The 39 Most Amazing Bridges In The World

Jun 29, 2014

Category: Living

Picture the scene. Africa, a young Neanderthal, lithe, hairy, fantastically fit, emerges from a clearing, makes his way down to a river, pauses, then runs nimbly across the dead tree that reaches from one side of the river to the other. And there it is, the first bridge crossing, and no one even made a note of it. Ever since that unrecorded moment, we’ve pushed at the limits of engineering and design, and improved on the dead tree over the river pretty much every time. To the point where we can put a bridge almost anywhere. We’ve got bridges that span rivers, that traverse mountain ranges, bridges over oceans, that connect countries, soar above jungles, and in the case of the Bosphorous bridge, that stick one continent to another. Sometimes, they seem almost timeless, transcendent. One of them is older than Christ. Let’s face it, we couldn’t live without bridges. So we’ve gathered together the most amazing bridges in the world that we could find. Just for you.

Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

The iconic bridge synonymous with San Francisco is considered by some to be the most beautiful bridge in the world. The American Society of Civil Engineers has named it one of the Wonders of the Modern World (though honestly, they may be a bit biased). Built in 1937, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world until 1964, and no, we’re not done with the superlatives yet. It is the most photographed bridge. At the time it was built, San Francisco’s growth was below average. A bridge connection to the other bay communities would help to solve that. Many experts said it couldn’t be done, claiming that the Bay’s extreme winds and smothering fogs would prevent construction and operation. [Details]

Akashi Strait Bridge

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, Japan

Before the bridge was built – it’s currently the longest suspension bridge in the world – you’d have had to board a ferry to get from Kobe to Iwaya. This worked out until 1955, when two ferries sank and 168 people were killed. That’s when the bridge was planned. Construction took twelve years, and it was completed in 1998. In 1995 when only the two towers were in place, the Great Hanshin earthquake moved them further apart, so the span had to be increased by three feet. [Details]

Pont du Gard France

Pont du Gard, France

Because the citizens of Nimes were getting a bit parched and the whiff of body odor unbearable, even for 50 AD, the Romans tapped into an underground spring at Uzes some 31 miles away. The problem was you couldn’t very well walk 31 miles every time you wanted a drink. So they built an underwater aqueduct. This worked out until they reached the Gardon River, which is why the Pont du Gard aqueduct bridge was built. It’s remarkably precise engineering, with a difference in height of one inch from one end to the other. Some two thousand years later it’s still standing. The spring is also still there. [Details]

Roebling Suspension Bridge Ohio

Roebling Suspension Bridge, Ohio

The Roebling Suspension links Ohio and Kentucky over the Ohio River, and was built by John Roebling, the architect of the Brooklyn Bridge. This was the first draft, his practice round, a free throw, the etch-a-sketch construction for the iconic build that lay ahead. [Details]

Rolling Bridge London 1

Rolling Bridge, London

Designed as an experiment more than anything, the bridge is divided into eight linked sections and uses hydraulics built into the handrail to curl up and over until its ends meet, allowing boats to pass through below. To see it in action, visit London’s Grand Union Canal on a Friday at noon, when it rolls up like a Persian rug. [Details]

Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge Brazil

Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge, Brazil

An asymmetrical bridge named after former Brazilian president Juscelino Kubitschek. The bridge is designed with three steel support arches leaping from side to side of the bridge, said to highlight Brasilia’s stunning sunsets. Couldn’t you just enjoy the sunsets without a bridge? [Details]

Brooklyn Bridge New York

Brooklyn Bridge, New York

When it opened in 1883 the Brooklyn Bridge became the longest suspension bridge in the world, some 50 percent longer than any previously built. Six days after opening, a rumor that it was going to collapse caused panic and a stampede that resulted in the death of at least twelve people. They weren’t the first. Around thirty people died during the bridge’s thirteen-year construction, including its original architect, John Roebling. [Details]

Millau Viaduct France

Millau Viaduct, France

Built as a solution to holiday traffic between Paris and Spain, the Millau Viaduct spans the River Tarn valley and is ranked as one of the greatest feats of engineering, ever. Just don’t mention this to the American Society of Civil Engineers. They’re liable to lose their civility. It received an Outstanding Structure Award for its work, which is pretty much the Oscars of bridge building. It keeps the trophy on the mantelpiece overlooking the river. [Details]

