SWISS COVERED BRIDGES
There is something fascinating & romantic about wooden covered bridges, at least for those of us living in this century. In the U.S. they have sometimes been called “kissing bridges” because of their reputation as being rendezvous points for young lovers. The fact that they were built to protect the wooden bridges from the elements & keep pedestrians & vehicles dry is of no importance to their admirers. They also make great subjects or backdrops for movie goers, as in “The Bridges of Madison County” or the opening sequence from “Tales from the Darkside”. The U.S. has many covered bridges, as does Switzerland with its many lakes, rivers, and unpassable alpine gorges. Many of these wooden structures, dating back centuries are still in use today.
Anyone who has ever travelled to or has planned to travel to Switzerland has read about the oldest covered bridge in the world – The Chapel Bridge in Lucerne. We introduced you to it and the Spreuer covered bridge in our spotlight on the Canton of Lucerne. Originally built in the mid 1300s, it featured paintings dating back to the 1600s. Tragically the bridge was nearly lost in a fire in 1993. It has been rebuilt and renovated with modern surveillance systems to prevent future fires. The cause of the fire was never firmly established.
Unfortunately, covered bridges tend to be ideal targets for arsonists. We have seen this in the U.S., and Switzerland has had its share too. There is an old adage that says that cats have nine lives. According to the citizens of Büren, their historic covered bridge has seven. The original bridge which spans the Aare River was originally built in 1275. Over the years it has been the victim of fires, floods, & ice floes. The most recent event was the fire that destroyed it in April of 1989. Kurt Schittli, a member of the Arizona Swiss Society & a good friend of the Tucson Swiss Club, was living in Büren at that time. As a firefighter he experienced firsthand the devastating results caused by arsonists. Firefighters from the entire region came to help, unfortunately nothing could be done to save the bridge. It has been rebuilt and once more proudly crosses the river.
With hundreds of covered bridges still in use, some for road traffic although most for pedestrian or cyclist use only, we can only tell you about a few. The highest covered bridge in Europe crosses the Ranft Gorge. Another well-known bridge, the longest covered bridge in Europe, spans the Rhine River connecting the village of Stein in Switzerland with the German City of Säckingen. It was originally built in 1272, but it too was destroyed & rebuilt a number of times over the centuries. The current bridge was completed in 1700 and used as a road bridge until recently. Today it only serves pedestrians. We all have favorite bridges; mine is in Thun and offers a unique opportunity for surfers. Yes! Click here for a peek.
Checkout the videos & web sites by clicking on the various highlighted links above.
A GLIMPSE AT A FEW OF SWITZERLAND’S COVERED BRIDGES
(Click on the individual pictures for a larger view of the bridges)