Grunwaldzki Bridge is one of the most recognizable structures in Wroclaw. Yet the science behind its construction is arguably not as well known as it should be.
Roaming about in the city of Wroclaw, you will surely have passed over the mighty Grunwaldzki Bridge at some point. Thanks to its gothic style, it’s easily one of the most recognizable bridges in the city.
Still going strong after 107 years, there can be no doubt the bridge has stood the test of time, despite the city having endured some tumultuous times. How on earth has it managed this feat though?
As we can all easily recognise, Grunwaldzki bridge is of course a suspension bridge, which was the most advanced bridge building technique at the time it was built.
To understand the different components of the bridge let’s break them down into two parts: blue and the grey. Chief among the bridge’s ice-blue parts are the four main cables that run from the top of both of the grey towers on either side of the river Odra. The suspender cables that connect the deck to the main cables, as well as the four anchors (two on each side), are also blue.
As you can see in the image above, the ‘T’ like structures (suspender cables) connect (and pull) the deck to the main cables above. This creates a slight bulge (as seen in the diagram) at the center of the deck, which makes it a flexible “suspended” entity.
If you look closely at the bridge’s giant grey towers you will see the massive anchors that gracefully hold the cables to the ground. The anchors on both sides are hooked to large angled rock reinforcements, which slightly protrude from the ground. These give balance to the entire structure of the bridge.
Another attribute worth noting are the strips of metal placed diagonally (and at alternate angles) between the bridge’s two main cables, which further strengthen the anchorage. When the main cables go through the towers there is no more need for the “suspension” that we referred to earlier. However, what is needed is more strength, and this is provided by the diagonal pieces of metal.
If you notice the main cables drooping between the towers you won’t see any diagonal metal strips though – this particular part requires flexibility to aid the longevity of the bridge. Given that Grunwaldzki Bridge has stood for 107 years, they’ve certainly done their job.
So the next time you pass over the bridge, its beauty won’t be the only thing that you’ll be admiring; you now also know a bit about the science behind one of Wrocław’s most remarkable structures.