The U Bein Bridge Burma

The U Bein Bridge, Burma

At almost 4,000 feet long, this is the longest teak bridge in the world and spans Taugthaman Lake in Amarapura. Not wanting to throw out the teak columns during the move from the old palace to Mandalay, the city’s mayor, U Bein, made a bridge out of them. Those teak columns must have been huge. The bridge is best seen at sunset, with the robed monks walking along it silhouetted in the dimming light. [Details]

Gateshead Millenium Bridge England

Gateshead Millenium Bridge, England

This award-winning tilt-bridge that connects the cities of Gateshead and Newcastle over the River Tyne uses a system of hydraulic rams that pivot the walkway so that boats can pass through. The process takes less than five minutes, and looks like a giant eyelid slowly opening and closing. Just as impressive is that it was installed already built, with the help of the Asian Hercules II, Europe’s largest floating crane. [Details]

The Caravan Bridge Turkey

The Caravan Bridge, Turkey

It may not look like much, but The Caravan Bridge in Turkey (not to be confused with the Bridge Caravan Park in Wales) has seen more of life than any other bridge anywhere. It’s the oldest known bridge in the world, estimated to have been built some 850 years BC. It’s quite possible that Homer may have taken a break from the Iliad and stopped for a sandwich here. [Details]

Da Vinci Bridg Norway

Da Vinci Bridge, Norway

Leonardo included the plans for this bridge in 1502 as part of a job application to the Sultan Bajazet II of Constantinople. He didn’t get the job and the plans disappeared for 500 years until 1952, when they showed up among Istanbul’s national archives. Another forty four years passed before Norwegian artist Vebjorn Sand came across them, at which time he proposed to the admin department of Norway’s Public Roads that the Da Vinci Bridge be built. And here it is. [Details]

Pont Gustave Flaubert France

Pont Gustave Flaubert, France

A draw bridge that doesn’t draw. It goes straight up, pulled by a butterfly pulley system. More commonly known as a Vertical Lift Bridge, it takes about 12 minutes to go all the way, something most guys only dream about. [Details]

Millenium Bridge London

Millenium Bridge, London

Across from the Tate Modern, the bridge for the new millenium became known as The Wobbly Bridge shortly after it opened due to a quease-inducing wobble. It was closed for two years to undergo wobble removal. It is perhaps best known now for collapsing at the hands of Death Eaters in the movie version of Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince. [Details]

Hangzhou Bay Bridge China

Hangzhou Bay Bridge, China

If you’re going to build a bridge, you may as well make it a challenge and put it in a place prone to earthquakes and typhoons, one that has some of the strongest tidal forces on the planet. And probably you’d also want to make it the longest ocean-crossing bridge in the world. That’s the Hangzhou Bay Bridge. So why did they do it? It cuts 75 miles off a trip between Jiaxing and Nibo, and three hours off travel time between Nibo and Shanghai. There’s a service center in the middle called Land Between The Sea and Sky where you can kick back and watch the tides, among other things. Like use the bathroom. [Details]

Bridge of Sighs Venice Italy

Bridge of Sighs, Venice, Italy

The Bridge of Sighs passes over the Rio di Palazzo in Venice and connects the holding facility known as the New Prison with the Doge’s Palace. The poet Lord Byron came up with the name, taking it from the legend that prisoners would sigh as they took in their last view of Venice before being locked up. Today, the palace is an art museum. Tomorrow, who knows? [Details]

Cornish Windsor Covered Bridge, New Hampshire

Cornish Windsor Covered Bridge, New Hampshire

The covered bridge that crosses the Connecticut River between Cornish, New Hampshire and Windsor, Vermont looks like a garden shed that’s been tortured on a rack in a Spanish dungeon. It still has the longest single covered span that carries motorized traffic, but the Smolen-Gulf Bridge in Ohio is longer overall. [Details]

Smolen-Gulf Bridge Ohio

Smolen-Gulf Bridge, Ohio

See? Here it is. The difference is barely noticeable, but the Smolen-Gulf, at 613 feet long is, in fact, more than a hundred feet longer than the Cornish Windsor, and as such, is the longest covered bridge in the US. [Details]

