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Marienbrucke, Neuschwanstein, Germany

The Marienbrücke at Neuschwanstein, in Hohenschwangau, Germany, is probably one of the most photographed bridges in the world. This status is almost entirely due to one important feature of the bridge, a feature unlike any other bridge: a captive audience, numbering in the thousands. Every day of the year, thousands of tourists stand around in the courtyard of the famous castle, waiting for the reserved time on their tour ticket. All of them are standing, waiting, with plenty of time on their hands, all holding cameras, and all looking around for something dramatic and picturesque to serve as a backdrop for their selfies. And what is there to see from the courtyard? The Marienbrücke.

The dates reported for its construction vary. Some sources claim it was built as a wooden bridge in the 1850s but was then rebuilt as the current iron bridge in the 1880s, during the construction of Neuschwanstein. Even though it is a mile away from the castle, it is far more than just a tiny, old iron bridge framed against the trees in the distance. It is not an obstructed view blocked by trees; it is not a view down onto the top of it; and it is not an oblique view from an angle. Instead, the bridge is suspended in mid-space, at about the same elevation as the courtyard, directly across the gorge. In the far distance hovering above the bridge are snow-capped Alps. In the medium distance are the tree-covered hillslopes of the foothills. Then, these hillslopes are dramatically ripped open by a rock-walled chasm through which pours a narrow but enormously high waterfall. Spanning the chasm with a few gravity-defying iron bars is the bridge itself. Although there are plenty of iron bridges from the 1880s around, this one suddenly becomes more impressive for the engineering feat that must have been required to place the bridge in this location.

I have provided a full description of the Marienbrücke in my book, Bridgespotting Part 2: A Guide to Even More Bridges that Connect People, Places, and Times.

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