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Hohenzollern Bridge

Coordinates: 50°56′29″N 06°57′56″E / 50.94139°N 6.96556°E / 50.94139; 6.96556
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Hohenzollern Bridge

Hohenzollern bridge
Hohenzollern bridge
Coordinates50°56′29″N 06°57′56″E / 50.94139°N 6.96556°E / 50.94139; 6.96556
CarriesTrain and pedestrian traffic[1]
CrossesRiver Rhine[1]
LocaleCologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany[1]
OwnerDeutsche Bahn
DesignTied arch bridge (1948)[1]
MaterialConcrete piers with steel superstructure[1]
Total length409.19 metres (1,342.5 ft)[1]
Width26.2 metres (86 ft) (deck, 1987)[1]
Longest span167.75 metres (550.4 ft)[1]
No. of spans118.88 metres (390.0 ft) - 167.75 metres (550.4 ft) - 122.56 metres (402.1 ft) (1987)[1]
Constructed byKrupp Maschinen- und Stahlbau (steel), Grün & Bilfinger and Heinrich Butzer (concrete) 1946
August Klönne and Stahlbau Albert Liesegang (steel), Philipp Holzmann AG (concrete) 1956
Hein, Lehmann & Co. and Krupp Industrietechnik GmbH and Thyssen Engineering GmbH (steel) 1986[1]
Construction start1946, 1956, 1986
Construction end1948, 1959, 1987
Construction costDM 14,000,000[1]
Hohenzollern Bridge

Hohenzollern Bridge, with Cologne Cathedral and Museum Ludwig in the background
Coordinatessee above
CrossedRiver Rhine
LocaleCologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany[2]
Preceded byCathedral Bridge
DesignArch bridge with suspended deck (1911)[2]
Width32.45 metres (106.5 ft) (deck)[2]
Longest span167.75 metres (550.4 ft)[2]
No. of spans118.88 metres (390.0 ft) - 167.75 metres (550.4 ft) - 122.56 metres (402.1 ft) (1911)[2]
ArchitectFranz Heinrich Schwechten (1911)[2]
Construction start1907
Construction end1911
Collapsed6 March 1945[2]

The Hohenzollern Bridge (German: Hohenzollernbrücke) is a bridge crossing the river Rhine in the German city of Cologne (German: Köln). It crosses the Rhine at kilometre 688.5. Originally, the bridge was both a railway and road bridge. However, after its destruction in 1945 and subsequent reconstruction, the bridge has been only accessible to rail and pedestrian traffic.

It is the most heavily-used railway bridge in Germany with more than 1,200 trains crossing daily,[3] connecting the Köln Hauptbahnhof and Köln Messe/Deutz stations.


The bridge was constructed between 1907 and 1911 after the demolition of old bridge, the Cathedral Bridge (Dombrücke). The Cathedral Bridge was unable to handle the increasing rail traffic imposed by the inauguration of the Köln Hauptbahnhof.[citation needed] The new bridge was named after the House of Hohenzollern, the rulers of Prussia and German Emperors. (At the time, Cologne formed part of the Prussian Rhine Province.)

The president of the Railway Directorate Cologne, Paul von Breitenbach, started planning the construction and handed over this work to his successor Rudolf Schmidt in 1906. The railway engineer Fritz Beermann headed the project; under his direction Friedrich Dirksen worked out the designs. The construction of the Hohenzollern Bridge took place from 1907 to 1911; Kaiser Wilhelm II inaugurated it on 22 May 1911.[4]

The bridge consisted of three adjacent bridge parts, each with three iron truss arches (passage openings) in the longitudinal direction to accommodate four railway tracks and a road. Although the location of the bridge and of the railway station were already controversial in previous structures, the Hohenzollern Bridge adopted the orientation of the previous bridge on the central axis of the cathedral.

Four equestrian statues of Prussian kings and German emperors of the Hohenzollern family flank each ramp. The Cathedral Bridge was already adorned with the statues of Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia by sculptor Gustav Blaeser and Kaiser Wilhelm I by Friedrich Drake, which now stand on the right (east) bank of the Rhine (see pictures above). In addition sculptor Louis Tuaillon made the equestrian statues of Friedrich III and, during his lifetime, of Wilhelm II, which were placed on the left (west) bank of the Rhine (see pictures below). The statues symbolize the era of Prussian rule in the Rhine Province.

The Hohenzollern Bridge functioned as one of the most important bridges in Germany during World War II (1939-1945); even constant daily airstrikes did not badly damage it. On 6 March 1945, German military engineers blew up the bridge as Allied troops began their assault on Cologne.

After Germany surrendered on 8 May 1945, the bridge was initially made operational on a makeshift basis, but soon reconstruction began in earnest. By 8 May 1948, pedestrians could again use the Hohenzollern Bridge.

The southern road traffic decks were removed so that the bridge now only consisted of six individual bridge decks, built partly in their old form. The surviving portals and bridge towers were not repaired and were demolished in 1958. In 1959, reconstruction of the bridge was completed.

During the 1980s, the bridge was renovated with two new tracks. A minimal portion of the old road ramp on the Deutz side was preserved, together with cobblestones and tram tracks. The rest was removed in connection with the construction of the Kölntriangle development and converted into a pedestrian and bike path.

The Hohenzollern Bridge now regularly has over 1,200 trains passing through daily.[3] The total length of the Hohenzollern Bridge is 409.19 meters (1,342.5 ft).


  • Part of the Hohenzollern Bridge, which was blown up in 1945, was used to rebuild the last Ruhr Bridge, the Karl Lehr Bridge in Duisburg.
  • For the Kirchentag 2007, the arches of the Hohenzollern Bridge were temporarily partially covered with red cloths, so that the bridge represented a stylized fish (the symbol of the Kirchentag).
  • Since late summer 2008, the custom of love padlocks, which originated in Italy, has been placed on the bridge. The question of the weight and number of them, which occasionally arises in this context, was answered differently; estimates are said to range between two (April 2011)[5] and 15 tons (September 2011)[5] with a number of allegedly 40,000 love padlocks. The German Bahn saw no danger for the bridge statics with both weights. In June 2015, the number of locks was estimated at 500,000.[6]
  • At the eastern bridgehead on the Deutz side, the German Alpine Association has been maintaining a public climbing facility with a wall area of around 850m2 since 1998.
The Hohenzollern Bridge (center) about six weeks after its destruction in 1945
Hohenzollern Bridge at night
The Hohenzollern Bridge (right) seen at night from the right (east) bank of the Rhine at Deutz.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Hohenzollernbrücke (1987) at Structurae
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Hohenzollernbrücke (1911) at Structurae
  3. ^ a b DB Bahn: Hauptbahnhof Köln – Drehkreuz des Westen (in German)
  4. ^ Lothar Hammer: Köln: Die Hohenzollernbrücke und die deutsche Brückenarchitektur der Kaiserzeit. S. 31,90,97. (Abweichende Datumsangaben in Helmut Fußbroich: Gedenktafeln in Köln mit Bezug auf Ulrich Krings: Der Kölner Hauptbahnhof, Landeskonservator Rheinland, Arbeitshefte, Bd. 22, S. 37)
  5. ^ a b "Liebesschlösser keine Gefahr für Hohenzollernbrücke". koeln.de (in German). Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  6. ^ "Liebesschlösser an der Kölner Hohenzollernbrücke". Kunst und Physik (in German). 7 August 2015. Retrieved 29 May 2020.

Further reading[edit]