Did you know that there are 1,271 bridges in Luxembourg? Each one is unique owing to its architecture and history. As part of our series, we will shine a light on five bridges. Prepare yourself for a breathtaking journey!
Majestic in appearance, bridges span rivers and roads, overlook ravines and valleys, and dominate the landscape with their architectural beauty. Whether constructed in stone, metal or concrete, they embrace all styles and all historical periods. Luxembourg has 1,271 bridges and footbridges. They include arch bridges, girder bridges, cable-stayed bridges, slant-leg bridges and vault bridges. Some of these structures have an extensive and fascinating history, others are brand new and stand out due to their sheer size and contemporary architecture.
Pont Adolphe (Adolphe bridge)
Two hundred workers were employed on site. This was a majestic feat for the time. Let's travel back to the beginning of the 20th century, or more accurately to the year 1900. This was the date when the pont Neuf (New bridge) or as it more commonly known - the pont Adolphe - was inaugurated. The name was given in homage to Grand Duke Adolphe, who reigned from 1890 to 1905, and who laid the foundation stone of the bridge, on the city side, in 1900. All the stones used for the construction came from Luxembourg quarries, notably from Gilsdorf, Ernzen, Dillingen and Verlorenkost. You could say that this landmark structure is well and truly 'Made in Luxembourg'. Or almost. As the project was considered as a major structural engineering project, the government called upon a foreign engineer who was an expert in the field of large vaults, notably the Frenchman Paul Séjourné.
Following three years of labour, the bridge was opened for traffic in July 1903. It was the Charly tram, named after Charles Rischard, the Minister of Public Works at the time, that was one of the first vehicles to cross the bridge. Its railroad tracks, which traversed the bridge, led it all the way to Echternach.
Charly has long since been decommissioned. Moreover, the route was discontinued in 1954 and a new ultra-modern tram has been gliding across the century-old structure every three minutes since 2019. In order to accommodate the latest generation of trams, the pont Adolphe had to undergo a series of refurbishment works. The structure was strengthened, the width of the bridge was increased from 16 m to 18.70m and the pavements were widened in line with current traffic conditions.
However, despite the numerous metamorphoses it has undergone since its construction, the pont Adolphe has, in its own way, shaped the city's landscape with its unique silhouette. Its majestic double arch is a sight to behold and it spans across the 50-metre deep Pétrusse valley.
Over time, this historic stone colossus has established itself as one of the capital's most popular tourist attractions. The building is a genuine star adorning postcards, photographs, film and drawings.
Pont Rouge (Red bridge)
The Grande-Duchesse Charlotte bridge is the largest bridge in the capital. It links the city centre to the European district on the Kirchberg plateau and is 355 metres long.
It is commonly known as the Red bridge (Rout Bréck) in reference to its colour. However, it is officially named in honour of the Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg, who inaugurated the bridge in 1966.
The bridge was constructed following an international design contest launched by the government in 1957. At that time, the Grand Duchy had held the provisional seat of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) for several years. In order to promote the country as the definitive seat of the ECSC, the government decided to develop the Kirchberg plateau and link this area to the city centre.
The German architect Egon Jux was awarded the contract; he proposed to build a slant-leg steel bridge. Construction began in June 1963 and the works were completed two years later. Before opening for traffic, the bridge underwent an overload test involving twelve 42-ton tanks.
Between 2015 and 2018, major structural works were carried out in order to accommodate the tram. The bridge was widened, the railings were replaced, the road surface was reinforced and two tramway tracks were added.
The renovation of the bridge also included a new coat of paint to refresh its distinctive colour.
The Béinchen is a bridge which was part of the former fortress of Luxembourg in the Pfaffenthal district. The bridge has three small arches and was built between 1684 and 1685 based on a design by Vauban. It connects the valley between the two towers of the gates of Eich and the Val des Bons-Malades.
This iconic bridge, which today is a symbol of the Mullerthal region, only took four months to build between March and July 1879. The wooden balustrade was added later. The bridge marks the border between the municipalities of Waldbillig and Consdorf.
In the quaint village of Ehnen in the Moselle region, there is a famous stone bridge in the form of a donkey's back called Eselsbrücke. At the time, it gave the villagers an alternate route to their vineyards. The age of the bridge which traverses the Ehnerbach is unknown.
