Link - article by Avi Abrams

Our life is but a bridge, interrupted

This deeply philosophical statement out of the way, allow me to introduce you to the most fascinating and soaring examples in bridge architecture - the structures that can be considered a destination in themselves, not just a means to get from point A to point B. (Read the first part here)

(image credit: H. P. Kolb)

1. Historic "La Pont Du Gard" Bridge

The name literally means "Bridge across the river", which only serves to prove that this is THE bridge among all bridges. Built sometime around 20 B.C. by the Roman Empire in the South of France, this is one of the most ancient, and possibly the most beautiful of all Roman-built aqueducts. Pont du Gard crosses the Gardon Valley and reaches 49 meters in height, measuring 280 meters in length.

Every huge block of stone (some of which weigh up to 6 tones) was carved to perfectly fit in its place, making this grandiose structure a marvel of masonry & engineering. A number of writers celebrated this bridge in their works, including Jean-Jacques Rousseau in "Confessions". Numerous inscriptions, some ancient Roman in origin, cover the stones, making the whole site a historian's and photographer's paradise.

(images credit: candi)

From the most ancient, to the most futuristic -

2. Soaring Bridges of Santiago Calatrava

Santiago Calatrava is one the most sought-after bridge architects today. His works are dynamic, reflecting our modern age. They also possess the uplifting harmony of sweeping curves and intricate shapes. His Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay is an interestingly shaped, somewhat futuristic bridge (which doubles as a sun-dial). It was recently built near Redding, California.

(images credit: turtlebay.org)

Alamillo Bridge in Seville, Spain, photo by Andrew Dunn

Calatrava also applied his soaring, spread-wings style to the footbridge at Milwaukee Art Museum:

(images credit: Jim Brozek)

Although nothing really comes close to the City of Arts and Sciences that he designed for Valencia, Spain - the culmination of his highly elegant style.
Salvador del Saz has an awesome set of photographs of the building and the bridge leading to it:

(images credit: Salvador del Saz)

3. Double Spiral Bridge in Japan

The Kawazu-Nanadaru Loop Bridge consists of two spirals, each 1.1 km long, 80-meter in diameter - the only way for traffic to get down the mountainside into the valley, too steep for any other usual road-building solutions.

The busy Route 414 serves the weekend crowd from Tokyo, intent to wind down at the hot springs resort of the Izu Peninsula. The "winding down" bit obviously starts at this bridge. Built in 1981, the double-spiral structure demands careful driving - the speed limit on the bridge is only 30 km/h, which also helps to better enjoy the views.

(image credit: whatjamiefound)

(image credit: Toshiaki Iwahori)

(image credit: Altus)

4. Nanpu Bridge with a spiral approach

Similar spiral skyway graces the approach to the Nanpu Bridge over the Huangpu River, located at the South Dock in Shanghai, China. Drivers are allowed to go only clockwise... no, just kidding.

(originals unknown)

The longest bridge in the world is officially Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana, which is essentially just a stretch of highway. The following structure is a bit more interesting:

5. The Longest Bridge-Tunnel Combination: Oresund Bridge

This longest combined road and rail bridge in Europe connects Denmark and Sweden across the Oresund strait. The artificial island itself is 4 km long. Shortly after being built, there were fears that not enough people are going to use it, but as it turned out, Danes were buying less expensive houses in Sweden and commuting to work in Denmark, and the construction costs of close to 30.1 billion are expected to be paid off in 2035.

Also a bridge-tunnel combo, but smaller, is Merrimack/Monitor Memorial Bridge-Tunnel on Hampton-Chesapeake Interstate 664:

(image credit: roadstothefuture)

6. The Bosphorus Bridge - connecting 2 continents

This grand-looking bridge spans the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, Turkey. Interestingly, it also has a twin: a similar bridge located just down the Strait.

