The 574 metre long Göltzsch valley bridge took five years to build, and when it was completed in 1851 the 78 metre high viaduct was the highest railway bridge in the world. It was not long before this record was surpassed, but another record remains still unbeaten to this day: it needed 26 million bricks to build it, and it is thus the largest brick bridge in the world.
The bridge – 20 km southwest of Zwickau – was built to carry the railway line between Leipzig and Nuremberg. In order to achieve the most convenient connection the Saxon-Bavarian Railway Company decided to build two bridges; one over the Göltzsch valley and another over the nearby Elster valley just a few kilometres further on. Since there were large supplies of clay near the construction sites and brickmaking was cheap, the company was able to build both bridges from brick at a reasonable cost. Quarry stones and rectangular granite blocks were used for the foundations, pillar supports and subarches. These are generally acknowledged to be the first bridges for which static values were worked out. They are closely linked with the name of Professor Johann Andreas Schubert (1808-1870), the rector of the Saxon Education Institute in Dresden. He was also the constructor of the first German steam locomotive, the "Saxonia", and the first steamboat on the Elb.
The so-called "Saxon-Frankish Axis" was renovated between 1997 and 2000 in order to enable modern tilting trains to travel the winding stretch at speeds of up to 160 km an hour.