Rakotzbrücke is one of Europe's Devil’s Bridge, and is located in Azalea and Rhododendron Park Kromlau in Gablenz, Germany. Rakotzbrücke is a thin arch which stretches over the water of Rokotzsee. The town’s knight commissioned the bridge in 1860, and it was constructed using various basalt columns which were shipped from different quarries. It was designed to look like a perfect half circle so that when the light is right and water is still it would create the illusion of a complete circle. The builder decorated both ends of the Devil's bridge with thin rock spirals that look like natural outcroppings.
Most of the Devil’s bridges in Europe are in France (40), while others exists in countries such as Bulgaria, Estonia, Romania, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Spain, Slovenia, and Italy. However, none are as beautiful and unique as Rakotzbrücke, as is considered the most picturesque Devil’s bridge in the world and is preferred by most photographers. Most Devil’s Bridges were built during medieval times and are masonry arches, which represent significant technological achievement. The bridge was of economic or strategic importance to the community.
The Legend Behind the Devil’s Bridge
Rakotzbrücke is known as the Devil’s Bridge because of the colloquialism that the structure is so unique that it must have been built by the devil rather than mortals. According to legends, Satan helped develop all of the Devil’s Bridges in Europe, and in most of the narratives there was some enmity between the Devil and the builders. One legend claims that Satan helped with the construction in exchange for the soul of the first person to cross the bridge when it was complete. However, the builders tricked the devil by luring an animal to cross the bridge first, thus saving the lives of the community. The legend of Rakotzbrücke ends differently, with builder sacrificing himself to Satan to save the rest of the community.
Azalea and Rhododendron Park
Azalea and Rhododendron Park is a 200 acre landscaped park in the municipality of Gablenz, Germany, which is less than 3.73 miles from the Germany-Poland border. It is a unique example of an English garden with numerous lakes and ponds, and has a unique landscape with Gothic architecture. Friedrich Hermann, a nature lover and a knight of Kromlau, commissioned the park in the 19th century. The park is open to the public, can be accessed at any given time, and has no entry fee. The only portion of the park closed to visitors is the bridge, since no one is allowed to walk on the Rakotzbrücke. The bridge is a short walk from the park’s free car parking region.
There are numerous mystical narratives related to the bridge, including one that claims you can discover the mystical powers within yourself if you sail under the bridge on the night of the full moon. Some believe you can see the Devil’s face if you look sideways, while others believe that the Devil’s Bridge is a portal to another world.