A bridge of merchants and more

Erfurt’s Krämerbrücke – a microcosm of craft and creativity

Come along, down into the cold depth of the cellar. But remember to keep your head down and watch where you put your feet. These stone steps have been worn out over hundreds of years. We are headed into the interior of a bridge pier.

There is surprisingly little space at the bottom. Is this supposed to have been a storeroom? A hatch in the old stones reveals the water as it flows around the pier. 

Erfurt meets behind the Kraemerbruecke

©Marco Fischer, Thüringer Tourismus GmbH

The bridge used to be a hive of activity, where all sorts of trade was conducted. That’s how the Krämerbrücke (Merchants’ Bridge) got its name. The traders in those days dealt mostly in small, expensive luxury goods that had often come from far away. Oriental spices, gold, silver, silk – this was where the well-to-do went shopping. Everyone else walked through the ford, to save on the bridge toll.

You can still wade through the shallow water to cool off on a hot summer’s day. Or you could just walk across the bridge. The historical merchants have long gone, but there are still plenty of small shops that conjure up faint echoes of the medieval atmosphere. Each house has its own tale to tell, of artisan crafts and creativity, and together they form a lively and innovative microcosm in the heart of Erfurt.

Behind the Kraemerbruecke

©Jens Hauspurg, Thüringer Tourismus GmbH

The residents and their shops

There’s puppet maker Martin Gobsch, who you can watch at work. His Theatrum Mundi in the shop window springs to life when you put a coin in the slot, and Snow White and her seven dwarfs will perform just for you.

At the Kraemerbruecke

©Marco Fischer, Thüringer Tourismus GmbH

For Rosa Minelli it’s all about the colour blue. She extracts dye from woad and uses it to stain shawls, scarves and much more besides. Once upon a time, the woad trade was very important to Erfurt and brought prosperity to the city.

Alex Kühn is of a more culinary bent, offering handmade chocolate from his Goldhelm manufactory. Some visitors keep returning to Erfurt just to enjoy his luxury chocolate and ice cream creations. His small shop on the bridge takes its name from the golden helmet at the front of the building.

At the Kraemerbruecke

©Barbara Neumann, Thüringer Tourismus GmbH

They didn’t have chocolate in the days of the original merchants, but the aroma of spices would have been everywhere, as it is today at Kardamom, the little spice shop that sells simply everything related to seasoning.

Special gifts

One thing you won’t find here are traditional souvenir shops. But it’s no great loss, as instead you can discover special treats like hand-painted miniatures, Grandma Friedel’s eggnog from the Rhön hills and Thuringian wines. Doesn’t that sound far more interesting?

To round off your visit, take a photo from the top of the tower of the bridge church. Now you’ve seen the Merchants’ Bridge from every perspective, and you’ll also get a great view across the sea of houses in the old quarter all the way to the cathedral.

Tower view over Erfurt

©Lisa Kramer, Thüringer Tourismus GmbH

cover picture 1 and 4: ©Florian Trykowski, TTG; cover picture 2: ©Gregor Lengler, TTG;
cover picture 3: ©Martin Kirchner, TTG

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