Vienna has more than 1.7000 bridges
Let’s build a bridge together to the past: it’s the year 1980, and the Reichsbrücke (imperial bridge) is being opened with pomp and ceremony for the third time. The first Reichsbrücke at this location was known as the Kronprinz-Rudolf-Brücke (Crown Prince Rudolf bridge), opened in 1876. After the crown prince killed himself it become known derogatorily as the “suicide’s bridge”, but fortunately the name Reichsbrücke was able to establish itself. Soon however the romantic bridge on its five pillars was no longer able to cope with the increasing traffic, and in 1937 it was replaced by the second Reichsbrücke.
“The importance attached to the bridge by the people of Vienna through its turbulent past only increased with its collapse.” The historian Peter Payer on the often-faltering, but nevertheless undisputed queen of the Vienna bridges, the Reichsbrücke.
The city’s inhabitants were proud of their chain bridge, and remained that way until 1st August 1976. In the early hours of the morning the bridge simply collapsed without warning into the Danube.
In Vienna there are more than 1,700 bridges
if you include, as the City of Vienna does, public stairways as vertical bridges. Not all of them have a history as dramatic as the Reichsbrücke but many are well worth seeing, such as the Löwenbrücke, also known as the Schemerlbrücke, in the nineteenth district, designed by the famous Jugendstil (Art Nouevau) architect Otto Wagner. He also designed the elevated urban railway line of what is today the underground U6, the so-called Stadtbahnbögen, which are also classified as bridges. Or the Hohe Brücke (high bridge) over Tiefer Graben (deep trench) in the first district: here you can see how uneven Vienna actually is!
Among the “vertical bridges” the Fillgraderstiege in the 6th district and the Strudlhofstiege in the 9th district, the latter of which gave its name to the Austrian writer Heimito von Doderer’s famous novel, are especially worth seeing. But regardless of which one you cross, Vienna’s bridges will always offer you a new way of seeing things. And you can enjoy the view with complete peace of mind: no bridge has collapsed since the 1970s!
Text: Manuela Graf-Staudinger und Verena Brandtner Fotos: Christine Wurnig