Dresden′s Blue Wonder gets its original blue back | DW Travel | DW | 13.07.2018
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Dresden's Blue Wonder gets its original blue back

For 125 years Loschwitz Bridge, nicknamed the “Blue Wonder,” has been a landmark in the city on the Elbe. The venerable bridge is more than just a stop on a sightseeing trip, and is heavily traveled.

The light blue steel on this bridge in eastern Dresden is visible from afar. The now narrow Elbe flows between the two sandstone pylons on the river banks. If you cross the river, whether on foot, by bicycle or in a motor vehicle, you'll enjoy fascinating views, but you'll also notice that the bridge is the worse for wear. Its surface is peeling. There are brown flecks on the Blue Wonder, which, on Sunday, July 15th, celebrates the anniversary of its opening 125 years ago – though it won't be repainted in its original color until after the celebrations.

Blaues Wunder wird wieder blau (picture-alliance/dpa/M. Skolimowska)

The Blue Wonder has spanned the Elbe since 1893

The bridge, which is historically listed, is one of the symbols of Dresden and an indispensable link between the districts of Blasewitz and Loschwitz. Tourists sail under it on cruise boats or row in kayaks; people rest, party and kiss in its shadow; teenagers occasionally climb up the pylons to look at Dresden by night, says Reinhard Koettnitz, head of the city's road works and civil engineering department. 

When it was first finished, this cantilever truss bridge was celebrated as a masterpiece and “technological miracle.” The miracle of a bridge without supporting piers in the river and its blue paint gave Loschwitz Bridge its nickname,  the “Blue Wonder.” The structure, with its riveted steel girders, has a total length of 280 meters, spans a good 140 meters between its pylons and weighs 3500 tons. When the Nazis wanted to blow it up in 1945, two courageous citizens, independently of each other, cut the detonator wires to the explosives and saved the bridge from destruction.

Blaues Wunder in Dresden (picture-alliance/dpa/S. Kahnert)

A paddle steamer of the Saxon steamship on the Elbe river

The Blue Wonder adorns countless postcards and is, next to the Frauenkirche and the Zwinger palace, one of the most popular photographic subjects in the city, and a backdrop for selfies, and has long been present on social media channels.  The city invests more than 100,000 euros annually to maintain the structure, which to date has withstood all Elbe floods.

Hochwasser Dresden (picture-alliance/dpa)

In May 2013 the Blue Wonder had to be closed due to the Elbe flood

In 1993, 3000 locals re-enacted the historical stress test performed in July 11, 1893. Back then, according to a newspaper report, “three steamrollers, six four-in-hand horse-drawn rollers, three tram wagons loaded with stones, a fully occupied tramcar, four filled water tank wagons, three coaches, five horses, a loaded goods wagon” on the central section of the bridge.

Dresden (picture-alliance/Bildagentur-online/Exss)

Directly next to the bridge is the traditional restaurant Schillergarten

Nowadays 29,000 vehicles drive over the Blue Wonder every day, 5000 fewer than before the controversial Waldschlösschen Bridge was opened downstream. “The traffic is still heavy,” says Reinhard Koettnitz, head of the office of road works and civil engineering. The bridge's load-carrying capacity is tested at regular intervals and its remaining service life estimated regularly, the next time in 2025. Koettnitz emphasises that the bridge is in no danger of being closed in the near future. He says the Blue Wonder is very old for a steel bridge, and won't last forever, “but I assume it will last for at least another 20 years.” After a quarter of a century the structure is getting a fresh coat of paint. For more than 10 million euros the protective anti-corrosion coating will be renewed – in bluish grey, as it was originally.

Simona Block/ms (dpa, dw)  

The Blue Wonder is only one of the sights in the capital of Saxony. Dresden is famous for its baroque architecture and art treasures.

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