Across the annals of history, humankind has employed architectural ingenuity to conquer geographical barriers, facilitating seamless transportation. Many of these remarkable bridges have transcended mere structures, evolving into iconic landmarks that play pivotal roles in the infrastructure of various global regions.
A select few have ascended to the status of city icons, celebrated for their profound impact and awe-inspiring engineering achievements. Presented below is a compilation of the world’s most renowned bridges.
15. Great Belt Bridge
The Great Belt Bridge consists of two distinct segments, the Eastern and Western sections, with the island of Sprogø serving as the dividing point. The Eastern Bridge, stretching over 1,624 meters (5,328 feet), is a suspension bridge that spans the deepest portion of Storebælt, connecting the island of Zealand to Sprogø.
Remarkably, it boasts the third-longest main span globally. Ascending to an elevation of 254 meters (833 feet) above sea level, the Eastern Bridge’s two towering pylons hold the distinction of being Denmark’s highest points. On the other hand, the Western Bridge extends over 6,611 meters (21,689 feet) and serves as a combined rail and road bridge linking Sprogø to Funen.
14. Chapel Bridge
The Chapel Bridge, a historic structure spanning 204 meters (670 feet) across the Reuss River within Switzerland’s picturesque city of Lucerne, holds the distinction of being Europe’s oldest wooden covered bridge. It stands as a prominent and cherished tourist destination in Switzerland. Constructed back in 1333, this covered bridge originally served a strategic purpose by fortifying the city of Lucerne against potential threats and attacks.
Within the bridge’s interior, visitors can admire a collection of 17th-century paintings that vividly depict significant moments from Lucerne’s rich history. However, a significant portion of the bridge and many of these precious paintings fell victim to a devastating fire in 1993. Fortunately, a determined effort was made to swiftly reconstruct this iconic landmark.
13. Chengyang Bridge
The Chengyang Bridge, alternatively recognized as the Wind and Rain Bridge, has stood since its construction in 1916, and it claims the title of the most renowned among the wind and rain bridges situated in the Dong Minority Region of China. This historic bridge gracefully spans the Linxi River and remains actively utilized by the local community.
Notably, the Chengyang Bridge is a remarkable architectural feat, crafted entirely from wood and stone, without the use of nails or rivets. It proudly holds the distinction of being the largest among all the wind and rain bridges in the region, measuring an impressive 64.4 meters in length, 3.4 meters in width, and soaring to a height of 10.6 meters.
12. Brooklyn Bridge
Constructed in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge stands as a magnificent link between Manhattan and Brooklyn, gracefully spanning the waters of the East River. Upon its inaugural opening and for several subsequent years, it proudly held the distinction of being the world’s longest suspension bridge. Today, it remains an enduring symbol of New York, revered as an iconic landmark.
Notably, the Brooklyn Bridge offers a generously wide pedestrian walkway, welcoming both walkers and cyclists. This walkway assumes a heightened significance during times of adversity, serving as a vital connection when conventional means of traversing the East River are rendered inaccessible. This scenario unfolded during various blackouts and, most notably, in the aftermath of the tragic events of September 11, 2001.
11. Alcantara Bridge
Spanning the Tagus River at Alcántara in Spain, the Alcántara Bridge stands as an exquisite testament to the ingenuity of ancient Roman bridge construction. This remarkable bridge came into being between 104 and 106 AD, commissioned by the Roman Emperor Trajan in 98 AD. In tribute to Trajan’s legacy, a triumphal arch graces the bridge’s center, accompanied by a modest temple situated at one end.
Throughout its storied existence, the Alcántara Bridge has endured more damage from the ravages of warfare than the forces of nature. On one side, the smallest arch fell victim to the destruction wrought by the Moors, while on the opposite side, the second arch met a similar fate at the hands of the Spanish, who dismantled it as a strategic measure to impede Portuguese progress.
10. Sydney Harbour Bridge
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is an iconic and extensively photographed landmark, widely recognized in Australia. This engineering marvel ranks as the world’s largest steel arch bridge, boasting a towering apex that reaches an impressive height of 134 meters (440 feet) above Sydney Harbour.
This monumental structure required a painstaking eight-year construction effort and was officially inaugurated in March 1932. Notably, owing to the property of steel to expand or contract in response to temperature fluctuations, the bridge remains dynamic rather than entirely static. As a result, it has the capacity to rise or descend by up to 18 cm (7.1 inches), showcasing its adaptability to changing environmental conditions.
9. Stari Most
Stari Most, which translates to “The Old Bridge,” is an illustrious bridge that spans the Neretva River in the city of Mostar, located in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Originally constructed by the Ottoman Turks in the year 1566, this architectural gem graced the landscape for an impressive 427 years until it tragically succumbed to destruction in 1993 during the tumultuous Bosnian War.
In the wake of this devastating loss, a determined effort was initiated to embark on its reconstruction. The painstaking project culminated in the unveiling of the new bridge in 2004. A cherished tradition associated with Stari Most involves the daring leaps of young men from the bridge into the chilly waters of the Neretva below. This act, although filled with risk due to the frigid river, is a testament to the skills and rigorous training of the brave divers who dare to attempt it.
