The Krämerbrücke (the Merchant’s Bridge) is built over the Breitstrom (part of Gera River) and it is more than 600 years old. The bridge is tightly packed with beautiful half-timbered building on both sides, with a small alley in the center. Today (and also in the past, when it was built), the buildings serve as shops for the variety of handmade products that are made there: wood carvings, fabrics, hand-painted ceramics, hand-blown glassware, jewelry, wood carvings, and antiques. You can also enjoy some delicious traditional Thuringian specialties in one of the restaurants on the bridge.
The bridge was originally made out of wood. It was built in 1117 as part of the trade route called Via Regia. But after repeatedly getting burned down the city council decided to rebuild it with a more suitable material. The 79 m long lime and sandstone bridge was completed in 1325. The new bridge had half-timber houses and two churches one at each end of the bridge. There was another big fire in the 15-th century, one that destroyed nearly everything in the city of Erfurt, most of the structures on Krämerbrücke were burned down, but the main structure was intact. After this, the bridge got the current form. It has 32 narrow houses that are three stories high. There is only one of the two bridge churches left, the Church of St. Aegidius.
The ground levels of the houses are mainly used as shops while some the upper levels of the building are still used as private residences. Except for the houses numbered 15, 20, 24 and 33, all houses are municipal property.
The municipal administration maintains a foundation for the conservation of this unique historical monument, the Krämerbrücke Foundation. In the “House of Foundations” (Krämerbrücke 31), a permanent exhibition informs about the past and present of the Krämerbrücke together with a 1:100 model of it.
The bridge is one of the main attractions in the city of Erfurt. The locals consider it as the jewel of the city and celebrate its beauty each year with a festival called Krämerbrückenfest. The festival happens in June every year.
Erfurt is the capital city of Thuringia and the main city nearest to the geographical center of modern Germany. The city had a few notable residents from the cultural history. Martin Luther attended the University of Erfurt and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees of theology there. Luther lived there as a student from 1501 to 1511 and, as a monk, from 1505 to 1511. Johann Sebastian Bach‘s father Johann Ambrosius Bach was born here. Bach’s parents were married in 1668 in a small church, theKaufmannskirche (Merchant’s Church), that still exists on the main square, Anger. Also, The sociologist Max Weber was born in Erfurt.