Bridges of Berlin: Sechserbrücke

In my quest to discover the most interesting and lesser known bridge of Berlin, I found myself at the Tegel Lake this dreary winter afternoon, facing a sight for sore eyes in more ways than one. Built in 1908, the Tegeler Hafenbrücke (Tegel Port Bridge) is fondly called by local residents as the Sechserbrücke, which really has no proper translation other than being the sixer bridge. The name Sechser comes from Danish and refers to a coin that was worth six cents at the time, the equivalent to half a shilling, which is what visitors walking along the promenade used to pay the boatman to cross the canal and continue their walk around the Tegel Lake. The term Sechserbrücke also refers to the four original bridges of Berlin that charged a Sechser (five cents or coins of the realm at the time) to cross over. When Tegel District was incorporated into the greater Berlin metropolitan area in 1920, the there was no charge to cross the bridge, but retained the name anyway as reference to the boatman.

The Sechserbrücke ©MTHerzog

By reputation, this is one of the most loved areas in Summer, and for a good reason. It is also why I wanted to visit it in winter, devoid of crowds and having the place pretty much to myself and all the freedom in the world to photograph in peace and quiet. I got more than I bargained for, having aspired only for a bridge and discovering another pocket of Berlin that oozes of understated elegance and old-world charm.

Most people who visit Berlin associate the name Tegel only to the airport, but hardcore Berlin fans and local residents will tell you that Tegel Lake is probably THE place to vegetate on hot summer days. Joggers were out in full force today, weaving their way in and out the surrounding forest around the lake area, and I was the lone photographer on the promenade in the dreadful weather. I may hate winter, but I have to admit that there is a certain light during this season that is emotional as it is dramatic, and sets the perfect stage for quiet and strong features like bridges.

This is by far my favourite bridge in Berlin so far. The Prussian portals on both ends can also be seen on the Charlottenbrücke in Spandau, but the charm of the red steel bridge with the wooden panels will beat the pants off any other bridge in this city. It has always been a pedestrian bridge and will always remain one, with the exception of all the water fowl and other birds that find their way to it.

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