Untertorbrucke (Lower Gate Bridge)

Bridge in Bern

Bern Untertorbrücke
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Daniel Schwen

The Lower Gate Bridge (Untertorbrücke) is a significant part of Bern, Switzerland’s architectural and historical heritage. This historic stone arch bridge, spanning the Aare River, was initially constructed in 1256, making it the oldest bridge in Bern. For centuries, it served as the sole connection between the Old City and the eastern bank of the river, reflecting its crucial role in the city’s early development.

The bridge’s origins date back to the need for a river crossing after Bern’s founding in 1191. Conflict with Count Hartmann of Kyburg arose, leading to a mediated peace that allowed the bridge’s completion. Initially built from oak wood and possibly partially covered, it featured fortifications, including a fortified tower and a central guard house. The bridge endured significant historical events, such as surviving an attack during King Rudolph of Habsburg’s second siege of Bern in 1288.

In 1460, after being severely damaged by a flood, the bridge was reconstructed in stone. A master builder from Zurich led the work, resulting in significant improvements, including new fortifications and a chapel consecrated by 1467. However, financial strains and conflicts caused delays, and construction was not completed until the late 15th century.

Over the following centuries, the bridge’s fortifications were enhanced with crenelated stone walls and covered battlements. By the 18th century, these medieval fortifications had lost their military relevance and had become traffic hindrances, leading to major renovations in 1757. The original military features were removed, and new decorative elements, such as a baroque triumphal arch, were added.

Further modifications in the 19th century altered its appearance; iron railings replaced sandstone parapets, and significant structures like the eastern gate and drawbridge were dismantled to alleviate local congestion.

Today, the Lower Gate Bridge stands as a remnant of its medieval core, stripped of its extensive fortifications and baroque embellishments. It serves as a quiet testament to Bern’s long history, encapsulating centuries of architectural and urban evolution. No longer an active bridge, it remains a symbolic link to the city’s past, offering a glimpse into Bern’s historical narrative.

The Untertorbrucke (Lower Gate Bridge) appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Bern!

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Visiting Untertorbrucke (Lower Gate Bridge)


24 Hours



Address: Untertorbrücke, Bern, Switzerland
Duration: 20 minutes

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