“We build too many walls and not enough bridges.” — Issac Newton
These 20 bridges are not merely beautiful, but structural engineering marvels.
1. The Khaju Bridge in Isfahan, Iran
This beautiful structure is more than just a bridge. It was built in the 17th century and serves as dam as well as houses two stories of arcades. There are two large pavilions in the center of the bridge know as “Prince Parlors.” There were originally reserved for the Shah. How do I get an invite?
2. The Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Italy
This bridge was named by Lord Byron in the 19th century as “Ponte dei Sospiri” (Bridge of Sighs) because the limestone bridge connected the Doge’s prison to the interrogation room in the main palace. Supposedly prisoners would sigh when they looked out the windows to see their last view of beautiful Venice before their judgement. Legend has it that if lovers kiss on a gondola underneath the Bridge of Sighs at sunset, their love will last for eternity. Sounds kind of cheesy to me. Oh, and super depressing.
3. The Iron Bridge in Shropshire, England
Now this may seem out of place given the beauty of the other bridges on this list, but this one is a true engineering feat. It’s the first bridge ever made out of cast iron. The closest I’ve ever come to that was 8th grade jewelry making.
4. The Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy
This medieval bridge is much more than just a bridge — it’s a street, a marketplace, and a renowned landmark of Florence. To finance the bridge (after its predecessor was destroyed by flood), lots along the roadway were rented out to merchants and continues to be a shopping strip to this day.
5. The Chengyang Bridge in China
This bridge (among others of similar type) is also named the Wind and Rain Bridge because these types of covered bridges not only let people cross the river, but also protects people from the elements. They were built by the Dong people, who are known as excellent bridge builders, that live in the lowlands and river filled valleys of China.
6. The Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, New York
In 1855 this giant metal beauty was designed to be the longest suspension bridge in the world, with towers being the tallest structures in the Western Hemisphere. Kudos John Roebling, kudos.
7. The Tower Bridge in London, England
This amazing bridge has this ornate Victorian Gothic style facade to harmonize with the nearby Tower of London. This hauntingly beautiful bridge is surprisingly less haunted than the tower, which is said to inhabit many of the most royal of ghosts.
8. The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California
The Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic symbol of San Francisco. This iron, red beauty of a suspension bridge is known worldwide, though before it was built, most thought it was an impossible task.
9. The Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic
Emperor Charles IV built this beauty in 1357 to connect Old Town and New Town in his vision for a more majestic Prague. This bridge over the Vltava River features beautiful statues of saints and amazing views of the city. It’s a truly unbelievable sight. I’ve been a few times and each time I am reminded just how truly beautiful (and super old) it is.
10. The Banpo Bridge in Seoul, South Korea
Seoul’s Banpo Bridge isn’t your run of the mill bridge. It has almost 10,000 LED-lit nozzles along its span that shoot sprays of colored water. If this rainbow fountain isn’t the definition of a water rave, I don’t know what is.
11. Puente Nuevo, Ronda Spain
This bridge that seems straight out of The Lord of the Rings was finally completed in 1751. The mountain marvel too over 42 years to build and sadly claimed the lives of 50 workers in the process of construction. If I wasn’t scared of heights, I certainly am now.
12. Vasco de Gama in Lisbon, Portugal
While beautiful, this bridge also has a beautiful backstory. The Portuguese bridge was opened to traffic in 1998, on the 500th anniversary of the explorer de Gama’s discovery of the sea route from Europe to India. That’s one long history for one long bridge.
13. Konitsa Bridge in Ipeirus, Greece
This unassuming Greek bridge was built by Ziogas Frontzos from the village of Pyrsogianni. He attributed his ability to create such a masterful feat to his education, surpassing other architects who had previously unsuccessfully attempted to build the bridge.
14. Fehmarn Sound Bridge in Fehmarn, Germany
This bridge does more than just connect the island of Fehmarn to the German mainland. This beauty is almost a kilometer long over the Baltic Sea. It was constructed during the Cold War and has explosive vaults embedded into its structure in case it needed to be blown up in case of invasion. Bridge goes boom!
15. the Stari Most Bridge in Mostar, Bosnia
This bridge was originally built in the 16th century to connect the two separate shores of the city of Mostar. It was destroyed in 1993 during the Croat-Boasnian war, but it was painstakingly rebuilt and reopened in 2004. This beautiful resurrection spans the River Neretva once more.
16. The Tsing Ma Bridge in Hong Kong, China
This goliath of a bridge spans almost 1400 meters, making it the longest rail-traffic suspension bridge in the world. The designers of this beauty can give themselves an extra pat on the back for preparedness, the bridge has two enclosed road and rail lines that can be used to quickly evacuate the area in case of severe typhoons. Phew!
17. The Millau Viaduct in Millau, France
This guy spans the valley of the River Tarn in southern France. It takes the cake at being the tallest bridge in the world (one of its mast’s caps off at 343 meters high.) It’s so widely regarded as one of the greatest engineering feats of all time that it received the 2006 International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering Outstanding Structure Award. And yes, that award does exist.
18. The Puente de la Mujer in Buenos Aires, Argentina
This crazy contraption is a rotating footbridge in the commercial district of Buenos Aires. It was a pretty unusual asymmetrical arrangement. The whole thing can rotate 90 degrees in order to allow water traffic to pass. Now that’s a double duty bridge!
19. The Rialto Bridge in Venice, Italy
This beauty is one of the four bridges that span the Grand Canal in Venice. It is the oldest among the four and was the dividing line for the districts of San Marco and San Polo. It was designed and completed by Antonio da Ponte in 1591 and to this day is surrounded by little shops. When it was built, Vincenzo Scamozzi thought it was ridiculously audacious and that it would quickly ruin. Sucks to be wrong Scamozzi.
20. The Bridge of Nine Turnings in Shanghai, China
The Yu Gardens is a must-see for tourists in Shanghai. This beautiful, angled bridge brings you through the garden with lots of tea houses and restaurants along the way. It’s known for its incredible views and its many koi fish and koi fish are awesome.