Peoples shared the water and connected through Bridges…
Ever since the dawn of time man has been trying to cross things – oceans, mountains, deserts. It’s in our blood. Of course those are far bigger than anything we’ll see today. Crossing a river with a bridge can’t be all that exciting…or can it? With record breaking achievements, award winning designs, outstanding architecture, and rich history we are about to cross 25 of the world’s most unique bridges.
1) Ponte Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio is a medieval bridge, found in the city of Florence crossing over the Arno river and is so ancient that it dates back to the Roman times. Destroyed by a flood in 1333, it was rebuilt in 1345 by Taddeo Gaddi. In 1565 Giorgio Vasar was commissioned to upgrade the bridge, adding an upper corridor above it. This bridge is famous for the fact that houses are positioned along its span, some of them prodding out to the side. Initially, however, they were workshops where shopkeepers such as butchers and tanners practiced their trades. In 1593 they were replaced with goldsmiths, because the shops produced too much garbage and caused a foul stench. The Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge in Florence that survived WWII unscathed and it was the only bridge spared by the Germans during the siege in Italy.
2) Tower Bridge, England
From one historical landmark to another, this time we head to Europe, England to be exact. In the 19th century, London Bridge was the only way of crossing the Thames river. As London grew, more bridges were added on the west side of London Bridge. The east side however become a busy port and it quickly became apparent that a new bridge was needed. Planning started in 1884 when a design was chosen from over 50 submissions. It took 8 years, 432 workers, and over 11,000 tons of steel to build what we know now as Tower Bridge. The Prince of Wales opened the bridge in 1894 and It helped relieve the stress of the east side. The bridge would become one of the worlds most recognized bridges due to it’s iconic design. It has 2 towers at the ends of each bank. The middle section of the bridge can raise up and down, to let ships sail past, which is done with the use of hydraulics. The bridge is not only an icon of London, but to the whole of the U.K.
3) Golden Gate Bridge, USA
Probably one of the most famous bridges in the world, the Golden Gate Bridge has become an icon not only to San Francisco but to the whole of the United States. Designed by engineer Joseph Strauss, it was built to connect San Francisco with Marin County and to cross the strait known as the Golden Gate, giving it it’s name. Starting in 1933, it would take thousands of workers, 4 years, and 35 million dollars to complete. When the bridge was completed in 1937, it broke 2 records becoming the world’s longest and tallest suspension bridge. It received international recognition, had magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean, defied critics, and was praised for it’s Art Deco design and trademark red color. The bridge’s records would soon be broken in the future (refer to number 18) but it still keeps its popularity and iconic status to this day.
4) Banpo Bridge, South Korea
From the vintage to the modern, this really awesome bridge is found in Seoul and crosses the Han river. The bridge itself was actually created in 1982 but in 2007 a project was launched to revive the area; in 2009 the project did just that. The Koreans had the amazing idea of adding fountains across both sides. During the day, the fountain shoots 190 tons of water per minute from each side of the bridge from its 380 nozzles. At night the color of the fountain will be transformed to a rainbow by the 10,000 LED lights which create various colorful effects. The water jets are dynamic and can move in time with the music, creating spectacular ever-changing displays. As well as being stylish, the bridge is also environmentally friendly and the water is pumped directly from the river itself and continuously recycled. In 2008 the fountain made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest bridge fountain. This bridge is not only a triumph to Korea, but to architecture as well.
5) Pont Alexandre III, France
Elegance is the best word to describe this bridge. Located in Paris, construction started in 1896 and finished in 1900. It was built in the Art Nouveau style and is decorated with statues of nymphs, cherubs, winged horses, angels, ships and vintage lamps along its sides to create one of most decorated bridges in the world. Despite being French, it is named after Alexander the 3rd, Emperor of Russia, to honor the Franco-Russian alliance. Alexander’s son, Nicholas the 2nd, laid the first stone during the start of the construction. The statues gleaming in gold, bronze, copper and stone compliment the Parisian style of the bridge
6) Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia
Otherwise nicknamed the “coat-hanger” this bridge was built in 1815. Francis Greenway proposed building a bridge from the northern to the southern shore of the harbour. In 1990, design submissions were sent in but all the submissions were considered unsuitable. Fast forward to WWI and officials started to take the project to hand. An architect was found and Sydney Harbour Bridge construction started in 1924. It took 1,400 men eight years to build at a cost of 4.2 million pounds, or 6.61 million dollars. Six million hand driven rivets and 53,000 tonnes of steel were used in its construction. Fast forward to today and it is now one of the worlds most recognizable bridges, especially during the Sydney Harbor new year celebrations.
