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The road over the Gotthard Pass was built between 1827 and 1830 and paved after 1940

Chaussee is the outdated name for a well-developed, planned country road. Kunststraße was the German expression for Chaussee.

Word history

The word Chaussee ? / i ( f. ) was borrowed from the French chaussée in the 18th century , which in turn goes back to the Gallo-Roman via calciata and means street with pounded stones . Audio file / audio sample

The first contemporary translations of the word were Straßendamm and Hochweg , roughly equivalent to the English highway . Adelung criticized around 1790: "Some recent writers have suggested German names for it"; these expressions "do not exhaust the term either, and can be applied to any other kind of artificial path". Kunststraße then established itself, but primarily the French word entered German as a loan word .

Some street names still end with -chaussee. Hamburg got the term in its street names ( Elbchaussee , Eimsbütteler Chaussee ), Berlin also ( Potsdamer Chaussee in Spandau and Zehlendorf, Johannisthaler Chaussee , Buckower Chaussee ), while in Bremen in 1914 the Chausseen were renamed Heerstraßen by a decision of the citizens . In Aachen and Münster / W. on the other hand, the expression Steinweg is used, which can also be found in Flemish as steenweg .


Former stone railway on Berlin-Potsdamer Chaussee , partially preserved as the median of today's B 1 , here in the Berlin district of Nikolassee .

Chausseen or artificial roads were developed country roads with a solid pavement that were planned by an engineer and therefore ran much more straightforwardly. Of the then usual roads and paths it also differs in that in addition to the road surface and the roadway or base is constructed. Retaining walls and galleries were also built in particularly challenging terrain . According to Adelung , the Chaussee was "an elevated path made of pebbles or broken stones through art, which distinguishes such a path from a dam that is paved with stones".

In addition to the pavement, a road is characterized by an extensive drainage system . By a permeable support layer and the slight curvature of the road surface could rainwater in the often accompanying drainage ditches (ditches) are derived.

The Chaussee often consisted of a stone railway and a summer path . The stone pathway was the fortified part with a base layer of gravel or broken stone in a pack layer as a substructure and a top layer of sand-loam mixture. The summer path (for unshod animals) was next to the stone railway, was unpaved or only slightly paved and could not be used in winter. Regular tree planting made the advantages of an avenue usable, such as protection from sun and wind and better orientation. Further road equipment included continuous stationing , for example with milestones .

Increasingly high demands were placed on the alignment (routing). For example, “the smallest possible distance between two given points” is required as well as “no too great inclination against the horizontal plane” (three to five percent) in order to keep the need for leader or the demands on the brakes ( escapement ) low; it should offer alternative options (24–30  feet wide, i.e. eight to ten meters), and also be flood-proof, that is to say it should be raised to a road embankment where it leads through lowlands.

Origin and spread of the road construction method

The first streets of the Chaussee type were built in Western Europe in the early 18th century, based on the Holland of the Baroque; in Swabia, for example, between Oettingen and Nördlingen, the first street in the new Chaussee construction was built in 1753.

The concept of the highways was developed in the Netherlands in the 18th century with brick fortification of the artificial dams, then in England - as macadamised causeways (dt. Chausseen with macadam ) of the road construction inspector John Loudon McAdam (* 1756) with gravel - and France further developed from there it came through the French occupation of Prussia under Napoleon I (1807-1813) to the German-speaking area. The brick streets of the Dutch type were used for the expansion of the Austro-Hungarian military border in the Banat , where stone was in short supply. By creating Chausseen, the number of stone boulders on and along the fields in northern Germany was significantly reduced.

With the Chaussee concept of the 18th and 19th centuries, the technical standard of long-distance transport on the Roman roads was re-established in Europe .

Role of the highway in the road network

With the development of express mail, the term moved closer and closer to the concept of a trunk road , the meaning of which goes beyond convenience in individual transport and is of state interest. In Prussia , especially after the Stein-Hardenberg reforms (from 1807), road construction certainly served military purposes as well. This created a basis for the improved exchange of goods in the early industrial era before the construction of the railway began . For the Altona-Kieler Chaussee , which opened in 1832, for example, the advantage is quantified: the stagecoach needed 16 hours on the old country road, and only nine hours on the slightly longer Chaussee. A messenger on horseback covered the distance in six hours. Because of the more stable substructure and the smoother surface, a horse-drawn vehicle could carry three times the load.

