Looking at the past, the first bridges were most likely made by nature as simple as a log fallen across a stream. Periodically humans build the bridges from spans of wooden logs or planks and eventually stones, using a simple support and crossbeam arrangement. However, most of these early bridges are not quite safety as they could not support heavy weights or withstand strong currents. It was these inadequacies which led to the development of better bridges with style. They are as much a work of art as they are marvels of engineering. To appreciate the wonders of classic bridges, here are some picks for the Top 10 Most Beautiful Bridges in the World:
10. Khaju Brigde of Isfahan Iran
The Khaju Bridge or Pol-e-Khajoo in Isfahan, Iran, was built in the 17th century by Shah Abbas II in the great Islam era destiny. Besides having beautiful golden look during the night, the bridge also serves as a dam, with sluice gates under the archways. At the center of the bridge, there are two large pavilions, called the Prince Parlors, that were originally reserved for the Shah.
9. Pont Du Gard of France
Pont du Gard, an aqueduct spanning the Gard River in southern France, is a masterpiece of Roman engineering. It wasn’t built initially to transport people, instead it was part of a complex aqueduct system that carried water over 30 miles (about 50 km) to the ancient Roman city of Nemausus (now Nimes). The Pont du Gard was built by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa (63 – 12 BC), the son-in-law of Caesar Augustus. The bridge’s stones, some of which weight up to 6 tons, were cut perfectly to fit together without any mortar. The wedge-shaped stones, known as voussoirs, were arranged in three levels, the top-most being the water conduit.
8. Sighs Bridge of Venice Italy
In the 19th century, Lord Byron named a Venetian limestone bridge across the Rio di Palazzo connecting the Doge’s prison to the interrogation room in the main palace, the Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri). Initially, the bridge was built in 1600 by Antonio Contino, after the days of the inquisitions and summary executions. Legend has it that if lovers kissed on a gondola underneath the Bridge of Sighs at sunset, their love would last for eternity. Really? Huh.
7. Iron Bridge of Shropshire England
The Iron Bridge, spanning the Severn river in Shropshire, England, isn’t a particularly large or ornate bridge, but it does have something that made it unique: it’s the first bridge made completely out of cast iron and the bridge reflection scenery is just so magnificent.
6. Covered “Kissing Bridge” of Ontario, Canada
Above is the photo of The West Montrose Covered Bridge or locally known as Kissing Bridge on the Grand River, Ontario, Canada. In the 19th century, timber was plentiful and cheap. So it’s natural that this bridge was made of wood. But why was it covered? Well, lovers aside, the real reason was much more practical: the wooden beams of the bridge lasted longer when protected from the elements. =D
5. Ponte Vecchio of Florence Italy
The Ponte Vecchio is a medieval bridge over the Arno River. Actually, it’s much more than a bridge – it’s a street, a marketplace, and a landmark of Florence, Italy. The Ponte Vecchio that we know today was built in 1345 by Taddeo Gaddi after an older span was destroyed in a flood. In 1565, Duke Cosimo I de Medici ordered an architect named Giorgio Vasari to construct a roofed passageway. Centuries of haphazard additions gave the bridge’s distinctive, irregular appearance today. Isn’t it beautiful?
4. The Wind and Rain Bridge of Chengyang China
The wind and rain bridges were a type of bridge built by the Dong people in China. Because they live in the lowlands and the valleys with many rivers, the Dong people are excellent bridge builders. They are called “wind and rain” bridges because the covered bridges not only let people cross the river, but also protect them from the elements.
3. Brooklyn Bridge of New York USA
In 1855, engineer John Roebling started to design a bridge that at the time would be the longest suspension bridge in the world, with towers being the tallest structures in the Western Hemisphere: the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. Today, the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the main crossings of the East River and one of the most heavily trafficked bridges in the world. But in the late 19th century, it took Roebling more than 14 years to convince the city to build the bridge. One interesting note about the Brooklyn Bridge: it stood fast while other bridges built around the same time had crumbled. Engineers credit Roebling for designing a bridge and truss system six times as strong as he thought it needed to be!
2. Tower Bridge of London England
Construction of the Tower Bridge started in 1886, led by architect Sir Horace Jones and engineer Sir John Wolfe Barry. The design was a bascule (draw) bridge with two towers built on piers, so the bridge wouldn’t interefere with the port facilities nearby. A year after construction was started, Jones died and his replacement, George D. Stevenson along with Barry decided to modify the design a little bit. Instead of the original brick facade design, the Tower Bridge had a more ornate Victorian Gothic style meant to harmonize it with the nearby Tower of London. I’d been there and it is really awesome bridge.
1. Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco USA
The Golden Gate Bridge is such an iconic symbol of San Francisco that it’s hard to imagine a time when it didn’t exist. In 1916, the idea of a bridge to cross the Golden Gate, a narrow strait that separated San Francisco Peninsula and the Marin Headlands, was conceived. Though it was almost immediately dismissed as the cost was estimated to be $100 million, a veteran bridge builder named Joseph Strauss lobbied for more than two decades to have it built. The color of the Golden Gate Bridge is actually not red – it’s an orange vermillion called International Orange. The color was chosen specifically because it complements the bridge’s natural surrounding yet enhances its visibility in the fog. Construction took more than four years, at a cost of $27 million. The Golden Gate Bridge actually came in $1.3 million under budget. For his work, Strauss got $1 million … and a lifetime bridge pass!