Thursday, 12. 5. 2011

Hradecki bridge

Ljubljana has been enriched by the renovated Hradecki Bridge between the Grudnovo and Krakov embankments.

Hradecki Bridge was the name given to a well-known cast iron bridge first sited at the location of Shoemakers’ Bridge on 18 October 1867. It was named after the prominent Mayor of Ljubljana between 1820 and 1846 Johann Nepomuk Hradecki (1775-1846, Ljubljana).

On the former site of the Ljubljana mortuary, to which it was moved in 1931 by architect Jože Plečnik, it took on the name of the Bridge of Death. Throughout history both of the bridge’s names has been retained.

In February last year the cast iron bridge was removed from its previous location and sent for renovation. In March 2011 it was erected on its new site between the Grudnovo and Krakov embankments, where it once again bears the old name Hradecki Bridge.

The contractor for the work was Gradis skupina G, d.d.; the total cost of all building work for Hradecki Bridge was €980,000 including VAT. The investment value of the work is €1,150,000 including VAT.

A brief history of the bridge

In England at the end of the 18th century, a new furnace for smelting iron using coke was introduced. In this way cast iron became a readily available and cheap material that enabled revolutionary technical innovations in production. In 1781 the first cast iron bridge in the world was constructed across the River Severn, which today symbolises the start of the industrial revolution. It was cast in the nearby foundry at Coalbrookdale, where many metallurgical innovations were carried out. Now Ironbridge is a key English tourist attraction under UNESCO protection.

The news from England quickly spread to Europe, especially to the then Prussia, where cast iron generated immense enthusiasm. In that spirit the Ljubljana city council of the time opened a tender for the construction of a cast iron bridge that would replace the wooden Shoemakers’ Bridge. Five years later they accepted the plans of master engineer Johann Hermann from Vienna, which were in line with the high standards demanded by the city and its Mayor Hradecki. The span of the bridge was the same as Ironbridge in England, and was cast in its entirety at Dvor near Žužemberk, and thus bore bows and decorative railings. Upon its opening the bridge was given general praise and excellent reviews in expert circles.

Hradecki Bridge is one of the greatest achievements in Slovenian technical history.