When it comes to engineering feats, bridges take the pride of place. Bridges have had a long history, even long before the invention of tools or discovery of metals. In those times, bridges were mainly built to cross on foot. However, as civilization progressed, so did the scale and design to the bridges.
Did you know that the longest bridge in the world today is the Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge in China? It spans an astounding 165 kilometres (102.4 miles), as part of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway! Incidentally, China also takes the credit for the highest bridge in the world. It is the Beipanjiang Bridge that soars 565 meters (1,854 feet) above a river between Yunnan and Guizhou provinces.
There are innumerable bridges across the globe and, of these, we bring you the 15 most awesome and amazing ones:
#15 The U Bein Bridge
Length: 1,220 meters (4,000 feet)
Year of construction: 1857
This bridge, situated 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) south of Mandalay, spans the Taugthaman Lake in Amarapura, Myanmar. The bridge is made entirely from teak wood and came into existence quite by chance. When the capital moved from Amarapura to Mandalay, the city’s mayor, U Bein, utilized the discarded teak wood planks from the palace to build this magnificent bridge. It is said to be the longest teakwood bridge in the world.
#14 Capilano Suspension Bridge
Length: 137meters (450 feet)
Year of construction: 1889
Located in North Vancouver, this bridge stands 70 meters (230 feet) above the Capilano River. It was originally made of hemp rope and cedar planks. In 1903, this material was replaced with wire cables. It was completely rebuilt in 1956. This privately-owned bridge was first purchased by Edwards Mahon in 1901 and, after changing a few hands, is now in possession of Nancy Stibbard, who acquired it in 1983 and made it a huge tourist attraction.
#13 Pont du Gard Aqueduct
Length: 50kilometers (31 miles)
Year of construction: Between 19 BC and 150 AD
This arch bridge in Gard is actually an aqueduct, built during the reign of the Roman Empire. It is the highest of all the Roman aqueduct bridges and crosses the Gardon River in Vers-Pont-du-Gard in southern France. The need of this aqueduct arose due to the stuffy climate that made bathing a must to keep body odour away. For this, the Romans tapped into an underground spring at Uzes, that lay 50 kilometres (31 miles) away, and brought the water to the city via this aqueduct bridge. So precise was the engineering that there is only a difference of an inch from one end to the other. Today, it is included as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
#12 Tower Bridge, London
Length: 244 meters (801 feet)
Year of construction: 1894
This moveable suspension bridge spans the Thames River and takes its name from the famous Tower of London. It was built with giant moveable roadways that lift up for the passing ships. It is required to be raised to provide access to and from the Upper Pool of London. The bridge is raised only for the registered vessels with a mast or superstructure measuring 9 meters (30 feet) or more. In a year, the bridge is raised around 850 times.
#11 Nanpu Bridge
Length: 428 meters (1,400 feet)
Year of construction: 1991
This bridge, built in Shanghai over Huangpu River, is the 57th longest cable-stayed bridge in the world. It was designed by the Shanghai Municipal Engineering Design Institute, Shanghai Urban Construction College and Shanghai Urban Construction Design Institute, under the supervision of the German-born, Holger Svensson, a structural engineer. It is famous for its innovative design.
#10 Pearl Bridge
Length: 3,911 meters (12,800 feet)
Year of construction: 1998
This bridge links the city of Kobe with the mainland of Honshu. It boasts of the longest central span among all the suspension bridges, making it the longest suspension bridge in the world. What has made this bridge even more famous is its strength, since it survived the Kobe earthquake of January 17, 1995, even before it was completed. Previously people used to travel by ferries from Kobe to Iwaya, but the sinking of two ferries in 1955, that killed 168 people, prompted the authorities to plan this bridge.
#9 Brooklyn Bridge
Country: United States
Length:1,825.4meters (5,989 feet)
Year of construction: 1883
This bridge, an icon of the New York City, is one of the oldest in the US and was the first hybrid cable-stayed suspension bridge. It connects Manhattan and Brooklyn by spanning the East River. Its main span measures 486.3 meters (1,595.5 feet). In 1964, it was designated as a National Historic Landmark and in 1972, a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. The bridge was the brainchild of a German immigrant, named John Augustus Roebling.