7) Brooklyn bridge, USA
Completed in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge has become a national historic landmark and has become an icon of New York. It is situated perfectly behind the tall skyscrapers of New York City to
create an amazing view. it connects Manhattan to Brooklyn and crosses the East river. John A. Roebling originally planned the Brooklyn Bridge, but died shortly before construction began. His son, Washington Roebling, continued his work but he himself was struck with disease and confined to an apartment overlooking the construction site. Emily Roebling, his wife, gave his instructions to the workers and was practically chief engineer until the bridge was completed. It was the biggest of its kind back then and was an engineering feat of the 19th century. P.T Barnum famously led a group of circus animals, including a herd of 21 elephants, across the bridge in 1884 to prove that the bridge was stable.
8) Khaju Bridge, Iran
The Khaju Bridge was built by the Persian King, Shah Abbas II, during the 17th century. It has 23 arches and the bridge also functions as a dam, controlling the waters of the Zayandeh river it looks over. The remains of stone seats, built for Shah Abbas II to sit on and admire the view, still remain. In the center, a pavilion was built exclusively for his pleasure, originally as a tea house.
9) Moses Bridge, Netherlands
Taking a break from the big and grand scale designs, this bridge is appropriately called the Moses Bridge because it splits the water in two…literally. The innovative design was built in a 17th century fortress. The fortress itself was being restored and a bridge was to be built across it but architects, not content with making the fortress so visible to its enemies, had other things on their minds. They decided to disguise it and put it under the moats waterline to make it almost invisible. It sits within the moat and allows people to cross virtually undetected from water level. This artistic design creates a great illusion that your walking through water as the bridge blends in with the landscape. It is entirely made of wood and is waterproofed so there is no worries about getting your feet wet!
10) Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge, China
While the Siduhe Bridge is the highest bridge in the world and the Millau Viaduct is the tallest bridge in the world, this bridge is the longest bridge in the world. It is a jaw dropping 102 miles in length and recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records. The rail bridge forms parts of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway and as the name suggests it helps link Danyang to Kunshan. Construction started in 2006, took 4 grueling years to be completed and then opened in 2011. The huge project cost an unbelievable 8.5 billion dollars and employed roughly 10,000 workers on site. Over 450,000 tons of steel was used for the structure. This beast of a bridge will probably cement itself in history for a long time.
11) Millau Viaduct, France
This bridge is in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the tallest bridge in the world. It stands at an incredible 1,125ft tall to become an engineering masterpiece. The bridge gained international recognition as a major engineering feat and received the Outstanding Structure Award in 2006, one of the most prestigious prizes an architect can win. The New York Times described it as “a triumph of engineering” and the BBC called it “one of the engineering wonders of the 21st Century”. The president of France, Jacques Chirac, opened the bridge in 2004 which cost an estimated 394 million euros, or 524 million dollars. The bridge itself crosses over the Tarn River Valley in Millau and gives drivers some of the most stunning views in all of France, even rising above the clouds on some days!
12) Siduhe Bridge, China
Opening in 2009, the Siduhe bridge is officially the worlds highest bridge; and probably the scariest for those who have a fear of heights! It is located an incredible 1,627 ft above ground to achieve this record. To get a scale of how high up this bridge is, it is higher than the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel tower, the Pyramids of Giza and the Big Ben. It sits quietly high above a river gorge in China’s Hubei Province surrounded by China’s mountains and greenery. Building this bridge was a challenge because of it’s location. It wasn’t possible to use cranes, boats or even get helicopters up there so the engineers came up with the interesting idea of using rockets instead. Over 1000 meters of tether was attached to the end of a rocket and shot all the way across the gorge to help set up foundations. It’s unique location and unique way of construction show that this bridge will probably remain the world’s highest bridge for years to come.
13) Henderson Waves Bridge, Singapore
The bridge was designed to look like waves, as you can guess by the name. It connects 2 of Singapore’s parks, Mount Faber Park and Telok Blangah Hill Park and has a stunning view of Singapore’s natural side. At night it is lit up to add more beauty to its already artistic design. Henderson Waves is made of steel and timber. Steel is needed for structural purposes, whereas timber celebrates the beauty of the parks that it connects while adding to its classy design. The bridge is equipped with seating, lounging and sight-seeing areas to compliment its surrounding view.
14) The Falkirk Wheel, Scotland
Their is more to this bridge than it’s very futuristic design. This is the worlds first and only boat lift! That’s right, the structure can actually rotate 180 degrees and is equipped with two locks which have 168 m long tunnels that emerge at the ends of the 2 wheels. Boats at the bottom sail into these tunnels, the structure then rotates, lifting the boats up to the top of the canal. The bridges unique way of connect the canals and transporting boats makes it an exceptional feat of modern engineering.
15) Octavio Frias De Oliveira Bridge, Brazil
Opened in 2008 and found in the city of São Paulo, It took 5 years to build and 450 workers to build it. The bridge is unusual due to it’s X shaped structure in the middle. Another attribute to this bridge is how it has two levels of traffic crossing one another as they pass through the pylon. The bridge is also decorated in LED lights that create amazing views and on special occasions such as Christmas, the bridge can be lit up to look li
ke a Christmas Tree.
