Bridges are amazing structures in that they connect places, making for efficient pathways and impossible routes possible. They also join people living on different banks, and when that connection can be made within a beautifully-constructed setting, as are the world’s bridges on this list, those times become lifelong memories for families, friends, and loved ones.
Chapel Bridge, Switzerland
Lucerne’s landmark and Europe’s oldest covered bridge, built in 1332, was initially erected as a part of the city fortifications in the 14th century. The Chapel Bridge extends from the New Town on the southern bank of the Reuss to the Rathausquai in the medieval Old Town. It also embraces Lucerene’s other dominant landmark, the Water Tower, which is an octagonal dome that was used as a treasury, prison, and torture chamber, as well as for archiving, while the middle floor of which, today, is the headquarters of the Lucerne Artillery Association. The defiant 4.4–5 meters long by 39 meters in circumference and 34.5 meters in height, it also served as a lookout post for monitoring the bay and casually observing inbound and outbound ships.
Although the country is abundant in wooden bridges, the fate of this timber bridge turned tragic, with a fire on the night of August 18 in 1993, following which, only two bridgeheads were able to be salvaged, along with the Water Tower. Nevertheless, the bridge was remade in only eight months to open again, on April 14, 1994. Although the youth of the 17th century was known for vandalizing the pictured panels, before the fire, 147 of the 158 panels remained original, but 110 incurring direct damage from the disaster. The Chapel Bridge is easily recognizable from air, appearing to connect the city together along with the Spreuer Bridge.
Charles Bridge, Czech Republic
Part of the Royal Route, the medieval construction of the Charles Bridge in Prague stands on 16 pillars as one of the most beautiful arches in the world at 516 meters long, 9.5 meters wide, and 13 meters in height. It was initiated by Charles IV in 1357, following the flood-destructed “Judith Bridge” fifteen years prior, with Peter Parler, the famous German-Czech architect-in-lead of the construction, that took nearly 50 years to finish. Once known as “Stone” or “Prague,” the bridge finally opened in 1502 as the only bridge over the Vltava river until 1841. It is now the oldest bridge on that river and the second oldest in the country. It is often filled with various artists, painters, and musicians for entertainment.
Many legends behind the bridge keep hundreds of thousands of tourists fleeing to the location, while lingering on the spot for its beauty. The bridge is built out of sandstone blocks, and it is rumored that one of the builders has included raw eggs as a component in mortar. Another intriguing legend is of the notable St. John of Nepomuk statue on the bridge that has a significant religious meaning regarding the Czech saint. People say that he sacrificed his life in torture upon not giving away a queen’s secret, with his tongue naturally preserved, interestingly enough, for over a century after his death. Following his body being thrown off the bridge, the arch collapsed. Only after the builders promised the soul of the first person to step on the future bridge to be given to the Devil did the bridge become repairable again.
Donghai Bridge, China
This most famous 32.5 km-long Chinese bridge with the meaning of ‘the Great Bridge East China Sea’ was the longest sea bridge in the world at its opening in 2008. Connecting Shanghai with the island port city of Yanshan, the Donghai Bridge serves as a significant link for traffic to access the major trading hub in China.
This drawbridge that lets ships through by splitting in the skywards direction in the middle as needed, is made up of several separate arcs, with the longest extending for 420 meters. The fanatics of active recreation enjoy traversing the deep stretches of this bridge, known to be made exceptionally safe by the integrity of the workers who built it and the quality materials that they used.
Dragon Bridge, Vietnam
Located in Da Nang, the 666-meter long Dragon Bridge is the longest bridge in Vietnam, known to mesmerize with its display of lights, fire, and water. This bridge which appears like a golden dragon is composed of six lanes to accommodate the city’s abundant traffic to travel freely across the Han River. It also serves directly to the visitors to the My Khe and Non Nuoc beaches. Travel photographers enjoy the spectacularly shaped bridge, while those searching for meaning can proudly traverse the arches knowing that it symbolizes power, nobility, and good fortune, as did the Ly Dynasty back in the day.
Following two years of construction, the bridge commenced its purpose in 2013 on the city’s 38th anniversary. The colorful LED lights can be observed any day of the week, while on the weekends and annual festivities, the dragon spits water and breathes fire, beginning at 21:00. Even the locals enjoy sitting at the numerous terraced riverfront bars, restaurants, and cafes, overlooking the notable landmark while sitting at the waterfront along the river allows one to marvel at the marble carvings of animals and deities.
Designed by the talented and, with a mind full of boundless imagination, Ben van Berkel, this unique bridge, unofficially called the “Swan Bridge,” is of an unusual outline and recognizable shape of the graceful water bird. Set on the Meuse river, the 802 meters long construction was opened in 1996, functioning as the world’s longest drawbridge for fifteen years. The high, fine support reminiscent of a Swan’s neck rises 139 meters into the sky and gets glimmering with bright festive lights during the evening as if bejeweled.
At only two meters thick, the Erasmusbrug is one of the thinnest and lightest bridges on the globe, while its intricate construction cost over 163 million euros, and Queen Beatrix took part in its grand opening. Since then, it has been a gathering spot for social and cultural activities. Even Jackie Chan starring there in the series ‘Who am I?’, and Tiesto uses the beautiful bridge as a background for his videos. This landmark of Rotterdam also connects the city center to Kop van Zuid, one of the modern city’s newest and most active districts.
