The Giebichenstein Bridge, also known as the Kröllwitz Bridge, is a landmark of the city of Halle. Two large animal sculptures – a cow and a horse – adorn the distinctive reinforced concrete bridge that was built between 1926 and 1928 to connect the former rural community of Kröllwitz with Halle’s Giebichenstein district. Along with the municipal building department of Halle, two leading representatives of the German Werkbund played decisive roles in designing the arched bridge: architect Paul Thiersch and sculptor Gerhard Marcks, who created the animal figures.
The careers of both Thiersch and Marcks are closely linked to the school of art located in the Giebichenstein Castle above the bridge. When the Bauhaus left Weimar in 1925, Gerhard Marcks, who had headed their pottery workshop until that point, came to Halle as professor of sculpture. He was appointed by Paul Thiersch, director of the “Burg” since 1915. Under Thiersch’s leadership, the art school was renamed a school of applied arts (“Kunstgewerbeschule”) and underwent many reforms, becoming a leading institution on par with the Werkbund and the Bauhaus.
For the design of the 261-metre-long Giebichenstein Bridge, which has four arch segments of different widths, Thiersch introduced sober, modern aspects as well as classical elements. His artistic approach lightens the weighty aesthetics of the concrete. The bridge’s hallmark is a pair of large animal sculptures set to the left and right of its main segmental arch. Not only do they serve to break up and deflect ice, they also have a high symbolic value: on the eastern side, on the banks of the city, the powerful and vibrant horse embodies urban life, while the resting cow on the shore to the west depicts the rich tradition of agriculture in Kröllwitz.
Both artistically and architecturally, the Giebichenstein Bridge fits well into the picturesque landscape – with the city, the castle, the craggy landscape and the Saale’s riverbed. As a principal road crossing, the main arch of the bridge was blown up in the Second World War and rebuilt in 1949. [KM/DK]
Contact and opening hours
Kröllwitzer Straße 1
06120 Halle (Saale)