The River Pegnitz: Hay Bridge to Love Island (about 400 m)The River Pegnitz between Hay Bridge and Love Island will again be one of the focuses of DIE BLAUE NACHT / „The Blue Night“ Art Competition. The course of the river and the bridges spanning it are described below.
A stretch of around 14 kilometres of the River Pegnitz flows from east to west across the city, dividing the Old Town of Nuremberg into the Sebald Old Town (north) and the Lorenz Old Town (south). Its name is derived from the pre-Celtic word “paginiza” meaning muddy, sandy river. It was never navigable, but has always been rich in fish. Until the 1960s, there was even commercial fishing along this river. In past centuries the River Pegnitz had to take in a great deal, but also threatened to take over the city itself. Those days are past now. Danger of flooding was minimised by building measures after WW II.
Going from east to west, the Hay Bridge is followed by the Museum Bridge, then the Meat Bridge. Via a small footbridge, the so-called “Grinders’ Bridge”, there is access from the northern part of the Old Town to the Trödelmarkt (Brokers’ Row) and its eastern tip, the so-called “Love Island”. Here, there is a small lawn area with a low stone enclosure towards the water.
Heubrücke / Hay Bridge
Hay Bridge (close to the Schuldturm – Debtors’ Tower) spans the southern arm of the River Pegnitz and connects the Vordere Insel Schütt (front part of Schütt Island) to the Lorenz part of the Old Town. It was originally a wooden bridge behind the guard’s walkway on the penultimate town wall of 1320/25. Because it was close to the Men’s Debtors’ Tower, it was also called “Schuldbrücke” (Debtors’ Bridge). In 1485, it was replaced by a stone construction, and in the 19th century it was widened. The crossing was called “Hay Bridge” in 1488, after the municipal hay market was shifted from today’s Theresienplatz to Schütt Island, where in the same year, the hay weighing scales were installed. Today, roadway surface and balustrades are modern, but below, the two arches of the original construction have remained.
The only inner-city vehicle access to the River Pegnitz for fire fighting water is located nearby, offering good access for activities on the River Pegnitz. NB: car traffic!
Museumsbrücke / Museum Bridge
Museum Bridge is 55 metres long and 19.8 metres wide. Its foundation consists of three circular arch segments. Since 1954, it has been a reinforced concrete construction. Only the façades are sandstone.
This is most probably the location of Nuremberg’s first bridge. The bridge was also named “Discalced Bridge” after the adjacent Franciscan monastery. In 1474, the original wooden bridge was replaced by a stone bridge with two arches. This was destroyed by the flood of 1595, after which a temporary wooden bridge was built. This was not replaced by a stone bridge until 1700.
The superstructures on the pulpit-like balconies, in the east carry inscriptions praising Emperor Leopold I and King Joseph I, and in the west, remarks on the bridge’s history. The names “Königsbrücke” (King’s Bridge) and “Josephsbrücke" (Joseph’s Bridge), however, did not gain acceptance. Instead, the bridge was finally named after the house of the “Museum Association” (a social and reading club) which was established in the former monastery precinct in 1809.
Damaged in the war, the Museum Bridge was demolished in 1954 and a far wider bridge was constructed, basically following the appearance of the 1700 bridge. The new bridge was given a third arch which forms the inlet to an underground spillway, the “Schwabenwehr” (Swabian Weir).
Museum Bridge is the bridge with the highest pedestrian traffic. Situated on the route between the main train station past St Lawrence’s Church towards the Main Market Square, it is the main transition between the Lorenz and the Sebald parts of the Old Town. During Blue Night it is also one of the most frequented locations. No car traffic.
Fleischbrücke / Meat Bridge
Meat Bridge with its one natural stone arch of 27 metres width and a pillar height of 4.2 metres, spans the River Pegnitz at its narrowest point. It is 61 metres long and 15.3 metres wide. It connects one of Nuremberg’s pedestrian precincts – Kaiserstraße – with the Main Market Square. Its name derives from the Meat House formerly located here. The majority of inner-city and transit traffic went across this bridge. After its wooden predecessor had been destroyed by fire or flooding, a first stone bridge with two arches was constructed in 1487 which fell victim to the 1595 spring floods.
Between 1588 -1591, Nuremberg City Council decided to replace it with a bridge modelled on the Venice Ponte di Rialto erected across the Canal Grande. The one-arch bridge is based on a foundation of over 2000 wooden posts. It was the technically most important bridge construction of the late Renaissance period in Europe, and was such a stable construction that it even braved the bombs of WWII.
In the course of the development of the River Pegnitz, it was originally planned to demolish this monument. But after the construction of the underground spillway, the historic Meat Bridge could be preserved.
In 1599, a side portal with ox was erected on the north side (Inscription: “Omnia habent ortus suaque in crementa sed ecce quem cernis nunquam bos fuit hic Vitulus“ – “All things have an origin and grow, but lo, the ox you see here never was a calf.” In the centre of the bridge, there are pulpit-shaped balconies on both sides.Ground: paving stones. No car traffic.
Power supply along the River Pegnitz is possible, with SCHUKO-type German standard electrical socket./ 10 A
Photos by: Pirko Julia Schröder