1. Banpo Bridge (South Korea): The Fountain Bridge
On September 9, 2008, the Banpo Bridge in Seoul (South Korea) got a major facelift: a 10,000-nozzle fountain that runs all the way on both sides. Immediately after being installed, the bridge turned into a major tourist attraction, as the bridge pumps out 190 tons of water per minute using the water from the river below.
2. Millau Viaduct (France): World’s Tallest Vehicular Bridge
2,460 m long, 32 m wide & 343 m high
Towering 1,125-ft above the Tarn Valley in southern France, driving along the Millau Viaduct is said to feel like flying. This Foster + Partners marvel is slightly taller than the Eiffel Tower, took three years to build and opened to the public in 2004. While it may provide picturesque views of the valley below, once the mist descends it is not a route for the faint hearted! The Millau Viaduct has a total length of 8,071-ft with the longest single span at 1,122-ft and a maximum clearance below of 886-ft; in short the bridge is massively impressive both on paper and in real life. The deck is lofted on 7 pylons and weighs 36,000 tonnes. A series of 7 masts, each 292-ft tall and weighing 700 tonnes, are attached to the corresponding pylons.
3. Henderson Waves (Singapore): Most Beautiful Pedestrian Bridge
At a height of 36 metres or 12 storeys from the road, it is the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore. The 300-metre bridge links up the parks at Mount Faber and Telok Blangah Hill.
4. Hangzhou Bay Bridge (China): World’s Longest Trans-Oceanic Bridge
Across the Hangzhou Bay extends the longest trans-oceanic bridge in the world, with 35,673 kilometres (22 mi) long with six expressway lanes in two directions. The bridge was built to address traffic congestion in the booming region, cutting the driving time between Shanghai and Ningbo from four to two-and-a-half hours.
The bridge underwent various feasibility studies for a decade before it was approved in 2003, and finally opened to the public on May 1, 2008. Total investment on the bridge was RMB 11.8 billion (around US$ 1.4 billion).
5. Rolling Bridge (UK): The Bridge that Curls Up on Itself
Designed by Heatherwick Studio, the award-winning Rolling Bridge is located Paddington Basin, London. Rather than a conventional opening bridge mechanism, consisting of a single rigid element that lifts to let boats pass, the Rolling Bridge gets out of the way by curling up until its two ends touch. While in its horizontal position, the bridge is a normal, inconspicuous steel and timber footbridge; fully open, it forms a circle on one bank of the water that bears little resemblance to its former self.
Twelve metres long, the bridge is made in eight steel and timber sections, and is made to curl by hydraulic rams set into the handrail between each section.
6. Oliveira Bridge (Brazil): World’s First X-shaped Cable Stayed Bridge with two crossed lanes
The Octavio Frias de Oliveira Bridge over the Pinheiros River in São Paulo, Brazil was opened in May 2008. It is 138 metres (450-ft) tall, and connects Marginal Pinheiros to Jornalista Roberto Marinho Avenue. Its design is unique in that the 2 curved decks of the bridge cross each other through its X-shaped supporting tower.
7. Wind and Rain Bridge (China): Dong people’s bridge
The Wind and Rain Bridge is the symbolized architecture of the Dong minority people. The wind and rain bridge in Diping is the largest of its kind in Guizhou Province, where China’s biggest Dong community lives. The bridge is over 50 meters long and it was first built in 1894 during the Qing Dynasty over 100 years ago. However, the original structure was destroyed in a big fire in 1959 and the one visitors see today was a recreation finished in 1964.
It is a pure wooden architecture made up of pillars, purlins and balusters of different sizes and shapes. The body of the bridge is divided to three tiers, the largest one in the middle take the shape of a traditional Chinese drum tower. The pilasters and eaves of the bridge are engraved with flowers and patterns and are quite magnificent.
8. Tower Bridge (UK): Most Famous and Beautiful Victorian Bridge
Completed in 1894 and designed by Horace Jones and Wolfe Barry, Tower Bridge (so named after the two, striking, 141-ft high towers and the Tower of London close to it) is one of the most famous landmarks in London and one of the most beautiful in the world. The 800-ft long bridge has a 28-ft clearance when closed but raises in the centre to a maximum clearance of 140-ft that allows ships to pass down the Thames. Back in the days when goods were moved by sea instead of air the bridge was raised around 50 times daily. Tower Bridge took 432 workers 8 years to build. During that time they sank 70,000 tonnes of concrete into 2 huge piers, lowered 2 counterbalanced bascules into place each weighing 1,000 tonnes and then clad the whole bridge in Portland stone and Cornish granite to disguise the 11,000 tonnes of steel beneath.
