Heidelberg’s Arch Bridge

A bridge, a passenger boat and a castle on the hill

This long, old and narrow town along the great river Neckar is a living museum in itself. I would walk aimlessly around exploring the town without minding where I’ll end up. This time I found myself in the town’s old bridge. They call it alte brücke, the old bridge, the most beautiful of all bridges in Germany!

The bridge and its surroundings presents a lovely post cardy scene. There’s something with old bridges that makes you feel good about things. With the picturesque backdrop of the hills on the one side and the alstadt and all its baroque houses on the other, the area continues to draw flocks of tourist like ants being drawn naturally to sugar. What did Goethe, Rizal, Victor Hugo and Twain felt when they crossed this wonderful bridge for the first time? I’m sure they felt good about it.

I read that it had been destroyed around 1689 and 1693. There was war between the protestant English and Spanish forces – yes, in Germany believe it or not and the bridge had been badly damaged during this period. Early records shows the bridge being mentioned as early as 11th century. How many reconstructions it had gone under? No one’s sure. An old illustration of the bridge shows it having a wooden roof. The gates on the end of the bridge had a very interesting Moorish form but none the less it was beautifully constructed and conserved. In Tayabas the Franciscans built an arch bridge not as long and wide but as spectacular and elegant. Considering that both were built on top of a river bed and unpredictable water current in a time building technology was not as advanced and efficient is testament to an incredible engineering feat.

There are several extant examples of these bridges in our land. We definitely have more to gain preserving what remains of our heritage structures. They are monuments to what had been achieved in the past. Unfortunately, many of these structures are presented by educators as mere remnants of oppression and of the colonial phase. I’ve heard these silly arguments in my life and consider such as ignorant and empty opinions. Such assessment only serve to diminish our peoples interest in Filipino history.

I have not heard of an Egyptian complain about the pyramids because it was built by brutal labor but I know the Talibans did dynamited to pieces the world heritage giant standing Buddha’s of Bamiyan. Their rational is as mad as those that declare Spanish era structures historically useless and irrelevant.

Our actions towards heritage conservation define the level of our historical understanding and appreciation. Right now, we’re lagging behind in heritage conservation. Even communist Vietnam is doing better than us with their drive to preserve the colonial buildings left behind by the French. Those who do well as a country are those who protects their historical structures and continuously promote history, culture and arts. While those who thrash theirs are clearly headed down.

April 2012

Taken on a different day. A sunnier day!

Young men paddling along the river Neckar

What a wonderful day it was.

The gate bridge of Heidelberg


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