Mühlendamm (Berlin)

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Coordinates: 52 ° 30 ′ 55 ″  N , 13 ° 24 ′ 25 ″  E

B1 Mühlendamm Bridge
Mühlendamm Bridge
View from the Fischerinsel to the Mühlendammbrücke
behind it Nikolaikirche , Rotes Rathaus and Molkenmarkt (1978)
use Road traffic, pedestrians
Convicted Bundesstrasse 1
Crossing of Spree
place Berlin center
construction two separate bridge parts
overall length 114.2 m
width 45.2 m
Longest span 70.2 m
Clear height 4.3 m
vehicles per day 2,510 trucks
72,800 vehicles
start of building 1966
completion December 31, 1968
Mühlendamm (Berlin) (Berlin)
Mühlendamm (Berlin)

The Mühlendamm in Berlin is one of the main thoroughfares in the Mitte district and part of Bundesstraße 1 . The name goes back to a dam that was built between 1220 and 1230 and which was used as a weir to operate several water mills . The bridge to cross the Spree , which has existed at this point since the 19th century, was named Mühlendammbrücke ; it runs parallel to the Gertraudenbrücke .

Bridge and road location

The Mühlendamm Bridge, a prestressed concrete bridge over the Spree built in 1968 , connects the southern part of the Spree Island, also known as Fischerinsel , with the Molkenmarkt on the northeastern bank of the Spree. From there, the street from Grunerstrasse and Alexanderstrasse continues to Alexanderplatz in the northeast. In the opposite direction, along Gertraudenstrasse, the Gertraudenbrücke leads over the Spree Canal to Spittelmarkt and from there Leipziger Strasse to Leipziger Platz and Potsdamer Platz .

In addition to the main thoroughfare from Strasse des 17. Juni , Unter den Linden , Schloßplatz and Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse , the Mühlendamm in the historic center of Berlin carries the majority of the traffic between City West ( Kurfürstendamm , Breitscheidplatz and Tauentzienstrasse ) and Alexanderplatz or the north-eastern Berlin districts ( Pankow , Lichtenberg , district Friedrichshain von Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg , Marzahn-Hellersdorf ) and is therefore frequented accordingly.

To the east of the road bridge is the Mühlendammschleuse .

History of the road and the bridge

Artistic and imaginative representation of Berlin (right)
and Cölln (left), around 1400

The Mühlendamm is considered to be the nucleus of the late medieval twin city of Berlin-Cölln , which developed from around 1200 around the Nikolaiviertel with the Olde Markt (old market, today's Molkenmarkt) and the Petriplatz in the city of Cölln on today's Spree island.

Its history is related to the location on a long-distance trade route between the Teltow (from Halle and Wittenberg ) and the Barnim (towards Oderberg and Stettin ), which crossed the Spree river at this narrow and flat point . Created in the last third of the 12th century, the new Spree Pass was created in competition with the previous crossings in Spandau and Köpenick . At first a bridge was built at the ford, which was converted into a weir to regulate the water level , in order to use the water power for various mills . The water level rose on site by around 1.70 meters, which meant that larger ships could also use this route.

With a new evaluation of the building geological map of Berlin in 2003, recent research has determined that the Mühlendamm was by no means built at the narrowest point of the Spree. This point of 160 meters is opposite a significantly narrower point of 80 meters at today's Rathausbrücke . The arm of the Spree had steep banks of around three meters in height at both points, and the water depth was also significantly more than two meters. A ford was therefore out of the question, especially since there was no possibility of ramps. Early German settlers had to think that the much narrower place was more suitable for crossing the Spree than the situation at Mühlendamm and the later Köllnischer Fischmarkt .

The name Mühlendamm ("Molendam tu Berlin") comes from the time the city was founded, when the dam was the only fortified Spree crossing between the cities of Berlin and Cölln. The highways laid out in the Spreetal converged there. At the same time, the mill dam served as a dam for the watermills that were operated from 1220 onwards . The six grain, fulling and cutting mills lay across the river, only a middle section to the ship passage was kept free. A document dated September 28, 1298 proclaims that Molendamm tu Berlin is "busy shipping and rafting".