9. Magdeburg Water Bridge (Germany): Europe’s Largest Water Bridge
918 m long, 34 m wide & 4.25 m deep
At first glance, the Water Bridge in Magdeburg, Germany, seems nothing special; just another canal bridge. But look again and it’s a water bridge across water, forming a water intersection that is the biggest water crossing in Europe!
The world’s largest water bridge, with a span of 106 m between its pillars, opened in October 2003, on the back of five years of construction, 24,000 tons of steel, and 68,000 m³ of reinforced concrete. Regaining the construction cost of €500 million probably won’t take long as the bridge shortens travel times for ships considerably and eases traffic on other routes.
Before the opening of the water bridge, ships moving between the Midland Canal and the Elbe-Havel Canal had to make a 12-km detour through the Rothensee lock, along the River Elbe and back up Niegripp lock. Now the bridge connects Hannover and Berlin directly and also Berlin’s inland harbour network with the ports along the Rhine.
A double lock was constructed to descend to the Elbe-Havel Canal and a single Rothensee lock was constructed at the other end of the water bridge to descend to the Elbe and the Magdeburg harbour, making it independent of water levels and therefore navigable even for large ships.
10. Ponte Vecchio (Italy): Oldest and Most Famous of its kind
The Ponte Vecchio in Florence is one of the most famous tourist spots in Italy, and is thought to be the oldest wholly-stone built, segmental arch bridge in Europe, although there are many partial segments which date further back. It was originally built of wood until destroyed by floods in 1333, and twelve years later it was rebuilt using stone. Famous for its lining of shops, the bridge has housed everybody from Medieval merchants and butchers to souvenir stalls and art dealers.
11. Oresundbridge (Sweden/Denmark)
The Oresundbridge stretches from Denmark to Sweden, with the Danish islands Saltholm on the left and Peberholm on the right; on the horizon is Malmö.
The Oresundbridge (official name: Øresundsförbindelsen) connecting Copenhagen in Denmark and Malmö in Sweden leaves one puzzled, as suddenly a 4-line highway and a 2-track railway seem to disappear into the sea. Is it a bridge? Is it a tunnel? It’s both, making it, what, maybe a brunnel or a tridge? In any case, it’s definitely the longest combined road-and-rail bridge in Europe.
Plans for a bridge at this location had been in the works for the last hundred years but it was finally opened in July 2000, bringing Swedes and Danes closer together and increasing tourism. The bridge is 8 km long, plus there’s 4 km of tunnel and another 4 km of the man-made island Peberholm; altogether a stunning, 16-km-drive.
12. Erasmus Bridge, Rotterdam
The Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam is 808 m long, cost €75 million to construct and was opened in September 1996.
The Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam does not need to hide behind the Oresundbridge as it can boast a record of its own: its southern part is the largest and heaviest bascule bridge in Western Europe and has the largest panel of its type in the world, allowing tall ships to pass. The bridge is nicknamed “The Swan” because of its 139 m high asymmetrical pylon that overlooks the city like the graceful neck of a swan.
13. Jadukata Bridge, India
The Jadukata Bridge, the longest span cantilever bridge in India with a central span of 140 m, stretches so naturally from one shore to the other that it seems to grow out of the rich vegetation itself.
Leaving Europe to move further east, we come to the Indian Jadukata Bridge in Ranikor in the West Khasi Hills District of Meghalaya, 130 km from its capital, Shillong. This bridge over the Jadukata river is close to the Indo-Bangladesh border and therefore a vital link on an important road in this border state. Even cost wise, compared to the other bridges featured here, it is a lightweight at €1.5 million.
14. Sutong Bridge, China
The Sutong Bridge in China is a cable-stayed bridge with the world’s longest main span (1,088 m); its overall length is 8,206 m and the two bridge towers are the world’s second tallest at 306 m.
Moving further east, here’s the Sutong Bridge that spans the Yangtze River and connects Sutong (Suzhou) and Nantong in China. It shortens the commute from Shanghai to Nantong, making ferry service superfluous and heightening Nantong’s importance as part of the Yangtze River Delta economic zone. The opening of the bridge in May 2008 has brought foreign investments to the city and spurned the development of poorer northern Jiangsu regions. No wonder, with a status project that cost €1.3 billion.
15. Akashi Bridge, Japan
The Akashi Bridge in Japan is the world’s longest suspension bridge with a total length of 3,911 m and contains a 6-lane highway.