16) Slauerhoffbrug Bridge
No, this one isn’t fake! This extremely bizarre bridge is found in Leeuwarden. Because of the vast amount of rivers running throughout the Netherlands and boat traffic as high as the volume of vehicles, the country needed a bridge able to quickly raise and lower itself; to benefit both road and river traffic. This is how this bridge came to be. Constructed in 2000 from iron and steel, the bridge is raised and lowered 10 times a day with the use of hydraulics.
17) Rialto Bridge, Italy
This is another bridge that is rich in history. Built in the 15th century, it crosses over the Grand Canals of Venice. The bridge was technically built before that, in 1181 as a small barge that served as the only crossing to get to the other side of the Grand Canal. It was in 1551 when authorities asked for the bridge to be upgraded. Some of the best architects in history, including Michelangelo and Palladio, offered plans to redesign the bridge but the honor eventually went to Antonio da Ponte. Many architects were skeptical of his plans and predicted failure of the bridge but he has defied his critics even till this day. The classic venetian architecture adds to its appeal and until the nineteenth century, Rialto Bridge was still the only bridge to span the Grand Canal and the only link between the two sides of Venice until more modern day bridges were built.
18) Akashi-Kaikyō Bridge, Japan
One of Japan’s greatest pieces of engineering, this bridge holds the record for bring the longest suspension bridge in the world with a total length of 3,911 m. It would take four Brooklyn Bridges to span the same distance! Opening in 1998, it took 12 years to build and it links the city of Kobe in Hyogo Prefecture to Iwaya in the Awaji Island. Funnily enough it was never built with the intention of being the longest suspension bridge in the world but in 1995 the Kobe Earthquake hit halfway during it’s construction and consequently added an extra 3 ft which gave the bridge its record. The length of the cables used in the bridge totals 300,000 km. That’s enough to circle the earth 7.5 times!
19) Stari Most, Bosnia
Quite literally translated as “Old Bridge” in English, Stari Most was thought to be built in 1566 and managed to withstand the test of time until the bridge was destroyed in 1993 during the outbreak of the Bosnian war. More than $13 million had been spent on rebuilding the 16th Century bridge and surrounding buildings until it was finally restored and opened to the public again in 2004. It is a tradition for locals to dive off this bridge into the river below and the bridge is also recognized as a world heritage site.
20) The Gateshead Millennium Bridge, England
It was opened by The Queen in 2002 and is found in the city of Newcastle, crossing over the Tyne River. The Gateshead Millennium Bridge is unique in that it is one of the few bridges in the world that tilts! When it is tilted one way, it turns into a normal pedestrian bridge that the public can cross over. When it is tilted the other way though it let boats and ships pass beneath. The bridge has won many architectural awards for its design and is nicknamed the “Winking Eye Bridge” because it looks like an eye winking every time it tilts.
21) Langkawi Sky Bridge, Malaysia
The Langkawi Sky Bridge can be accessed via cable car. The bridge is a 410 ft-long curved pedestrian bridge above Gunung Matchincang roughly 2,300 ft above sea level. Once you travel up the mountain via the the cable car, the bridge gives tourists the opportunity to view some of the most beautiful sights of the Malaysian mountains and rainforests.
22) Rolling Bridge, England
This unique bridge is found in the Paddington Basin area of London. Something that makes this bridge so special is how every Friday, the octagonal shape rolls out to reveal itself as a bridge. Later on during the day, it will curl itself back up into its original form, hiding itself away again until it reemerges the next Friday. The bridge uses hydraulics to achieve this and it was completed in 2004. It was designed by Thomas Heatherwick, who also designed the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Cauldron
23) Chengyang Bridge, China
Nicknamed the “Wind and Rain Bridge” and hidden amongst the rice fields and mountains, this bridge is found in the Guangxi Province of China spanning the Linxi River. Built in 1916 by the Dong people, an ethnic minority in China, the bridge has five separate pagoda structures with porches and pavilions. The traditional Chinese architecture makes for a fantastic looking structure but the most amazing thing about this bridge is that during construction, not a single nail was used, relying instead on some amazing architectural tricks.
24) Chapel Bridge, Switzerland
Located in the town of Lucerne, this stunning bridge was built in 1333 and crosses over the Reuss river diagonally. Rich in history, it is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe. The inside of the bridge is decorated by 17th century paintings depicting events in local history all of which was nearly destroyed in a fire roughly 20 years ago. About two thirds of the bridge and 85 of the 110 paintings were lost, some dating back to 1611. Only 25 could be saved or restored and the bridge itself was rebuilt a year later.
25) Helix Bridge, Singapore
This bridge across the Singapore river is unique in how it was designed to look like the structure of DNA. Opened in 2010, the Helix Bridge is made mostly from steel and is illuminated at night by ribbons of LED lighting to compliment its unique design.