Langkawi Sky Bridge Malaysia

Langkawi Sky Bridge, Malaysia

So what’s the solution when you’re craving a slice of Malaysian jungle but don’t want to hack your way through it with a machete and a team of sherpas? Helicoptered into place at the top of Machinchang mountain, the footbridge provides overhead views of luscious rainforest from Langkawi’s second highest peak. You reach it by cable car, with views of the Telega Tujuh Waterfalls along the way. The curved design works like an infinity pool, with the edge of the bridge elusive, continuously dipping into the forest and changing perspective. The only drawback we can see is that as of 2014 the bridge has been closed indefinitely. [Details]

Sidu River Bridge China

Sidu River Bridge, China

High in the mountains of the Sichuan Basin and spanning the Sidu River Valley, this is the highest bridge in the world. It hangs about 1,640 feet from the bottom of the gorge, so if you ever happen to find yourself stuck in the middle of it and have a fear of heights, it’s probably best if you don’t look down. [Details]

The Trift Bridge Switzerland

The Trift Bridge, Switzerland

The Trift Bridge is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the Alps. You’d really only have reason to be on it if you came to see the Trift Glacier. The best views are from the bridge across Lake Triftsee. The bridge receives 20,000 visitors per year to see the Glacier. [Details]

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge Northern Ireland

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Northern Ireland

This famous Irish rope bridge connects the mainland to a small fishing island and some people, who shall remain nameless, having made it across one way have had to be removed from the island by boat, too unnerved by the whole thing to make the return journey. It used to have just one handrail and a lot of gaps, but it’s been refurbished and these days is boringly sturdy. The rewards for crossing, if you can stand the height, are fantastic views and an island teeming with wildlife. [Details]

Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge China

Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge, China

So far as we know, no one ever fell off the Carrick-a-Rede Bridge. But apparently they’re dropping off the Nanjing Yangtze Bridge with some regularity. There are more suicides committed here than any other bridge in the world. It’s a double-decker. Cars up, trains down. Approximately 80,000 vehicles and 200 trains cross it every day. [Details]

George Washington Bridge New York

George Washington Bridge, New York

That sounds like a lot, and it is, but compared to New York’s GW Bridge, 140,000 at the last count and the busiest bridge in the world, it’s like a three year old pushing around a few Tonka toys on the living room rug. [Details]

Howrah Bridge India

Howrah Bridge, India

But if you include non-motorized traffic as well, people and cows, goats etc, then it’s this bridge in India. A million people walk over it every day, which would lead you to believe there’s something really good on the other side. It’s also a film directed by Shakti Samanta, about two brothers and a family heirloom that resembles a dragon. [Details]

Chapel Bridge Switzerland

Chapel Bridge, Switzerland

The Chapel Bridge crosses the Reuss River in Lucerne and is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe. It was built in 1333 to help protect Lucerne from outside attacks. Inside, paintings from the 17th century depict prominent events in Luzerne’s history, like the… well you know, there was that time when… yeah, that’s it. [Details]

Octavio Frias de Oliveira Bridge Brazil

Octavio Frias de Oliveira Bridge, Brazil

Finished in 2008 over Sao Paulo’s Pinheiros River, the unusual feature of this bridge is that its two levels of traffic cross one another as they pass through the central pylon. Mind you, at 452 feet high, the pylon is pretty impressive too. It’s what’s holding this thing up. At night, LED lighting lights the place up like a 4th of July fireworks display. The floodlights have actually been stolen before, at a replacement cost of around half a million dollars. [Details]

Oresund Bridge Sweden

Oresund Bridge, Sweden

Forget building bridges just to cross a river, now we’re getting into other countries with them. The Oresund Bridge connects Denmark and Sweden. What’s unusual is that it starts out in Sweden as a bridge, and ends up a tunnel in Denmark. A small island had to be built around the tunnel’s entrance to stop water getting in. [Details]