Moving yet further east, we reach the Akashi Bridge (also Akashi-Kaikyo or Pearl Bridge) in Kobe, Japan. With a centre span of 1,991 m, it is the world’s longest suspension bridge and links Kobe with the mainland of Honshu. Since the bridge’s opening in 1998, crossing the Akashi Strait has become much safer as the bridge has been built to withstand strong winds, sea currents and earthquakes. Before then, passengers used to rely on ferries that were prone to accidents due to severe storms in the region.
16. Sundial Bridge, Redding, California
The Sundial Bridge in Redding, California is a pedestrian bridge, 213 m long and 7 m wide; it is stretched precisely from south to north, making the bridge a functioning sundial.
Last but not least, moving yet further east around the globe, we reach a humble walking bridge in Redding, California. The stylish Sundial Bridge across the Sacramento River is a glass-bottom bridge that connects a network of walking and biking trails. The requirement before planning the bridge was that it could not cast too much shadow over the river as Turtle Bay happens to be one of the best salmon spawning places in California. Therefore, the design is light and airy. Opened in July 2004, the bridge’s construction cost €17.4 million.
17. Langkawi Sky-Bridge, Malaysia
2,000 feet above sea level; 410 feet long; curved; less than six feet wide.
One of the world’s highest single-support bridges
Where: The top of the 500-million-year-old Mount Mat Cincang, Langkawi, Malaysia.
Awe Factors: This curved half-moon-shaped pedestrian bridge, set among the clouds, grants nonacrophobic adventurers 360 degree views of the Langkawi islands and the Andaman Sea. Built for tourists and opened in 2005, the bridge is accessed by a 15-minute ride in an electronic cable car, which leaves from the Oriental Village mall complex.
18. Leonardo’s Bridge, Akershus, NorwayA scaled-down version of the design da Vinci had proposed, Sand’s bridge is 360 feet long and 19 feet above the ground. (The original was intended to be much bigger: 1,080 feet long and 120 feet above sea level.)
Designed by Leonardo da Vinci in 1502 and constructed by Vebjørn Sand in 2001
Where: This pedestrian and bike arch bridge is in Akershus, Norway, but da Vinci had planned for the bridge (to be named the Golden Horn Bridge) to span the waterway dividing western Constantinople for Sultan Bajazet II.
Awe Factors: The bridge is considered by da Vinci scholars to be the first civil engineering project in history based on a da Vinci design, but if it weren’t for Norwegian artist Vebjørn Sand’s keen eye, the small drawing in the corner of one of da Vinci’s notebooks might have remained just an idea. Instead, Sand proposed to the Norwegian Public Roads Administration that it help “reimagine” this mathematically and structurally gorgeous design. Today, the smaller-scale timber structure (da Vinci had wanted stone) near Oslo is, Sand hopes, the first of many Leonardo bridges around the world. Already the artist has created two versions of the design, crafted out of ice—one in Antarctica and the other at the United Nations in Manhattan. Sand and his team are working on creating similar bridges in Odessa, Texas; Karuizawa, Japan; and Istanbul, Turkey, where it was originally intended to be built.
19. The Bosphorus Bridge, Turkey
4,954 feet long; 210 feet above sea level.
A suspension bridge linking two continents
Where: Istanbul, Turkey, spanning the Bosphorus Strait.
Awe Factors: Completed in 1973, this suspension bridge, the only bridge in the world linking two continents (Europe and Asia), has been in the works since 490 B.C., when the bridge was made of a fleet of boats. Talks of a suspension bridge began in 1900, and again in 1931 by Nuri Demirag, the architect who manufactured the first plane in Turkey; it was finally commissioned in 1967 and completed six years later. A tennis match played on the bridge in May 2005 between Venus Williams and Turkish grand slammer Ïpek Senoglu was the first-ever competition to take place between two continents.
20. Gateshead Millennium Bridge, England
413 feet wide; 164 tall when open.
The world’s first bridge to use a tilting mechanism to open, forming a gateway for ships to pass
Where: On the South Bank of England’s River Tyne, between Gateshead and Newcastle.
Awe Factors: Powered by eight electric motors with more horsepower than a Lamborghini Diablo, this curved pedestrian and bike bridge turns on pivots and rises 164 feet above the water when ships need to pass. It’s become such a sensation, though, that the bridge—whose motion is likened to the opening and closing of a gigantic eye—puts on a show at least once a day at noon. Completed in 2001 after a design contest was held to add to the impressive lineup of artistic arches on the Tyne, the finalized bridge was carried down the river by one of the largest floating cranes (a 10,560-ton barge taller than the Big Ben) in Europe. The bridge has its own litter clean-up system: each time the bridge opens, garbage rolls into special traps, so that the garbage does not fall into the river.
