Deep in the east of Germany on the border with Poland lies a bridge that has become famous in recent years thanks to Instagram: the Rakotzbrücke. The pictures show a semicircular bridge over a lake, surrounded by a densely tree-covered bank, which together with its reflection in the water surface forms a perfect round circle. The small but imposing bridge from the 19th century looks gloomy and mystical – a real devil’s bridge. However, the Rakotzbrücke is not as remote as the pictures suggest – it is located in a landscape park, the Rhododendron Park Kromlau, a district of the municipality of Gablenz in the district of Görlitz.
For me it is unfortunately not necessarily on the doorstep and that’s why it took me some time to finally see the Rakotzbrücke live, but in combination with a short trip to Saxon Switzerland it finally worked.
In this article I will tell you where you can find the Rakotzbrücke, what to expect there and what you have to consider when visiting.
The Rakotz Bridge
The Rakotzbrücke was built from 1863 to 1882, among other things from basalt stones. It spans the 35m wide Rakotzsee in a semicircle, which is reflected in the lake and thus optically becomes a circle. Due to this special construction, the bridge has become a popular motif, especially with photographers, and has become a little celebrity thanks to social media in recent years. A short tour around the surrounding lake is also worthwhile, because there are some other constructions made of basalt stones, such as organ-shaped basalt columns, which give the mystical overall picture of the Rakotzsee the finishing touch.
Location & directions to the Rakotzbrücke
The Rakotzbrücke is located in the Kromlauer Rhododendron Park in the municipality of Gablenz. Just enter your destination in your GPS and you will arrive there safely. There is a paid visitor car park at reasonable prices where you can park comfortably. From there, a short path leads directly to the park and to the Rakotzsee. The park is open 24/7 and entry is free.
Tips for your visit
The Rakotzbrücke is a popular excursion destination, but not overcrowded on normal days. Still, a little planning is necessary, especially if you want to take nice photos on site.
The best time to visit
The Rakotzbrücke is most beautiful in autumn, because then the trees and bushes that surround the Rakotzsee bear colorful foliage and offer a backdrop like from an old Grimm fairy tale. In addition, the lake is filled with more water than, for example, in midsummer, which makes the mirror image of the bridge particularly effective, especially when there is no wind.
Photography tips for the Rakotzbrücke
When you come to the Rakotzbrücke to take photos, not only the season of the year plays a role, but also the time of day. The light is particularly beautiful in the mornings and evenings, and there are fewer people around the lake at this time. Since the lake can be circled on a small path, it can happen that you always have people in your pictures. If you don’t want that, you should choose the off-peak times for your visit.
If you come in the morning in autumn, you might also be lucky enough to find the Rakotz Bridge and the lake embedded in thick clouds of fog or to experience a fantastic sunrise. In addition, there is usually less wind in the morning than during the day, so the chance of a perfect reflection is greater here too.
Please consider this in your planning and adhere to the ban.
Otherwise, wonderful shots are also possible away from this photo motif. You don’t need any special camera equipment, with a normal wide-angle lens you are well equipped.
My equipment for visiting the Rakotz Bridge
- My camera: Sony Alpha 6500 *
- An all-round lens from Sigma 17-70mm * (connected via adapter * )
- A light, stable travel tripod * (for long exposures and if you want to take photos of yourself)
With this mini-equipment I shoot 90% of my pictures. You can get a complete overview of my equipment with all lenses, drones, underwater cameras, etc. here >>> my photo equipment *
Rehabilitation of the Rakotz Bridge
The renovation of the Kromlau Landscape Park including the so-called Rakotzensemble (basalt organs, Rakotzbrücke and grotto next to the bridge) has been in full swing since mid-2018. This also applies to the Rakotzbrücke. The Rakotzsee was drained for the purpose of restoration work, the bridge is currently in scaffolding and unfortunately does not provide a good photo opportunity. The renovation will probably be fully completed by the end of 2020 / beginning of 2021, until then you will have to be patient. You can see the current status of the work here .
My pictures were taken in autumn 2017, so you can see the Rakotz Bridge in its original state before the restoration.
Devil’s Bridges – what is it all about?
Devil’s bridges can be found all over Germany. These are bridges that have such a special construction that they actually could not have been built by human hands. According to legend, the devil helped build these bridges, in return he received the soul of whoever was the first to cross the newly built bridge. In most cases this should have turned out well for the population, because they simply sent an animal such as a goat or a sheep across the bridge. In the case of the Rakotzbrücke it should have been different, because here the bridge builder accidentally went over it first after completion. In Germany and the neighboring European countries there are a total of over 30 bridges known as the Devil’s Bridges.
More tips for excursions in Upper Lusatia
As described at the beginning, I combined my visit to the Rakotzbrücke in Kromlau with a long weekend in Saxon Switzerland. Saxon Switzerland is admittedly not really around the corner, but if you plan an extra day for the journey and the visit to the Rakotzbrücke, then the two can be easily combined. Other beautiful excursion destinations near the Rakotzbrücke are:
- The Fürst-Pückler-Park in Bad Muskau with the Muskau Castle
- Muzakowski Park (already in Poland)
- The Muskau Forest Railway: You can travel on various sections of the route in Upper Lusatia in a steam locomotive that is more than 100 years old, e.g. from / to Kromlau. You can find more information here
Are you still looking for a hotel near the Rakotzbrücke? Here you will find an overview of the accommodations in the region *.
Nothing included or too expensive? Then an Airbnb might be an alternative. If you register via my link, you will get a discount of up to € 25 for the first booking: Get your Airbnb discount now *