Rialto Bridge Venice

Rialto Bridge, Venice

If you live in Venice, you’ll either be good at building bridges, or swimming. The Rialto is the oldest of the bridges that span the Grand Canal. When Antonio da Ponte submitted his design, the engineering was considered so outrageous his peers practically laughed him out of his gondola, predicting that the bridge would soon fall down. That was 1591. It’s still there. [Details]

The Royal Gorge Bridge Colorado

The Royal Gorge Bridge, Colorado

Built in 1929 and hanging a thousand feet above the Arkansas River in Colorado, The Royal Gorge Bridge was the world’s highest bridge until 2001, when China’s Liuguanghe Bridge nosed it out of first place. It was built purely as a tourist attraction and sits inside a 21-ride theme park. It’s still the highest bridge in the US, and claims the title of highest suspension bridge in the world. [Details]

Capilano Suspension Bridge in Canada

Capilano Suspension Bridge, Canada

First built in 1889 and crossing over the Capilano River, this bridge in north Vancouver attracts close to a million visitors a year. Originally made of hemp rope and cedar plants, it was replaced with a wire cable bridge in 1903, and then completely rebuilt in 1956. There have been several incidents of tourists falling off, on or near the bridge. [Details]

Tower Bridge London

Tower Bridge, London

Due to increased commerce around the middle of the 19th century, London needed a new bridge. A competition was held, and while it took seven years to make a decision, eventually Horace Jones, who also happened to be one of the judges, was named the winner. Pressurized water hydraulics were originally used to raise the bridge, which were later changed to an electro-hydraulics system. Not everyone liked the design. The artist and designer, Frank Bangwyn, said of it: “A more absurd structure than the Tower Bridge was never thrown across a strategic river.” [Details]

Half-Bridge of Hope Russia

Half-Bridge of Hope, Russia

Clearly he never saw the Half-Bridge of Hope, which is somewhere in Russia and looks like a weekend project your dad started but lost interest in sometime Sunday afternoon. Though to be fair to Mr. Bangwyn, it doesn’t go over a river. It doesn’t actually appear to go anywhere. [Details]

Kintai Bridge Japan

Kintai Bridge, Japan

Built in 1673 and located at the foot of Mount Yokoyama, the bridge is made up of five wooden arches. Made a national treasure in 1922, it is a popular tourist destination and part of the Kikkou park, which has a castle at the top of the same mountain. [Details]

Chenyang Bridge China

Chenyang Bridge, China

Built in 1916, this covered pedestrian bridge spanning the Sanjiang River features three floors and a series of piers, pavilions, and verandas. The bridge connects two crowded villages in an area known as the Dong Minority Region, and it is crossed by many people every day. [Details]

Si-o-se-Pol Bridge Iran

Si-o-se-Pol Bridge, Iran

Built between 1599 and 1602 during the Savafid dynasty, Si-o-se Pol translates from Farsi to the Bridge of 33 Arches. It is one of the seven bridges of Isfahan, and best seen at night when the river is full and all the arches are lit up from end to end, throwing reflections and shadow on the Zayandeh River below. [Details]

Hussaini Hanging Bridge Pakistan

Hussaini Hanging Bridge, Pakistan

It has been called the most dangerous bridge in the world. One look tells you why. For some Pakistanis, it is the only way to reach the bigger cities of Northern Pakistan. There’s a rumor that it has been washed away in a storm.

Bosphorus Bridge Turkey

Bosphorus Bridge, Turkey

Spanning the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, the Bosphorus Bridge connects the continents of Europe and Asia. It’s been equipped with a computerized LED lighting system so that at night, fully lit, it’s pretty impressive. The only other bridge to connect two continents is the Fatih Sultan Mehmet, about fifty yards up the river. Oh and there’s the Suez Bridge, too, and Istanbul has a third one on the way. Be done in December. Ok, so they’re everywhere. [Details]

Henderson Waves Bridge Singapore

Henderson Waves Bridge, Singapore

Built to connect in three parks and gardens located in the mountains of Southern Singapore, this ultra-modern foot and cycle bridge is a cross between a wave, a snake, and a giant slinky. It was designed around mathematical principles, which is another way of saying we don’t understand it. But depending where you are on the bridge, your perspective of the surrounding city and countryside is constantly changing. [Details]

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