Rakotzbrücke: ‘The Devil’s Bridge’ which Looks Straight Out of a Fairytale
Located in Kromlauer Park, Gablenz, Saxony in Germany, the Rakotzbrücke is also known as the ‘Devil’s Bridge’. In medieval Europe, bridges that were built out of stone or masonry were known as ‘devil’s bridges’ as they had an unusual architectural design and incorporated newly developed technologies that fascinated the contemporary populace. There are many similar Devil’s bridges across Europe, and each of them having a folktale associated with their origin.
The majority of the Devil’s bridges can be found in France (numbering to 40), while the others can be found peppered all over Europe, including in Bulgaria, Switzerland, Estonia, Slovenia, Italy, Romania, United Kingdom, and Spain. The Rakotzbrücke in Germany, however, is one of the most beautiful Devil’s bridges to be found across all of Europe
Origin of the Rakotzbrücke
It is believed that the bridge was built in the year 1860, and was commissioned by a knight named Friedrich Herrmann, who belonged to the local town of Kromlau.
Nestled in the forest of Kromlauer Park, the Rakotzbrücke or the ‘Devil’s Bridge’ is believed to be a miraculous and dangerous marvel that was apparently, according to local folktales, built by Satan himself. The bridge was built using local stones, and completed by hand to form a perfect half-circle. When the water reflects the bridge, it is deceptive as it gives the illusion of a perfect circle upon the stagnant glassy water of the lake.
According to local legends, the knight who built the bridge called upon the Devil for help. He is believed to have convinced the Devil to help him finish building the bridge, on the condition that the Devil would have the first living thing to cross the bridge for himself. The builders supposedly agreed to this condition and the Devil helped them finish building the bridge. However, they tricked the Devil by making a hen or a goat cross the bridge first, which angered the Devil. The Devil killed the animal before leaving, and the builders were saved. However, one of the legends say that the builder sacrificed himself to the Devil to save the community
Structure of the Rakotzbrücke
The Rakotzbrücke can be found within the Azalea and Rhododendron Park, which is approximately 3.73 miles away from the Germany – Poland border and is 35 metres long. The park is a perfect example of an English garden, containing several water bodies like lakes and ponds, and Gothic architecture. The park is accessible by the public, except for the bridge which is closed, and no one is allowed to cross it to preserve the ancient fragile structure.
Another interesting aspect of the bridge is that the bridge has thin rock spirals on either side, which look like the natural basalt columns that are quite commonly occurring in Germany. The bridge is a perfect mixture of fieldstone and basalt, and is an absolutely stunning and fairytale-esque sight.
Tourism in Rakotzbrücke
According to most tourists, the best time to visit the Rakotzbrücke is during autumn, when nature is in all its colourful glory. The surrounding landscape has different hues and the view of the bridge is almost surreal.
Summer is not the ideal time to visit the Devil’s bridge, as it remains extremely crowded during this season. During the winters, the sun is not out for too long, and the lake remains frozen, which makes it difficult for people to see any reflections. However, when it begins to get a little warmer, the snow begins to melt and creates shimmering reflections of the bridge on the ice.
The popular way to reach the Kromlauer Park that houses the Rakotzbrücke Devil’s Bridge, is via car- amounting to a roughly two-hour drive from Berlin. It must be noted that other than this bridge, there is not much to see in Kromlauer Park. However, this does not typically deter tourists as the drive up to the park, with its spectacular rustic landscape, is worth the effort. However, as there is not much to see in the immediate vicinity other than the bridge itself, tourists typically visit the Rakotzbrücke Devil’s Bridge on their way to the next destination.
Key Destinations Near the Rakotzbrücke
The UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Muskau Park, is located on the border of Germany and Poland, and is another landscaped park. It is rather picturesque with its gardens and the castle, and not too far from there is the quaint town of Görlitz, where one of Wes Anderson’s brilliant movies, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ was shot.
If one ventures further south, there is a wonderful adventure park called, Kulturinsel Einsiedel, which appeals to children and adults alike. The amusement park has numerous hidden hallways and secret passages, which are rather appealing to an adventurous soul.
Renovation of the Bridge in 2018
The bridge was under renovation through 2018, and according to the locals, it would take a year to complete the re-construction. The bridge, as well as the lake was fenced in for the very same reason. For people who only visit the bridge, it would always be considered to wise to check if it was available for public viewing or not.
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