The lucrative mills were owned by the sovereign from 1448, administered by the Mühlenhof Electoral Office (today the Neue Münze location). The products processed here were offered for sale on the spot in simple wooden stalls. The existing stacking right when reloading ships on their way between Silesia and Hamburg led to the establishment of further dealers, which in turn helped the city treasury to generate good income. There was a lot of market activity on Mühlendamm.

The simple old stalls were rebuilt in 1687 at the behest of the Great Elector in connection with a fortified river crossing in stone:

“In order to give the whole thing a better look, the basement of the building was set up as an arcade, while on the southern side of the Mühlendamm the passage to the so-called Fischerbrücke was decorated with a high portal, over whose keystone the bust of the elector was placed. The five corridors, through which the water is currently flowing into the mills, had Friedrich I built from ashlars by the master builder Soothé in the years 1706 to 1710. "

- Samuel Heinrich Spiker : Berlin and its surroundings in the 19th century

The new sales facilities - six massive vaults - were built according to plans by Johann Arnold Nering and called Mill Colonnades. Above them were often the apartments of the traders and from 1693 a hall that served the merchants for meetings and until 1739 also functioned as a stock exchange . In the latest conversation handbook for Berlin and Potsdam from 1834, the following description of the situation can be found: “[There are] cotton and fashion goods, pastry shops, bookbinding and haberdashery goods, clothes shops, lottery collections and numerous other establishments. [...] The Spree flows under most of the houses and drives the mills. "

View from Molkenmarkt onto Mühlendamm, in the foreground the Ephraim-Palais ; around 1830
Mühlendamm with Mühlendamm building, 1902

After several fires in the following decades, the colonnades were rebuilt from sandstone at the beginning of the 19th century. At that time, Mühlendamm was a busy shopping street.

A newly built 110 meter long lock on Mühlendamm replaced the lock in the Spree Canal, which had been enlarged several times since the Middle Ages . The Spree bed was deepened for the increasing ship transport and the bridge was redesigned. The mills were now an obstacle, which is why the mill operations stopped and the buildings were demolished by 1892.

The Mühlendamm building erected in 1850 , a castle-like flour mill made of red and yellow bricks with towers and battlements , was converted by Hermann Blankenstein into the headquarters of the Städtische Sparkasse by 1893 . The savings bank was previously housed together with the poor administration in the old Berlin town hall. The Berliners called the building the "Normannenburg", which was derived from the name of the fort that had previously existed at this point. But it was a flour store. Gottfried Keller , who stayed in Berlin from 1850 to 1855, mentioned this building in his poem Mühlenromantik with the following rhymes:

“But in Berlin, in the aesthetically awakened,
I saw a mighty Norman festival, brand new and
executed in the best way by the state architect
And it was a flour factory,
tall and splendid with battlements and towers.
Foaming and roaring under the bridge
, the Berliners see the Spree storming in! "

The mills were gradually decommissioned from 1880, because steam engines and electricity were now available as energy sources.

For the first time, after the river bed had deepened by around two meters, the city authorities had a steel structure that can also be recognized as a bridge built. In addition, further bridges had to be built in order to be able to cross the channel and the chamber lock. Seven different iron bridge constructions finally connected the lock with the two banks of the Spree. These included the Fischerbrücke and Mühlendammbrücke road bridges , the pillars of which were made of cast iron and which were supported on iron girders below the roadways. The Mühlendammbrücke was given a 15 meter wide lane for the now enormously increased carriage traffic. For pedestrians there were 8.5 meter wide sidewalks on both sides. The new arched Mühlenweg bridge over the Great Channel , reserved for pedestrians, was 4.5 meters wide and decorated with ornaments. The large new bridge was inaugurated in June 1894.

Partial view of the lock, on the left behind the Märkisches Museum

Between 1936 and 1940 the Mühlendamm was redesigned again in preparation for the major project “ World Capital Germania ”, whereby the Mühlendamm building and the weir disappeared, as did the Ephraim Palais on the corner of Poststrasse. The beginning of the Second World War prevented the completion of the renovation work. Two steel truss bridges, each 35 meters long and eleven meters wide, were available on both sides of the lock and a steel beam bridge over the weir canal. In the last days of the war, the bridges were blown up by the Wehrmacht.