Pont Viaduc (Viaduct bridge)
During the past few centuries, the Petrusse river has seen several bridges arch over its banks, connecting the upper town of the capital to the surrounding areas. One of them is the Viaduct, an imposing structure that testifies to the genius of its designers: the engineers Edouard Grenier and Auguste Letellier. The Viaduct bridge was built by a British company between 1859 and 1861.
Prior to its construction, the upper town was accessible via a wooden footbridge called the 'Passerelle'. With the number three having mythical associations, the Viaduct was given a third name 'Vieux Pont' (old bridge); a moniker provided at the beginning of the 20th century following the construction of a new bridge (Adolphe bridge) in 1903.
A slight curvature in the middle of the bridge makes the Viaduct a unique structure. This was part of the defensive strategy of the time when the fortress was still in use: in the event of a siege, the bridge could have been shelled by cannonballs fired in a straight line from the Saint Esprit plateau.
However, during this period of upheaval, the Viaduct remained intact and today stands majestic over the valley at a height of 45m and a total length of 290m.
Viewed from below, the Old Bridge, with its immense vaults that form its 24 arches, resting on pillars measuring up to 30m high, appears even more grandiose. Underneath the bridge in the Pétrusse valley is a skateboard park, winding paths for joggers and a wooded landscape.
A gentle stream of water flows through the valley but it is above that the wave becomes more impressive, in particular the surge of thousands of cars passing over the Viaduct bridge each day.
As part of the modernisation of the transport network of the City of Luxembourg, major structural works were undertaken in spring 2018. The bridge was widened by a few metres in order to create larger pavements for pedestrians, a cycle path, two-lanes for traffic and a bus lane to connect the city centre and the districts to the south.
The Schengen Viaduct
Of all the bridges in Luxembourg, this one is truly monstrous in size. It is 600 metres long, 29 metres wide and the total surface area of the structure is 17,000m2. Spread over a challenging landscape, this bridge had to meet a series of requirements resulting from the particular morphology of the site. It took four years to complete the works.
In November 2002, the Schengen Viaduct finally opened to traffic, which can now travel between Germany and Luxembourg in the southeast of the country.
This motorway bridge runs alongside the Moselle and connects the German A8 near Perl to Schengen via the A13 in Luxembourg. As the Moselle is a shared and a common territory for both countries, this project was co-financed by Luxembourg and Germany. They split the construction costs on a pro-rata basis according to the route constructed in each country. Following an agreement between the two countries concerning the construction of the viaduct, it was decided that Luxembourg would be responsible for the design and construction, while Germany would be responsible for the maintenance.
The Viaduct considerably reduces travel time between Luxembourg and Saarbrücken. Moreover, it is intended to be the platform for mobility at the crossroads of Germany-France-Luxembourg and foster relations, both physical and social, between these countries without borders.
If any bridge can claim to be one of the oldest structures in the country, it is unquestionably the Sauerbréck in Echternach. This bridge with four arches, which connects the Grand Duchy to Germany possibly dates back to Roman times. Although, this statement deserves a little closer attention, because the proof that the construction of this bridge bears the signature of Roman engineers has still not been confirmed to this day.
Despite the differences in opinions, the first reference to this rustic and solid stone bridge can be traced back to 1296 as 'Sur Brucke'. Furthermore, in a document written on 12 December 1462, it is stated that at that time, there was a very large bridge in Echternach, which crossed the Soure (Sûre). However, the bridge was in such a bad state it was said that it may not survive the winter.
And yet it did survive. Nevertheless, in the 17th century, it was in a terrible state. The second span was badly damaged and the fifth had collapsed. The sixth span was probably connected to the left bank by a drawbridge. In an engraving from 1867, one can still make out six spans. Owing to the construction of the Prince Heinrich railway at the end of the 19th century, the last arch on the bank of Echternach was filled.
During the Second World War, a significant part of the bridge was destroyed in 1944. The final blow was delivered during the Rundstedt offensive.
However, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, a new bridge was built in 1949. Named Sauerbréck, it has a wider central arch than its predecessor, ensuring improved water flow in the event of flooding. The statute on the bridge represents the abbot of Echternach Johannes Bertels (1544-1607).