(original unknown)

7. The Hanging Bridge of Bilbao, Spain

Built in 19th century, in a year of 1893, it introduced truly revolutionary combination of 150-meter long steel bridge and a hanging gondola, moving across the river. Similar structures were built after its example, but only a few remain in existence today in the world. The 43-meter towers present an imposing view over the city:

Another interesting bridge concept: a footbridge with counter-balancing weights:

(image credit: Kiel Bryant)

The "bridge-to-nowhere" illusion, seen in Norway:

(image via)

A few other interesting (and beautiful) bridges:

Stonebridge in Regensburg, Germany:

(image credit: Luca Ivaldi)

Freedom Bridge, Budapest, Hungary:

JK bridge across Paranoa Lake, in Brazil:

Newport Pell Bridge, Newport, Rhode Island:

(original unknown)

Conwy Suspension Bridge in the medieval town of Conwy, North Wales:

The Tsing Ma Bridge, Hong Kong:

Strange bridge in Victoria, Canada: Johnson Street Bridge.

(image via)

Spiral bridge-link between two buildings, over Floral Street in London:

And our traditional mystery bridge:

UPDATE: Colsh says: "The mystery bridge is the Skye bridge connecting the Isle of Skye to mainland Scotland. I believe at one time the most expensive toll bridge in the world (per kilometer)."

Futuristic Arctic Bridge

Underwater tubular super-structure, imagined in Russia way back in the 50s and described by Alexander Kazantzev in his sf novel.

Harrowing Hanging Bridges

For the most amount of thrills you can get for free in this world, try to drive across some of the following structures, if not on your car, then on your bike. This is what many locals often have to do, in absence of any other ways to get across.

Historic Hagwilget Bridge in British Columbia, Canada

The first foot bridge looked positively frightening:

(photo courtesy BC Archives Collection)

The second bridge across the river had quite an interesting engineering approach:
(image from 1916 book "Bridge Engineering" by H.G. Tyrrell)

(image credit: Eric Sakowski)

The second and third bridges are visible in this photo. It is also possible that both were true road bridges - imagine driving your car across that!

(photo courtesy BC Archives Collection)

Vjose River Bridge Experience

Some of the hanging bridges can be quite daunting not only to set your feet on, but even to look at. Roberto Ferri sent us these pictures, taken in Southern Albania, ten miles north from the Greek border. Both bridges shown here require a bit of work and a prayer to get across:

(images credit: Roberto Ferri)

Crossing the Hussaini Bridge in Pakistan. The mountains in the background are called the Passu Cathedral:

(Photo by Herbert Wong)

Finally, feast your eyes (and nerves) on -
The Worst Bridge in the World

Other sources: 1, 2, 3, 4


(Golden Gate bridge, Stary Most, Millennium Bridge, and a lot more!)


The whole BRIDGES series: Part 1, Part 2, Part3

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: "Strange Bridge in Victoria British Columbia" (Canada);

It's actually two counter weighted bridges, not one. The wider of the two carries car and truck traffic across the narrow spot in the harbor, the narrower is for the passenger train.

Once the train passes under the counterweight, it's about another 20 feet to the tiny passenger station and the end of track. There's just enough area to park the self powered rail cars which serve the Vancouver Island.

Blogger LifeTrek said...

The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is in Louisiana not Florida.

Try the Royal Gorge bridge. Walked across it as a kid and it scared the crap out of me. The deck is 1053 feet above the Arkansas River. The Royal Gorge Bridge is still the highest suspension bridge in the world, as well as the bridge with the highest deck-to-surface clearance.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

beautifull and strange bridges, but i'm missing some: the french 'le pont du normandie' and the 'milau viaduct'. The first one is just beautifull, the second one amazing, and shouldn't be missing here i think



(and no, not french myself, but have driven over them and they are astonishing)

keep up the good work!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Photo number two of the Oresund bridge isn't.
I have no idea what it is.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The mystery bridge is the Skye bridge connecting the Isle of Skye to mainland Scotland. I believe at one time the most expensive toll bridge in the world (per kilometer).

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lake Ponchatrain and the causeway are both in Louisiana, not Florida.

Blogger johnald said...