8. Si-o-se Pol
Si-o-se Pol, which translates to “The Bridge of 33 Arches,” is a renowned bridge gracing the city of Isfahan in Iran. It holds a distinguished position as one of the most celebrated illustrations of Safavid bridge architecture. Commissioned by Shah Abbas I in the year 1602, this bridge stands as a remarkable testament to architectural prowess, constructed primarily from bricks and stones.
Spanning an impressive 295 meters in length and 13.75 meters in width, the bridge’s historical evolution reveals that it initially featured 40 arches. However, over time, this count gradually diminished to its present-day configuration of 33 arches. Si-o-se Pol stands as a cherished and enduring symbol of architectural excellence in Isfahan.
7. Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge
The Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge, often referred to as the Pearl Bridge, proudly holds the distinction of being the world’s longest suspension bridge, boasting an impressive length of 1,991 meters (6,532 feet). It gracefully spans the Akashi Strait in Japan, serving as a vital link between Kobe on the mainland and Iwaya on Awayi Island. The bridge’s construction spanned nearly 12 years, culminating in its inauguration for traffic in 1998.
Remarkably, the central span initially measured 1,990 meters. However, the landscape-altering Kobe earthquake, which occurred on January 17, 1995, led to the displacement of the bridge’s two towers. Consequently, it became necessary to extend the central span by an additional meter.
6. Rialto Bridge
The Rialto Bridge, one of the quartet of bridges gracefully spanning the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy, holds the distinction of being the eldest among them. This present stone bridge, featuring a singular span envisioned by the ingenious Antonio da Ponte, reached its completion in 1591. It took the place of a preceding wooden bridge that had met its demise in 1524.
The engineering feat accomplished with this bridge was deemed so audacious that certain architects foretold its eventual collapse. However, the Rialto Bridge has not only endured the test of time but has emerged as a revered architectural emblem of Venice, triumphantly defying its early detractors.
5. Charles Bridge
The Charles Bridge stands as an iconic stone Gothic structure, gracefully arching over the Vltava River in the enchanting city of Prague, Czech Republic. Its construction commenced in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV and reached completion in the early 15th century. Serving as the sole passage across the Vltava River, the Charles Bridge held pivotal significance as the primary link connecting the Old Town with the vicinity surrounding Prague Castle.
This vital connection endowed Prague with prominence as a pivotal trade route bridging Eastern and Western Europe. Today, it stands as one of Prague’s most frequented attractions, adorned by artists, kiosks, and various vendors, drawing a multitude of tourists who traverse its historic expanse.
4. Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge, an architectural marvel, seamlessly combines the elements of a bascule and suspension bridge, gracefully spanning the River Thames in the heart of London. Its proximity to the historic Tower of London lends it both its name and an enduring association with the city’s identity, making it an iconic symbol of London itself.
The ambitious construction of Tower Bridge commenced in 1886, culminating in its completion after eight years of meticulous effort. This distinguished bridge comprises two towering structures intricately connected at the upper level by a pair of horizontal walkways, meticulously designed to withstand the formidable forces exerted on the suspended sections of the bridge.
3. Millau Bridge
The Millau Viaduct is a colossal cable-stayed road bridge that gracefully stretches across the scenic valley of the Tarn River, nestled near the town of Millau in southern France. Distinguished as the world’s loftiest vehicular bridge, it features the highest pinnacle of its pylon soaring to an astounding height of 343 meters (1,125 feet)—marginally surpassing the Eiffel Tower’s summit.
Originally, the speed limit on this bridge was set at 130 km/h (81 mph). However, this limit was subsequently reduced to 110 km/h (68 mph) owing to traffic slowing down significantly. This phenomenon occurred because tourists couldn’t resist capturing photographs of the bridge while traveling across it. Shortly after the bridge’s inauguration for vehicular traffic, passengers found themselves compelled to pause, admire the breathtaking landscape, and marvel at the bridge’s architectural magnificence.
2. Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge, a captivating suspension bridge, elegantly stretches across the expanse of the Golden Gate, the strait connecting San Francisco to Marin County in the north. This architectural masterpiece, conceived by the visionary Joseph B. Strauss—whose statue adorns the southern observation deck—embodied a seven-year construction effort, ultimately achieving completion in 1937.
Upon its inauguration, the Golden Gate Bridge proudly held the distinction of being the world’s longest suspension bridge span, a title that added to its allure as one of San Francisco’s and California’s premier tourist attractions. Over time, the bridge’s span length was eclipsed by eight other remarkable bridges. The iconic hue of red-orange was deliberately selected for the bridge’s exterior, serving as a strategic choice to enhance visibility through the region’s frequent and enveloping fog.
1. Ponte Vecchio
The Ponte Vecchio, which translates to “old bridge” in Italian, is a venerable Medieval bridge that spans the picturesque Arno River within the enchanting city of Florence. Remarkably, this bridge stands as the sole Florentine bridge to have emerged unscathed from the ravages of World War II.
What lends the Ponte Vecchio its distinctive charm is the enduring presence of shops nestled along its historic span, echoing a tradition that harkens back to the era of the powerful Medici family. Originally, these shops were occupied by butchers, but in modern times, they have found new purpose as homes to jewelers, art dealers, and souvenir vendors.
Interestingly, the concept of bankruptcy is believed to trace its origins to this very location. When a merchant found himself unable to settle his debts, soldiers would physically break the table on which he displayed his goods, referred to as the “banco.” This practice came to be known as “bancorotto,” literally translating to “broken table.”