Construction of a new bridge across the Vistula River in Kraków has begun. The new bridge will be for pedestrians and cyclists only and will connect ul. Mostowa in Kazimierz with ul. Budzińskiego in Podgórze. The single span suspension bridge will cross the river at the same point where several earlier bridges have stood, the last of which was dismantled in 1925. This welcome addition to Krakow’s bicycle routes will re-establish a link between Wolnica Square and the historical heart of Podgórze, the Podgórski Market Square, which has been missing for more than 80 years.
Design concept for the new Podgórski Bridge.
The former Podgórski Bridge (officially the Emperor Francis Joseph I Bridge) was built between 1844 and 1850 and stood for 75 years. It was a wooden structure resting on brick pillars and was at the cutting edge of bridge technology when it was built. The Podgórski Bridge was torn down in 1925 when construction began on the Piłsudski Bridge slightly further upstream. The old Podgórski Bridge was in poor repair, was unsuitable for the heavier traffic of the time and its multiple supports impeded navigation of the river. The steel-construction Piłsudski Bridge was designed to carry tram lines, though these were not installed until after World War II, and was located further upstream to create a more direct route along Stradomska and Krakowska and over the river into Podgórze.
Four views of the old Podgórski Bridge dismantled in 1925.
The old Podgórski Bridge was itself a replacement for the earlier Charles Bridge (Karlsbrücke) which was destroyed in the great flood of August, 1813 – the greatest flood in Krakow’s history. Before the Charles Bridge there are records of a floating bridge, a bridge destroyed by the Swedes in 1655, a wooden bridge constructed in the 14th century, and before all of these a ford. The new Podgórski Bridge will be only the most recent in a long line of ill-fated river crossings on this site.
The early 19th century bridgeheads of the Charles Bridge being prepared for new construction.
The massive masonry bridgeheads originally built for the Charles Bridge in 1801 and later used for the Podgórski Bridge remained intact after the latter was dismantled, though few of the thousands of Cracovians who promenade along the banks of the river each weekend could have pointed them out blending as they do into the seamless embankments. Now work has begun they are suddenly blindingly obvious.
Renovation work on ul. Mostowa, gateway to the northern end of the new bridge.
The final stretch of ul. Mostowa leading to the embankment with a rather understated roadworks sign.
The streets leading up to each end of the new bridge are also receiving attention from developers. Both ul. Mostowa (which means ‘Bridge Street’) and ul. Budzińskiego were among the most rundown and neglected roads in the area. Suddenly they are about to become the gateways to a new thoroughfare which should revitalize both banks of the river.
Location of the new Podgórski Bridge showing the restored link between Wolnica Square and Podgórski Market Square.