The Göltzschtalbrücke viaduct is the largest brick bridge in the world.


The Viaduct or Göltzschtalbrücke Bridge is a stunning example of 19th century engineering. This is a 4-level arched railway brick bridge connecting the banks of the Goelch River in the eastern part of Germany, near the city of Nechkau.

general description

  • The length of the bridge is 574 meters.
  • The width at the base is 23 meters.
  • The width at the top is 9 meters.
  • The maximum height is 78 meters.

The bridge consists of 4 levels, and the total number of arches is a little less than a hundred, there are "only" 98. The upper level consists of 29 arches, the largest of which is 30,9 meters wide.
There are two railway lines across the bridge.


History of construction

The bridge was built from 1846 to 1851 as part of the railway between Saxony and Bavaria. It is currently part of the Leipzig-Hof line, near the Netschkau station.

Rapidly developing Germany needed railways. In particular, it was necessary to lay a branch between Saxony and Bavaria. The main problem was the difficulty of laying a road in the Golch river valley.

In the hope of finding an optimal, inexpensive and feasible construction plan, in January 1845 a competition was announced for the development of the bridge design in all major German magazines. The main prize was 1000 thalers (an impressive sum in those days).

As a result, 81 proposals were submitted. But none of them satisfied the management, as none of the applicants were able to prove, through structural analysis, that the bridge was able to withstand heavy train operation. True, the prize was awarded to four, the most successful projects, which subsequently were never implemented.

It is interesting to read:  Heidelberg Castle and the largest wine barrel in the world

The chairman of the jury, Professor Johann Andreas Schubert, studied all the projects presented for a long time and subsequently designed the bridge himself. His work was based on data from the structural analysis of the Lebnica viaduct, which was commissioned in the summer of 1845.

By the way, the viaduct in Lebnica was the first bridge on the planet to undergo a complete structural analysis.

The Göltzschtalbrücke viaduct is built mainly of brick. Such an unusual choice was dictated by the abundance of loam in the surroundings, which made it possible to quickly and economically produce bricks almost on the spot. Granite was only to be used in certain key segments of the bridge.
The first stone of the viaduct was laid on May 31, 1846.

During construction, the plan was slightly adjusted due to the fact that the part of the ground on which the bridge was supposed to rest turned out to be less solid than previously thought. To address this issue, project chief engineer Robert Wilk replaced the arches in the middle with one large central arch. This only added to the incredible impression of this structure.

Göltschtalbrücke viaduct

Viaduct in numbers

The Göltzschtalbrücke viaduct was a great success for its time.

Every day, about 20 brick factories along the railway line produced 50 bricks with non-standard dimensions 000 × 28 × 14 cm. In total, 6,5 bricks were used to build the bridge. Their total volume was 26 021 cubic meters.

23000 tree trunks were used to make the scaffolding.
The cost of construction of the viaduct is estimated at 2,2 million thalers.

A total of 1736 people took part in the construction of the bridge. 31 of them died during construction. Despite all the difficulties, the bridge was opened on July 15, 1851. At that time, it became not only the largest brick bridge in the world, but also the tallest railway bridge on the planet.

It is interesting to read:  Palais-Royal garden (le jardin du Palais-Royal) in Paris

Humanity developed quite quickly, so the viaduct soon lost the title of the highest railway bridge. However, it still retains the proud title of the largest brick bridge on the planet.

Göltschtalbrücke viaduct

Bridge Göltzschtalbrücke in the modern world

The viaduct proved so popular that in 1883 a museum was opened in the nearby Milau Castle. He allocated an entire room for the exposition of the Göltzschtalbrücke viaduct. Here you can see a scale model of the forests, copies of the original plans, a XNUMXD map of the region and photographs taken during the construction of the bridge.
In 1930, the reconstruction of the upper layer of reinforced concrete was carried out.

Between 1955 and 1958 the masonry was completely restored. The Göltzschtalbrücke viaduct is part of the so-called Saxon-Franconian highway, which was restored from 1997 to 2000.

Göltschtalbrücke viaduct

There are many hiking trails around the bridge. They give an excellent indication of the actual magnitude of this technical masterpiece.

Göltschtalbrücke viaduct

The infamous Göltzschtalbrücke Viaduct

The bridge has a bad reputation. It is sometimes called the Suicide Bridge. For more than 150 years of the bridge's existence, many people jumped from it.

In August 2001, three teenagers decided to end their lives by jumping from a bridge. In 2002, in just 8 months, 8 cases of suicide were registered here. Since then, the bridge has been under close police surveillance.

Interesting Facts

  1. 10 kilometers to the south, on the same line, another viaduct called Elster was built. It is very similar to the Göltzschtalbrücke Viaduct, but is much smaller in size.
  2. The final stop of the Waidakt Reichenbach-Göltsch railway is called the Gölç Viaduct. It is located in the river valley below the bridge.
  3. During World War II, the Wehrmacht troops planned to blow up the bridge, but fortunately this did not happen.
  4. Between 2006 and 2008, € 2,2 million was invested in a new elevator system to carry out repair work on the bridge.
It is interesting to read:  Wilhelmstein - square island in Germany

Getting there