21. Royal Gorge Bridge, Colorado
1,053 feet over the gorge; 1,260 feet long.
The world’s highest suspension bridge
Where: Royal Gorge, Colorado, over the Arkansas River.
Awe Factors: Built in 1929 in six months by mainly inexperienced men, this bridge was an impressive feat of construction for its time. Wires were connected at the bottom of the gorge and pulled up the granite canyon despite gusty winds. In 1982, the bridge underwent a refurbishment, and wind cables were added. If looking straight down 1,000 feet isn’t scary enough, “the bridge rolls like waves,” said Peggy Gair, public relations manager for the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. “It bends and sways a little—and it should. The flexibility is its strength.”
22. Ponte dei Sospiri (the Bridge of Sighs) – Venice
Built in the early 1600s in the Baroque style, the bridge connects the Doge’s Palace to what was once a prison.
The most dramatic bridge in the world
Where: Rio di Palazzo, Venice, steps from Piazza San Marco.
Awe Factors: According to legend, those who crossed this 17th-century white limestone bridge had a dramatic passage because they would cross it only once. Built between a prison and the room of the inquisitors inside the Doge’s Palace, the bridge’s stone-barred windows were said to provide the last view the criminals would ever see. But in reality, the prison was for petty criminals and no executions awaited them. The name “Bridge of Sighs” came from a Lord Byron poem. Today, the bridge is the setting for another legend inspired by the poet: if a couple kisses underneath the bridge at sunset, they will be granted eternal love.
23. Khaju Bridge, Iran
344 feet long; 45 feet wide; 23 arches.
One of the world’s great “multifunctional” bridges
Where: Isfahan, Iran, on the Zayandeh River.
Awe Factors: Besides its stunning stone foundation, brightly colored tile work on its exterior, and original 17th-century paintings on its interior, this bridge is noteworthy because it serves three functions—as a passageway, a weir, and a recreation place. The bilevel structure, originally built as a dam in 1650, houses a covered indoor area upstairs where people gather to drink tea and socialize in the cool shade. And the echoing acoustics inside make it a popular spot for local singers and folk musicians, who gather there to perform on Friday nights.
24. Alamillo Bridge, Spain
820 feet long; 465 feet high.
One of the most elegant bridges in the world
Where: Seville, Spain, crossing the Guadalquivir River.
Awe Factors: Built in 1992 by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and said to resemble a harp, the bridge is the first design of its kind: its central mast leans at a 58 degree angle, making it appear as if it’s balancing. Calatrava is fast becoming one of the major innovators in bridge design (other works include the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Tenerife Opera House), renowned for his elegant, clean style and skeletal, almost “unfinished” designs.
25. Helix Bridge, Singapore – An architectural marvel
Linking Marina Bay to Marina Centre, the Helix Bridge, is set to become Singapore’s next landmark. Located beside the Benjamin Sheares Bridge, alongside the vehicular Bayfront Bridge, it was officially opened on 24 April 2010 and is the world’s first curved bridge.
This 280-metre pedestrian linkway – the longest in Singapore – features a world’s first ‘double-helix’ structure, designed by an international design consortium, comprising of Australian architects Cox Group and engineers Arup, together with Singapore-based Architects 61. Inspired by the yin and yang concept in Asian culture, the architecturally unique bridge is said to bring wealth, happiness and prosperity to Marina Bay.
The Helix Bridge is an engineering feat assembled with great precision. Its curved design is created by two opposing spiral steel members, held together by a series of connecting struts, symbolising “life and continuity”, “renewal”, “everlasting abundance” and “growth”, and resembles the structure of DNA.
One of the connecting bridges will link the three waterfront gardens at Marina South, Marina East and Marina Centre, to form a continuous public waterfront loop, while also linking the Double Helix Bridge to the Marina Bay Sands, the Singapore Flyer and Gardens by the Bay.
You can catch a panoramic view of the Singapore skyline and watch events taking place at the Bay from one of its five viewing platforms sited at strategic locations. Fritted-glass and steel glass canopies providing shade and seats are also available at resting points. View paintings and drawings by youths along this crossing, or enhance your bridge crossing experience at night with lights that illuminate the steel structure to create different moods. For a memorable experience, be sure to visit this engineering marvel situated in the heart of the city.