Devil's Bridge, known locally as "Rakotzbrücke," is a stunning and peculiar bridge located in Kromlau, Germany. Nestled in the heart of the Azalea and Rhododendron Park, this architectural gem is renowned for its unique construction and its ability to create an almost perfect circular reflection in the water below. While the bridge itself is a remarkable example of engineering and design, it also carries a legend that adds to its mystique.
Devil's Bridge was built between 1863 and 1882 during the reign of Friedrich Hermann Rötschke, a local knight and landowner. The bridge's construction is characterized by its graceful, elliptical arch that creates an almost perfect circle when reflected in the calm waters of the Rakotzsee, the small lake it spans. This optical illusion makes it appear as though the bridge forms a complete stone circle.
The bridge is made from locally sourced basalt rocks, carefully stacked to create its distinctive shape. Its dark color and elegant form make it a captivating sight amidst the lush greenery of the surrounding park. The bridge's aesthetic appeal has earned it the nickname "The Devil's Bridge" due to its eerie and otherworldly appearance.
As with many landmarks named "Devil's Bridge" around the world, this one in Kromlau has its own legend attached to it. According to local folklore, the bridge was so challenging to build that the townspeople made a pact with the devil. In exchange for the devil's assistance, the devil demanded the soul of the first living being to cross the bridge. The townspeople agreed, but when the bridge was completed, they tricked the devil by sending a rooster across first. Furious at being outwitted, the devil left, leaving the bridge intact.
While the legend adds a sense of mystery and intrigue to the bridge, it's worth noting that such stories are common in European folklore and often used to explain the construction of remarkable or challenging structures.
Devil's Bridge and the Azalea and Rhododendron Park are part of a protected natural area. Visitors are encouraged to admire the bridge and the surrounding landscape but are prohibited from walking or climbing on the bridge to preserve its delicate structure. The park itself is a popular destination for nature lovers and photographers, particularly during the spring when the azaleas and rhododendrons are in full bloom.
Devil's Bridge in Kromlau, Germany, is a captivating blend of natural beauty and human craftsmanship. Its distinctive elliptical arch, the optical illusion it creates, and the legend that accompanies it make it a must-visit attraction for tourists and a source of local pride. Whether you're drawn to its architectural marvel or the intrigue of its legend, Devil's Bridge continues to enchant visitors from around the world, offering a unique blend of art, nature, and folklore.