For the next twenty years, only pontoon bridges connected the two sides of the river. An eighth structure was constructed in 1706, but only lasted two years. The current (and ninth) bridge was built in 1788 - obviously of better construction since it has lasted 230 years.
At the Old Town end of the structure, the “Bridge Gate” protected the town’s main north entrance. While the bridges proper were decimated by ice flows over the years, the Gate always seemed to survive. Following the construction of the stone bridge, the Gate served as a guardhouse and jail. A spiral staircase in the eastern tower led to living quarters above the center arch. Three low-ceilinged rooms occupied the western tower and served as the jail. Currently, the Gate structure is not open to the public.
Located next to the Bridge Gate is a rather strange, or unique, “Bridge Monkey” bronze statue. There actually has been one form or another of this monkey statue here dating back to the fifteenth century. Legend states that this has been a symbol of mockery towards the opposite shore. By presenting its backside towards the Electorate of Mainz, the monkey statue was making it clear that the region’s power laid on the Heidelberg (Palatinate) side. One of the monkey’s hands holds a mirror, supposedly encouraging passersby to engage in self-reflection. Part of the Bridge Monkey’s myth claims that rubbing the mirror would bring good luck (an interesting superstition).
“Why are you staring at me?
Haven’t you seen the old monkey in Heidelberg?
Look around and you probably will see -
more monkeys like me!”