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Viadukt ( der oder das , Switzerland, Austria only: das Viadukt) from Latin via "Weg" and ductus "führung ", "leitung", thus about "Überführung", is a neoclassical word formation, based on aqueduct (Roman aqueduct). Viaducts are more or less high and long bridges for railways but also road bridges , which, like an aqueduct, consist of several bridge fields, especially if they lead across a valley or a depression with arches on pillars . As viaducts also be elevated lines of elevated roads and elevated railways called, regardless of whether the lines are led through a series of arches or other structure.


Viaduct in Apolda (end of construction 1846)

Numerous viaducts can already be found in ancient times , especially among the ancient Romans . But it was only with the emergence of the railways around 1830 that the construction and use of these structures began again. In addition to the important aqueducts running at the same height , there are also the arched viaducts in the prenestinian military road between Rome and Gabii with semicircular vaults and pillars made of tuff as well as those of the Appian military road near Aricia . The southern French Pont Serme reached a considerable length of 1500 meters.


Leubnitz Viaduct , brick construction from 1845

There is no general definition of the term viaduct. Every viaduct is also a bridge and, from a structural point of view, is divided into the same categories together with bridges (arched bridges, beam bridges, etc.) The term viaduct has more to do with the effect on the environment and with its function of leading important traffic routes with as few detours and inclines as possible. A viaduct not only crosses, it also connects. That is why it usually depends on the local conditions when a bridge is called a viaduct. As a rule, multi-span bridges, most of which lead over a body of water, are referred to as bridges and not as viaducts. A viaduct therefore mostly crosses land and could theoretically - at least partially - be replaced by a dam.

A viaduct is usually not determined by a main arch, but rather consists of several, mostly even arches or openings. Even if it has a main opening, it only makes up a small part of the total length of the viaduct. The term viaduct is very often used for a bridge structure that consists of several bridges built directly next to one another. The Lorraine Viaduct in Bern , for example, consists of four successive bridges.

According to Duden, the term viaduct is also a synonym for valley bridge and overpass .


The Saugraben Viaduct of the Mariazell Railway

Viaducts are built from stone , brick , concrete , steel or wood . In a narrower sense, viaducts also include the smaller overpasses and underpasses of roads or railways with one to three openings, which are vaulted or covered with iron, solidly rolled girders resting on stone pillars or made of sheet metal and shaped iron . Stone viaducts mostly have semicircular vaults, slender pillars and, with increasing heights, two, three and four levels, which are formed by intermediate vaults. The intermediate pillars are either equally strong or weaker. Group pillars exist when several intermediate pillars alternate with stronger pillars.

The Millau Viaduct was opened by President Jacques Chirac on December 14, 2004 and is one of the most imposing bridges in the world: supported by seven pillars, it crosses the Tarn Valley five kilometers west as a motorway bridge with a length of 2,460 meters and a maximum height of 270 meters by Millau .


Stone viaducts

Construction of the Wiesen Viaduct , around 1906

Iron viaducts

Verrugas Viaduct
Kübelbach Viaduct of the Gäubahn near Dornstetten -Aach

Iron viaducts usually have stone pillars such as the viaduct near Znojmo or iron pillars on stone plinths such as the Crumlin viaduct near Newport in South Wales , the Saaneviaduct near Freiburg in Üechtland , the Sitter viaduct near St. Gallen , the viaducts of the Orleans railway near Baufseau d'Ahun and over the Cere, the first railway bridge from Castellaneta (1868–1929, demolished) over the Gravina Grande di Castellaneta near Castellaneta , the Pfrim valley viaduct near Marnheim in the Palatinate .

On the Erfurt – Ilmenau railway line , the single-track valley crossing at Angelroda has been built with a cast-iron viaduct, as well as the viaduct over the Nidda valley on the Friedberg – Hanau railway line .

Other iron viaducts:

Wooden viaducts

The wooden viaducts were of little importance and were mostly only an interim solution, as they could easily catch fire and burn down due to the flying sparks of the steam locomotives . Nevertheless, they were built because they were inexpensive to build. Historical examples include the burned viaducts over the Genesee River near Portage in the United States with 57.4 m high wooden pillars and the viaducts over the Msta in Russia with 21.34 m high wooden pillars, both on brick plinths.

Viaducts made of reinforced and prestressed concrete

Langwieser Viaduct of the Arosa Railway

Circular viaduct

Brusio circular viaduct

A special form of the viaduct is the circular or circular turning viaduct. Similar to a roundabout tunnel, it overcomes a height difference, whereby the height difference is overcome outdoors (on the viaduct) and not in the mountain. The Brusio circular viaduct on the Bernina Railway is the most famous of its kind .

Slope viaduct

A slope viaduct creates a, possibly inclined, level on a mountain slope on which a traffic route can be built. Any incisions on the slope flank are bridged "incidentally". The longest slope viaduct in Germany is located near Pünderich on the Moselle. The route of the Moselle route runs over it .

Similar structures


Viaducts were popular motifs in Lyonel Feininger's pictures .

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Viadukt , Etymological Dictionary of the German Language
  2. ^ Colin O'Connor: Roman Bridges, Cambridge University Press 1993, ISBN 0-521-39326-4 , p. 99
  3. ^ Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon, Volume 20. Leipzig 1909, p. 132 Viadukt
  4. Entry in the Berlin State Monument List ( Memento from September 29, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  5. ^ Deutsche Reichsbahn (Hrsg.): New section of Hetzdorf on the Sachsenmagistrale Görlitz-Plauen (Vogtl.). Dresden, approx. 1992

Web links

Wiktionary: Viadukt  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Viaducts  - collection of images, videos and audio files