Hangzhou Bay Bridge, China
Sitting on the east coast of China and spanning across Hangzhou Bay, the Hangzhou Bay Bridge is the longest ocean-crossing bridge globally, at 36 kilometers or 23 miles long and 14 meters or 46 feet wide. Formed in the letter “S” over the sea, it connects the northern cities of Zhenjiadai, Haiyan, and Jiaxing, and the southern cities of Shuiluwan, Cixi, and Ningbo in the Zhejiang Province. The drive along the red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and purple guardrails at every 5 kilometers is the experience many seek. Those viewing the bridge from afar, enjoy the rainbow appearance over the sea.
Opened on May 1, 2008, the bridge is equipped with an asphalt G15 road, where vehicles can drive up to 80 km/h in the slow left lane and up to 100 km/h in the fast right lane. The middle of the bridge also offers a sightseeing platform called Hai Tian Yi Zhou with breakdown service and is shaped like a flying eagle. The 145-meter or 476-foot high tower located on the platform provides an unforgettable view of colorful lights dancing over the waters, the Qiantang Tidal Bore, and the winged-dwellers of the sea region. Enabling one to take in views via the platform, stopping on the bridge itself is not allowed.
Sydney Harbor Bridge, Australia
This steel-arch bridge spanning the width of the entire Sydney Harbor connecting Sydney in the south to the northern suburbs in Australia that also goes by the name Port Jackson has been serving as a major traffic link since it opened in 1932. At some 500 meters or 1,650 feet in length, it is among the longest steel-arch bridges on the globe. Equipped with four railroad tracks, a highway, and two pedestrian walkways, as envisioned by Johh Bradfield, a civil engineer, he presented the idea to Australia’s parliament in 1912. Upon the approval, he was appointed as the lead for the project of this bridge along with the new electric railway system for Sydney and the suburbs.
With the work delayed by the First World War, it was not until1922 that the funding became available as well as considerable progress in the steelmaking industry to make the steel arch bridge dream, a reality. Brought to life by the English enterprise, Dorman Long & Co. and Sir Ralph Freeman designing the detailed work, the specs were chosen for being less expensive to forward than cantilever while also withstanding heavier loads, as the bridged linked the southern Dawes Point to the northern Milsons Point. The construction begun in 1924, sans temporary support system, but building out from each bank due to the deep waters of the harbor, to be finally opened in an elaborate ceremony on March 19, 1932.
The Octavio Frias De Oliveira Bridge, Brazil
This Brazilian bridge located in Sao Paulo. is the only bridge in the world with an X-design for its support system. This unique from the architectural point of view form of construction makes the bridge so recognizable and beautiful in a different way from any other magnificent bridge on the globe. The bridge is set on the Pineiros River as a major traffic intersection, with some 5,000 cars crossing it every hour, and the crossed supports withholding two crossing roads at the heights of 12 and 24 meters in the air.
After two years of construction, the bridge was completed by May of 2018, while a few months later, the bridge was opened, equipped with a multi-colored lights LED illumination system. Presented as a New Year’s gift for the city’s people, the bridge was named after Octavio Frias de Oliveira, the founder of the Fola de Sao Paulo newspaper and one of the most influential Brazilian statesmen. Also known as ‘Ponte Estaida,’ the bridge immediately became a national landmark that gets especially crowded during the winter holidays.
Tower Bridge, United Kingdom
This bridge has been designed to complement the Tower of London, which it adjoins, as a movable drawbridge, a design also known as the double-leaf bascule. Spanning the width of the Thames River, it connects the Greater London boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Southwark as one of the most distinct landmarks of the English capital. With the construction completed in 1894, this around 240-meter long bridge opens 76 meters wide to let the ships pass through. Its twin towers are 61 meters tall.
The pair of glass-covered walkways connecting the towers are very popular and adored by tourists, designed originally to allow a pathway for pedestrians when the bridge is raised. Operated by hydraulic pumps that were steam-driven until 1976 and electric motors since then, the steam power system is still kept in good shape as a tourist attraction for a lesson of the past.
Viaduc De Millau, France
Sitting across the gorge in the namesake city of France, Millau, the bridge is one of the highest traversing arches on the globe, with the record high point located at 341 meters. It was conceived in collaboration between the famous, modern engineer Michel Virlogeux and British architect Norman Foster to span across the valley of the Tarn river in the mountainous region. The unique design optimizes the traffic movement between the capital city of Paris and the city of Béziers.
Much brainpower has been put into the design of this bridge, with mathematical and geological research being carried out by the country’s brightest minds, coming to a verdict that the bridge must be erected over the deepest point of the country. Opened in 2004, the length of this 32-meter wide bridge comprises 2,460 meters. The bridge became world-famous right after its opening. At the same time, in 2006, it was given the prestigious IABSE award upon being declared as one of the most outstanding architectural constructions in the world. Not being a toll-free bridge, it costs 6 to 8 euros per passenger car to cross, with the price varying by season.
With various legends and historical events and hard work behind them, these bridges are also all one-of-a-kind beautiful, world-known arches. Visiting each is well-worth it on one’s next trip to all the major continents, for a special memory of meeting half-way or being in a place that can connect differences and opposites.