#8 Tsing Ma Bridge
Length: 1,377meters (4,518 feet)
Year of construction: 1997
This suspension bridge in Hong Kong comes ninth in the world, as far as the length of the span is concerned. It is also the largest bridge of this type, carrying both road and rail traffic. It connects the two islands of Tsing Yi and Ma Wan. The bridge was designed by Mott MacDonald Group, a UK-based consultancy that took its inspiration from the Forth Bridge of Scotland and the Severn Bridge of England.
#7 Gateshead Millennium Bridge
Length: 126 meters (413 feet)
Year of construction: 2001
The unique shape of this bridge at Gateshead, England, is what makes it a tourist attraction. This bridge over Tyne River is also referred to as the ‘Blinking Eye Bridge’ or the ‘Winking Eye Bridge’, due to its shape and the tilting method. It is the world’s only tilting bridge and is meant for pedestrians and cyclists only. Built by VolkerWessels Stevin NV, this bridge has two large curved spans, one of which is a walkway and cycle track. Two hydraulic rams rotate the bridge to let the ships and boats to pass underneath.
#6 Ponte Vecchio
Length:95meters (312 feet)
Year of construction:996 AD
This stone bridge, located in Florence, Italy, was built in medieval times by Romans and was first mentioned in a document dated 996 AD. This bridge, consisting of three segmental arches, crosses the Arno River at its narrowest point. It was famous for butcher shops that got replaced by those of jewellers, art dealers and souvenir sellers. An interesting fact is that Adolf Hitler ordered his troops not to destroy this bridge during World War II.
#5 Sydney Harbor Bridge
Length:1,149meters (3,770 feet)
Year of construction:1932
The arch-based design of this bridge has given it the sobriquet of ‘The Coathanger’. This sixth-longest bridge in the world has its tallest arch at a height of 48.8 meters (160 feet). The bridge was built by a British firm, Dorman Long and Co. Ltd., under the direction of Dr John Bradfield of the NSW Department of Public Works. The bridge not only affords a panoramic view of the harbour and the Sydney Opera House but is also used for complementing the fireworks displays on the New Year’s Eve.
#4 Golden Gate Bridge
Country: United States
Length:2,737meters (8,980 feet)
Year of construction: 1937
This suspension bridge in San Francisco spans the Golden Gate Strait that connects the San Francisco Bay with the Pacific Ocean. Not only is this bridge the most recognizable bridge in the world, but most photographed too. It was built by Joseph Strauss, who faced many hurdles in completing this project. The bridge was declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
#3 Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas
Length:575meters (1,886 feet)
Year of construction:2013
This vertical lift bridge in Bordeaux lifts 77 meters (253 feet) over the Garonne River. Its 110 meters or 361 feet-long main span is lifted up by means of four slender pylons. It has a system of blue and green lights. The blue light depicts high tide and the green, low tide. It has been named in honour of Jacques Chaban-Delmas, former Prime Minister of France and Ex-Mayor of Bordeaux.
#2 Russky Bridge
Length:3,100meters (10,171 feet)
Year of construction: 2012
This bridge to Russky Island, over Eastern Bosporus Strait, has the distinction of being the world’s longest cable-stayed bridge with a central span measuring 1,104 meters (3,620 feet). It also has the second highest pylons in the world, reaching 321 meters (1,053 feet). It was constructed to serve the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference held in Vladivostok in 2012.
#1 Hangzhou Bay Bridge
Length: 35.6 kilometres (22.1 miles)
Year of construction: 2008
This cable-stayed highway bridge crosses the Hangzhou Bay in the eastern coastal region of China. It links the municipalities of Jiaxing and Ningbo in Zhejiang province. This bridge is sturdy enough to withstand the strong tidal waves and earthquakes that this area is prone to. An attraction of this bridge is it’s 10,000 square meters (110,000 square feet) service centre known as the ‘Land of the Sea and the Sky’, which not only has a shopping mall, restaurant, exhibition facilities and a hotel, but also a 145.6 meter-high (90 feet-high) lookout tower.
These 15 bridges bear testimony to the creativity and painstaking work of engineers that had left no stone unturned to makes them most amazing and awesome.