The Mighty 'Humber Bridge', Hull, England :


Anonymous Anonymous said...


i am so glad you decided to add a large calatrava section this time around. after the first batch of bridges, i was at a loss seeing you didn't include any of his.


Blogger Noodles said...

I believe that photo number 2 of the Oresund bridge is actually the Merrimack/Monitor Memorial Bridge-Tunnel. Google Image it and you get the same picture.

At least Oresund isn't such a mouthful...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is longer than the Oresund

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bridge in Victoria is called the Johnson Street Bridge.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mystery Bridge is the Skye Bridge in Scotland connecting the Isle of Skye to the Scottish mainland.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

ive been on that bridge in Albania, me and a few cows :)

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Neat info, thank you

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great stuff, as usual.

There are spiral bridges in the foothills of the Black Hills in western South Dakota. They're only two lanes, and the roadway spirals out over the side of the mountain to gain altitude. Locally they call them 'pigtails'. I believe at one time there was also a bridge over the Mississippi River in Minnesota that had a spiral at one side, due to a lack of space for a straight ramp down from the bridge proper.

Steve Z

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very cool places. I have a few more to add to the list.

First, the Confederation Bridge linking the provinces of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island on the East Coast of Canada.

Here's a pic http://www.confederationbridge.com/images/photo_gallery/bridgepe2.jpg

The other is a very unique "bridge" designed to move a boat from one level to another.


Blogger Kanteker said...

I've ridden in a car, and driven on the Kawazu-Nanadaru Loop Bridge located in Japan. It is located on the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture. I used to live not far north of that bridge.

It was truly an amazing sight to be riding along on the bridge and then look down into the valley that you are traveling through. I don't know exactly how far above the ground the bridge is, but it's not for those who fear heights.

My wife and I even traveled into the valley below the Kawazu-Nanadaru Loop Bridge as some of the hotels in that area have wonderful onsen, or hot springs.

Thanks for the post. It was wonderfully done, as always

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im really missing the two bridges in curacao! The "pontjes brug" and the other one. Those are really nice to see aswell!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

does what is the name of the bridge to nowhere in norway? i really want to learn more about that bridge.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been over the Newport Pell Bridge many times. I love it, it is an adrenilan rush because of the step angle that it climbs. I live in Connecticut but own a place in Narragansette Rhode Island so I frequent Newport several times a year. Heading to Newport you also have to cross the Jamestown bridge which is almost identical. Jamestown is a small island in Narrgansette bay. A very unique drive on extremly banked bridges with in a few miles of each other.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bridge at the aguille du midi at the Mt Blanc mountain is also pretty scary. http://www.dellyend.com/gallery/images/IMG_1086.jpg

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is another scary bridge, though I'd prefer to walk across over driving.


Blogger Unknown said...

Comment on the Russian SF submersed tunnel:


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The second pic of Soaring Bridges of Santiago Calatrava is Alamillo's Bridge by Santiago Calatrava. It was built in Seville (Spain) for the Expo'92. At least is almost a copy:


Blogger B. Durbin said...

I got to the Turtle Bay photos, thought, "*I* have photos of... oh, wait."

Now I can't even remember when I pointed those out. But thanks for the grin!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best roman bridge in France? Sorry, but it is in Alcantara, Spain. It is 194 m (636 feet) long and 71 m (233 feet) tall, and it is still Alcantara's main, and only, road.

See it here or here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm surprised neither part has either the
Millau Viaduct or
Forth (Rail) Bridge.
The former is stunning, and the latter is utterly and unashamedly 100% bridge. Despite the uncompromising design it manages to pull off having both a demanding presence and yet somehow fitting in. A quick look online didn't come up with any particularly good photo's however.

The old london bridge is worthy of note also.

