There are numerous Devil’s Bridges around the world. In France, alone there are forty-nine bridges that bear the name The Devil’s Bridge. Rakotzbrucke, Germany pictured above is without doubt the most picturesque of all Devil’s Bridges in the world. Yet there was another reason I chose it visit it whilst doing research for my book The Devil’s Prayer.
Devil’s bridges were all significant technological achievements for their times. Most of these bridges share the same legend: a pact made with the Devil to build a bridge overnight in exchange for the first soul to cross the bridge. After delivering on his side of the deal, the Devil would then be outwitted by the builders, by for example, getting some animal to cross the bridge first, denying the Devil a human soul. Rakotzbrucke does not share this common legend. This is one of two bridges worldwide in which according to legend, the builder honoured the deal by walking the bridge himself.
To get to Rakotzbrucke is an adventure in itself. The train from Berlin main train station takes around an hour and a half to reach Cottbus. From Cottbus, you need to get the train to Weibwasser, a small glass making town on the German Polish border.
Rakotzbrucke is located within the 200 acre Kromlauer Park in Kromlau. To get to Kromlau you have to board the Waldeisen Bahn, an old steam railway train. The Waldeisen Bahn station is located some two kilometres from Weibwasser station. There were no taxis at the station and I decided to walk through the quaint border town of Cottbus and soon found the steam railway line.
The train line to Kromlau passes through UNESCO protected Muskau wetlands.
The stop for the Devil’s Bridge is Kromlau and a short walk leads you to the Rhododendron Park within which this bridge is located. Rakotzbrucke is also known for the perfect circle the reflection forms and if you look sideways, some people believe you can see the face of the Devil.
Man made or natural, these strange rock formations are scattered both within the waters and throughout the 200 acres Kromlau Park complex.
The steam train also goes to Bad Muskau which is right on the border with Poland. Muskau Castle is straight out of a fairy tale and well worth a visit.
The Castle rose gardens were in bloom too.
In Search of ‘The Devil’s Prayer’
In 2015, I visited Rakotzbrucke whilst conducting research for my book, The Devil’s Prayer.
The concept of doing deals with the Devil features in this book. The Devil’s Prayer is available on Amazon, ibooks, Google Play and Kobo.
I chose to visit from Berlin and there is a direct train from Berlin to Cottbus. Buy your tickets on Deutsche Bahn more than 24 hours in advance to Cottbus and it is usually less than half the price, but these tickets are not flexible. I chose to travel on the ICE as these trains are much quicker and have internet and other comforts not afforded by the Regional Bahn service. Carry your passport, you will be right on the border with Poland and you will almost certainly cross over to Poland.
There are a few great hotels next to Berlin Main train station. The Steigenberger is my favourite and the less expensive neighbouring Intercity Hotel is also very good.
During my visit the train ran every two hours or so and I took a taxi back from Bad Muskau to Weibwasser station and it was less than 20 euro. The Waldeisen Bahn is not open throughout the year and it posts train timetables and information at its website. http://www.waldeisenbahn.de/en/
This is one hidden gem off the beaten track and a great day trip out of Berlin. I would recommend staying overnight in Bad Muskau which is famous for its baths as well.