Mühlendamm lock with lock keeper's house and the temporary bridge from 1946,
photo from 1956

In 1946 a makeshift restoration of the steel structural parts that could be salvaged from the Spree began. The repaired Mühlendamm Bridge was opened to traffic on September 1, 1946. In the 1960s the Berlin magistrate planned the construction of a modern bridge structure. In 1964 the remains of the old lock systems had to be removed and the Spree ground cleared. An unadorned three-span prestressed concrete bridge was built between 1966 and 1968 . The now 42.20 meter wide bridge consists of two separate bridge parts, each part has ten meter wide sidewalks and several lanes. The hollow boxes contain the necessary supply lines. When it was completed, the bridge was considered the largest road bridge built in the GDR . It was opened to the public on December 31, 1969. On the occasion of the 750th anniversary of Berlin , the Ephraim-Palais was rebuilt from 1985 to 1987 about twelve meters north of its pre-war location.

Construction problems that occurred in 2018 and the decision to build a new bridge

During the regular examinations of the stability of the Berlin bridges, the experts found irreparable damage to the structure of the bridge in late summer 2018, which, however, did not pose a threat to safety. A repair is not seen as a permanent solution and is hardly cheaper than a new building. In addition, a tram line will also run over the bridge in later years, which must therefore have a higher load-bearing capacity. In November 2018, the Berlin Senate decided to demolish it and then rebuild it. Before the demolition can begin in 2022, the Senate Building Administration and the Berlin Building Chamber will hold a realization and design competition that will start in summer 2019. Around 44 million euros are estimated for the construction. Traffic should be maintained at this point during the construction work, because with around 72,000 vehicles per day, the eight-lane bridge is an important traffic artery in the center of Berlin. An expected completion date cannot yet be fixed.

Institutions in the immediate area

Various umbrella organizations of German employers are represented on the corner of Breite Strasse in the House of German Business . The BDI , the DIHK and the BDA have had their headquarters here since 1999.

Attractions in the area

Frieze (copy of Schadow's version) on the Molkenmarkt 1–3 coin building


  • Eckhard Thiemann, Dieter Deszyk, Horstpeter Metzing: Berlin and its bridges . Jaron, Berlin 2003, pp. 45-50, ISBN 3-89773-073-1 .
  • Herbert Schwenk: Lexicon of Berlin Urban Development . Haude & Spener, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-7759-0472-7 , p. 36.
  • Ehrenfried Kluckert: Berlin - photographs by Waldemar Titzenthaler . Nicolaische Verlagsbuchhandlung, Berlin 1987, ISBN 3-87584-195-6 , p. 42.
  • G. Flügge: Mühlendamm Bridge. Berlin ABC . Series in the BZ in the evening , 1968.

Web links

Commons : Mühlendammbrücke  - collection of images, videos and audio files

References and comments

  1. Traffic volumes for trucks in 2014 . Road traffic census 2014 as of October 16, 2015 (pdf)
  2. Traffic volume map DTV 2014: vehicles in 24 hours
  3. The mill jam reached as far as Köpenick, where it is recognizable between 1220 and 1230 by the constantly wet cellars ( Michael Malliaris : Excavations in the old town of Berlin-Köpenick. In: Miscelleanea Archaeologica, Berlin 2000, p. 124.)
  4. Wolfgang Ribbe (Ed.): Geschichte Berlins , Vol. 1, Munich 1987, pp. 152f.
  5. Hansjürgen Vahldiek: Cölln on the Spree. Origin and change of the Berlin Spree island. New approaches in research . 2nd edition Berlin 2005.
  6. a b c d e f Maritta Tkalec: Mühlendamm - power center of yore . In: Berliner Zeitung , March 25, 2019, p. 12.
  7. ^ Vahldiek, Hansjürgen: Cölln on the Spree. Origin and change of the Berlin Spree island. New approaches in research, Berlin 2005. Ders: Berlin. New findings on founding and urban development, Berlin 2007.
  8. ^ A b Winfried Löschburg: The "Normannenburg" from Mühlendamm. From the oldest square in our city on the narrowest part of the Spree . Walks through the history of Berlin. In: Berliner Zeitung , April 13, 1982
  9. Mühlendamm. In: Street name lexicon of the Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein (near  Kaupert )
  10. New construction of the Mühlendamm Bridge is to begin in 2022 . Berliner Morgenpost , November 25, 2018, archived from the original on March 30, 2019 . ;.
  11. Mühlendammbrücke is being removed. At: berliner-woche.de , November 21, 2018.