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

We got Millau Viaduct covered here... thanks for all the suggestions!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A company I used to help run built the 'spiral' bridge you mention in London. It's in Covent Garden and it joins the main Royal Opera House to some of its rehearsal rooms.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Thanks. A pleasure to see gorgeous pix of interesting bridges.
2. Re: Strange bridge in Victoria, Canada: Johnson Street Bridge.
This is a pair of bascule bridges, a common type of operable bridge. Because it is delicately balanced only a small motor is needed to raise the bridge. Chicago has more operable bridges than any other city; most are bascules. Recently they figured out to hide the counterweight under the bridge approach so it is not visible.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

n interesting bridge, that completely blows Biboa so called "hanging bridge". Look no further than the Newport Transporter Bridge:

It's the longest type of its kind in the world today and still functions. It's absolutely HUGE.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can find some fine pics of Forth Rail Bridge here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/forthbridges/

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Roman Alcántara Bridge is a gorgeous one. It´s over the Tagus River, wich ends at Lisbon, Portugal. The portuguese capital has 3 interesting structures. First, a Golden Gate type bridge (builted by the same engeneering team, in 1966). It´s over 2100m long; Second, a very photogenic one, the Vasco da Gama bridge (just over 17km long) - Take a look in
And last, but not least, the Águas Livres Aqueduct, wich has the biggest stone pointed arch in the world (29mX65m). It survived from the big earthquake in 1755 (plus 8.0 Richter). See it here http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aqueduto_das_Águas_Livres

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 2nd main city of Portugal, Porto, also has it bridges. Nowdays, the total number is 6 but once it had only 3. Each one of them broke an world record when inaugurated. Arrábida Bridge (1963 by Edgar Cardoso): biggest concret arch; D.Maria Pia (1877 by Gustavo Eiffel) and D.Luís I (1886 by Teófilo Seyrig): biggest iron arch. All of them can be found in wikipedia.
The 4th one (S. João Bridge, 1991), broke an world record too: The biggest (heaviest) concret monolitic in just one piece.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

But the one I´m looking for is located in Germany. I do not know its name or the exact location. It's a fantastic brick rail bridge that I saw on a regional german TV channel (mdr or WDR, i'm not sure. Perhaps de Fehrsen channel). It's a big one (as a matter of fact is a viaduct over a green valey) and I almost can swear it supports high speed trains (the ICEs). Please, post it, on a part 3!... It´s gorgeous, believe me.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where's Tower Bridge in London???

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marq isnt your real name Christina Aguilera?...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ponte Estaiada Octavio Frias de Oliveira is missing. It´s a beutiful one recently built located in Sao Paulo, Brazil.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice bridge Collection. Aprreciate the rickety old ones. Just wanted to add the bridge titled Tsing Ma (that's the one back) has two brgs and the one in front is called the Kap Shui Mun and is the longest in the world to carry rail also.

Blogger Unknown said...

I think you dismiss the Lake Ponchartrain Causeway a little too easily as an extension of a highway. Take into account that depending upon traffic, it is a half an hour across the lake and at one point you see no land in ANY direction.

I've been stuck in the middle of it at rush hour and it's unnerving to be in my car, over water waiting to move again.

Blogger Addison Cox said...

How about the 35W bridge going into Minneapolis that was built recently to replace the old one that fell into the river in 2007. The new one actually cleans the air when the sun hits it :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fascinating page!

I just found this using google, but here are TONS more photos, and even two videos of the Hussaini bridge, and Passu


- SHW -

Anonymous Anonymous said...

At the time of constuction, the manmade islands for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel were the most expensive pieces of realestate in the world.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What? No Charles Bridge in Prague?
Check out my friend Gary's bridge in Afghanistan:


Go to image gallery > 6

Blogger W Saindon Henley said...

The "Bilbao" bridge is actually in Portugalete, a town adjacent to Bilbao.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re Strange Bridge in Victoria BC: this bridge commonly known as the Johnson St. Bridge is a Strauss Bascule Trunion Bridge. A similar one exists in Kingston ON. They were both designed by Joseph Strauss, who also had a hand in engineering the Golden Gate Bridge.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The skye bridge not only connects the Isle of Skye to mainland Scotland, but also the small island it sits on, Eilean Ban, which was the last home of the Author, Gavin Maxwell, who wrote, "Ring of bright water". His house is clearly visible in the photograph.


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