Historic Chausseehaus in Lausa on the road between Dresden and Königsbrück , today part of the B 97 and St 59.

Along the Chausseen, at a distance of about one to one and a half hours , a mile at that time , road houses for the road toll takers were built, an early concept of road tolls . In the post of the roadside attendant with his responsibility for a section of the route, there is also the forerunner of the state-organized road maintenance department, which goes beyond a roadside attendant . The road keepers were subordinate to a road builder as the road construction inspector responsible for this road.

The traffic standardization and road traffic regulations thus received an upswing. Pierer cites around 1860:

“Highway regulations, which usually determine the weight that a carter may load, the track a wagon must have, etc. the width of the wheel rims (the 6-inch wheel rims either pay no or only very little cash because they benefit the Ch.; in other countries narrow wheel rims are forbidden for freight transport), the locking in places where it is not entirely is necessary, forbid, forbid keeping the track, determine the evasive action (mostly on the right, only in Austria on the left), set penalties for driving on the footbridges, etc. "

The road is also important in terms of urban development . This concept started to bring long-distance traffic directly to the city ​​gates in the sense of a priority road . With the demolition of the city fortifications in the early days of the later 19th century were Avenue and the Boulevard as EU urban axis or EU urban ring road to the access road .

Protestant imperial city Schweinfurt (dark yellow) in the Hochstift Würzburg (pink) with the Würzburg – Meiningen road as a western bypass

Political reasons led to the construction of the Würzburg – Meiningen road, which was completed in 1796 . The old north-south connection through the Würzburg monastery led through the Protestant imperial city of Schweinfurt . That is why the Chaussee was led past the imperial city territories as a western bypass, as one of the oldest bypass roads .

Depending on the type of financing, there are district highways that were the responsibility of the district administrations. For example, many streets in Berlin lie on the course of Kreis-Chausseen, which were laid out and administered by the surrounding districts in Prussia and which came to urban areas with the formation of Greater Berlin (see streets and squares in Berlin ). Incidentally, in the case of the general interest of the state in Prussia, highways were paid for from the king's treasury - the Königs-highways . For the development of the surrounding area of ​​the Prussian capital, on the other hand, share highways were created by the interested users. "Actie-Chausseen, executed under the same circumstances [namely: built by an association of several private individuals] and entitled to levy the customary road toll for certain years, after which the state levies it ..."


Contemporary literature:

  • Arnd: The street u. Road construction. 2nd edition Darmstadt 1831.
  • Umpfenbach: Theory of the new building etc. of the highways. Berlin 1830.
  • Dietlein: Basics of roads, bridges and Hydraulic engineering. Berlin 1832.
  • Heinrich Pechmann : Instructions for building the roads. 2nd edition Munich 1835.
  • Instructions for the construction and maintenance of the artificial streets , Berlin, 1834. Online in the digital state library Berlin , accessed on December 9, 2016

Newer literature:

  • Thomas Gunzelmann: The road construction in the Bamberg monastery in the 18th century and its relics. In: Franconia. 58/6, 2006, pp. 366–376 ( PDF )
  • Wolfgang Wüst: Chausseen in Franconia - Artificial roads based on the French model. In: Erich Schneider (arrangement): Old Franconian pictures. NF, 9th year 2014, Würzburg 2013, ISSN  1862-7404 , pp. 22-24.

Web links

Wiktionary: Chaussee  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b Chaussee, die. In: Johann Christoph Adelung : Grammatical-critical dictionary of the High German dialect . 4th edition. tape 1 . Leipzig 1793 ( ).
  2. a b c d Ulrich Lange: History of Schleswig-Holstein. From the beginning to the present. Wachholtz, Neumünster 1996, no p.
  3. a b c d e f g h i j k l Chaussée . In: Heinrich August Pierer , Julius Löbe (Hrsg.): Universal Lexicon of the Present and the Past . 4th edition. tape 3 . Altenburg 1857, p. 888–890 ( - with a detailed structural summary of the contemporary state of the art).
  4. Chaussée. In: Herders Conversations-Lexikon . tape 2 . Freiburg im Breisgau 1854, p. 73 ( ): "Chaussée, the new art street, an insulated path, slightly arched towards the middle so that the rainwater can drain away, hence a ditch on each side."
  5. ^ JGA Ludwig Helling (ed.): History-statistical-topographical pocket book of Berlin and its immediate surroundings. HAW Logier, Berlin 1830, page 3. Online at, accessed on December 17, 2011.