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The Bridge in Jerusalem showing the pointed height and chords handing down.

Tales From Israel – The Bridge

If you haven’t been to Jerusalem in a few years, you may not know about the new structure dominating the ancient city.

It opened in 2011 after six years of construction in which everyone complained about the traffic congestion. There were barriers everywhere, and the roads were like parking lots. The structure is called The Bridge, also known as The Kinor (harp), The Chord, The Bridge of Strings and The Light Rail Bridge. Whatever name you choose to use, this bridge absolutely floods the Jerusalem skyline, which was the intent.

The Bridge in Jerusalem, also known as The Kinor (harp), The Chord, The Bridge of Strings and The Light Rail Bridge.Faye Menczer Ascher | Detroit Jewish News

Designed by Spanish architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava, The Bridge was created for the Jerusalem Light Rail and pedestrians crossing from Kiryat Moshe to the Central Bus Station. After Calatrava opened his 2005 pedestrian bridge in Petah Tikvah, former Jerusalem mayor Ehud Olmert, according to Calatrava, challenged the architect to “do the most beautiful contemporary bridge” for Jerusalem to help solve traffic problems. Calatrava met the challenge with flying colors.

While the Jerusalem Bridge is Calatrava’s 40th bridge (including another in Haifa), it is the first he has designed to carry both train and pedestrian traffic. The architect says his design represents King David’s harp. Others have different interpretations.

Israeli’s, and especially Jerusalemites, have mixed reviews about The Harp.

Some resent its domination of this religious city full of strong Jewish connections for thousands of years. These people are horrified at how The Kinor destroys the cohesiveness of the “look” of the ancient city.

“The bridge is simply out of its element and does not fit visually in the city,” was one assessment.

The Bridge is huge, dominating the city as the tallest structure in sight. Add in the over $70 million plus a $500,000 opening ceremony price tag, the huge cost of the project is particularly objectionable.

“There were cheaper ways to solve traffic issues,” is a common complaint.

Many people are also disappointed in the space allowed for the structure, which is not really big enough to artistically appreciate the design. It is said to be “squeezed into the crowded entrance to Jerusalem.”

Others, on the other hand, find the structure to be quite appealing. Some call it magnificent and love its modernity.  They are full of praise for the design, the size nd the forward thinking of the structure. These people are pleased that Jerusalem is entering the twenty first century of architecture and design.

Even the supporters agree the design has room for improvement, though. Everyone expresses consternation that this long pedestrian crossing traversing the light rail and busy expressways has no covering against the hot Israel sun.

Whatever your viewpoint, it is an amazing structure to see. If you have the opportunity, I highly suggest making a stop in Jerusalem to have a look for yourself.

Faye Menczer Ascher

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