible to visitors until the reconstruction of the former wooden bridge was erected in 2001. The reconstructed wooden bridge is listed as Swiss heritage sites of national significance as part of the Seedamm area including Heilig Hüsli and the remains of the prehistoric wooden bridges respectively stilt house settlements.
- UNESCO World Heritage Site - Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps
- Website Unterwasserarchäologische Projekte Kanton St. Gallen
- Neue Zürcher Zeitung (January 20/21, 2001): Die Brücke auf dem Grund des Zürichsees
- Hurden: History
- Website Holzsteg Rapperswil
- Swiss inventory of cultural property of national and regional significance
- Beat Eberschweiler: Ur- und frühgeschichtliche Verkehrswege über den Zürichsee: Erste Ergebnisse aus den Taucharchäologischen Untersuchungen beim Seedamm. In: Mitteilungen des Historischen Vereins des Kantons Schwyz, Ausgabe 96, Schwyz 2004.
- Hans Rathgeb: Brücken über den See. Hrsg. von der Arbeitsgemeinschaft Fussgänger-Holzsteg Rapperswil-Hurden, Rapperswil 2001. ISBN 3-9522511-1-9
- Dieter Trachsler: Pilgerwege der Schweiz: Jakobsweg; Schwabenweg: Konstanz – Einsiedeln, unter besonderer Berücksichtigung des Zürcher Oberlandes. Hrsg. Zürcher Wanderwegen (ZAW), 2. Auflage, Wetzikon 2000.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Holzbrücke Rapperswil–Hurden.|
- Website Jakobsweg Konstanz – Einsiedeln (Schwabenweg) (German)
- Website Verkehrsverein Rapperswil-Jona (VVRJ) (German)
- Website Europäische Fernwanderwege durch die Schweiz (German)