Far from being just a means to get from A to B, bridges have long been an opportunity for architects to really go wild and experiment.
Sure, you know the Golden Gate and are familiar with Tower Bridge, but what about the feats of engineering that you might not have heard of?
Even if you never knew you were a bridge fan, you soon will be after taking a look at some of these incredible structures from all over the world.
1. Golden Bridge, Vietnam
This is the newest addition to the list as it was only opened to the public in June 2018. Situated in the coastal city of Da Nang in central Vietnam, many people have noted how it looks like something straight out of Lord of the Rings.
More than 1,400m above sea level, the dainty bridge winds over the Ba Na hills and is held up by two giant stone-coloured hands. Pedestrians can now walk along the 150m bridge, which took less than a year to build.
2. High Trestle Trail, USA
The High Trestle Trail is a 25-mile trail running route through five towns and four counties in Iowa. The highlight is this bridge across Des Moines River.
Opened in 2011, by day it’s a striking structure of 41 steel frames made to look like you’re looking through a mine shaft – a nod to Iowa’s mining history. By night, it looks completely different as the 40m high bridge is lit up in striking blue electric lights.
3. Chengyang Bridge, China
The Chengyang Bridge is found in Guangxi, China, and is an iconic demonstration of Dong architecture. It’s the most famous example of a wind and rain bridge – the inbuilt pavilions offer locals shelter from both elements. Bridges are normally places to cross, but these kinds of structures are traditionally places to meet, relax and spend some time.
Made of wood and stone, it stretches across the Linxi River. No nails have been used in this feat of engineering, but rather the bridge has special groove joints to hold itself together.
4. Helix Bridge, Singapore
Opened in 2010, this pedestrian footpath can be found in the Marina Bay area of Singapore. The double-helix design was inspired by the structure of DNA – in fact, pairs of the letters C and G, as well as A and T, are lit up over the bridge to represent the four bases of DNA.
Considering the climate of Singapore, inner spirals have been built into the bridge to give people shade from the hot sun. At night it becomes even more photogenic thanks to the LED lights across the structure.
5. U Bein Bridge, Myanmar
Built around 1850, the U Bein Bridge is thought to be the world’s longest and oldest teak footbridge. It curves around Taungthaman Lake in Mandalay for 1,200m. In the summer months the lake basically dries up and the bridge feels like it’s very high, but during monsoon season the waters can often flood over the top of the wooden slats.
There’s no disputing the best time to head to the bridge – at sunset the light will glisten over the water, and you’ll be able to see the silhouettes of the monks walking along the pathway.
6. Langkawi Sky Bridge, Malaysia
When you can’t be bothered to trek through thick jungle, what you need is a treetop bridge.
One of the best things about the Langkawi Sky Bridge is how it’s curved – the design means that you never know when the end is in sight and often your view forward stretches out into the jungle. At 125 metres in length, it is one of the world’s longest curve suspension bridges and was so hard to install that each different part had to be lifted to the top of the mountain by helicopter before it was put together.
7. Si-o-se Pol, Iran
Quite literally “the Bridge of 33 Arches”, this effortlessly elegant piece of Persian architecture is beautiful during the day, but even better after dark when its brightly-lit vaults reflect perfectly in the pristine waters below.
Built at the turn of the 17th century from yellow bricks and limestone, the 297 metre structure remains a popular meeting place for evening walks, street music, and various water sports.
8. Tianjin Eye, China
London built a Ferris wheel next to a river, so Tianjin went further and built a wheel over one. Half-river-crossing-half-funfair, the wheel straddles the bridge with geometric precision, and stretches 120 metres above the rushing waters and commuters below.
By night the wheel lights up in vibrant shades of neon, and can accommodate almost 800 passengers each hour.
9. Ponte Vecchio, Italy
A medieval masterpiece overburdened with buildings perched precariously above the river, this bridge-cum-village in Florence long hosted the city’s meat market, but the stench grew so great that a royal decree replaced the butchers with jewellers sometime in the 16th century.
Unseen by passing tourists, the eastern side contains the Vasari Corridor, a secret passage commissioned by Cosimo de Medici to connect the Pitti Palace with the Uffizi.
10. Banpo Bridge, South Korea
Most river bridges try to avoid the rushing waters below, but Banpo Bridge in South Korea instead leans into its aquatic surroundings. Both sides of the structure are lined with hundreds of nozzles that exude a curtain of water all along the structure’s considerable length.
A bridge-cum-fountain might be interesting enough on its own, but after dark the spray lights up with all the colours of the rainbow.
11. Moses Bridge, The Netherlands
Whilst most bridges go over water, the Moses Bridge cuts straight through it. Made of waterproof wood, it parts the water – hence its biblical name.
Designed to blend into the landscape, it’s also a bit of an optical illusion because you can’t see it from far away. And thanks to a pump controlling the water level, the bridge is designed to stay dry all the time.
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