The home leg of our walk along the Rhine took us to Hohenzollernbrücke, which is said to be the most heavily used bridge in all of Germany. It was once a rail and traffic bridge, but was destroyed in the Second World War. It was rebuilt as a rail and pedestrian bridge only. Today it connects the two main stations serving Cologne, one sat on either side of the Rhine and separated by only some three quarters of a mile.
There are love padlocks Hohenzollernbrücke – we had already seen some on Südbrücke, a couple of bridges down. Here is a reminder of the ones on Südbrücke:
Love padlocks first started appearing here in 2008. I guess some are dated when they are fastened to the fence. Others are dated many years prior. On a wedding day perhaps? The oldest lock we found was dated 1969.
The most recent lock we found was dated just seven days prior to our visit.
But if we were impressed by the north walkway, we were amazed by its southern counterpart!
Every conceivable nook and cranny had a padlock on it. They spilled off the mesh of the fence and onto the posts, cables and conduits of the bridge. They were fixed to the underside of the steel girders that ran diagonally down and criss-crossed with those running horizontally. They were literally everywhere. How many padlocks were here? The Rhine is 400 meters across at this point, and the mesh stretched right across the Rhine and probably 25 meters to either side. Lets say each mesh panel is 2m across. That means on this side of the bridge there would be about 225 panels. How many padlocks were on each panel? At least a thousand, I thought. Try counting them – I gave up!
So that would be 225,000 padlocks on this side alone, ignoring all the ones that were fixed to places other than the mesh fence. If each padlock weighed an average of, say, 75 grams, then the total weight of the padlocks on this side of the bridge must be about 20 tons! In fact Deutsche Bann, who operate the bridge, threatened to have all of the locks removed a few years ago, citing amongst other things that they imposed an excessive load. They relented after facing a fierce public outcry.
If you ever go to Cologne, make sure you visit the love padlocks of Hohenzollernbrücke! So much love!
We headed off back to our hotel. The next day we left Germany and went back to England. Cologne had been a fantastic break, but we had the coast of Britain to walk round, and we needed to get on with it.
Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):
- Hohenzollernbrücke: N 50° 56.482 E 006° 57.955
Walk Statistics (the entire walk, of which this forms the final part):
- Date of Walk: 19 December 2012
- Total distance covered: 8.64 miles
- CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO INTERACTIVE MAP!!!