Every bridge has a story, an interesting history, a romance, and a beauty of its own. There are many amazing bridges to visit all over the world. Here are our picks for those you can’t miss – iconic additions to the cities and towns where they were built.
Tower Bridge, London
Spanning the Thames from Tower hamlets on the north and Southwark to the South, this combination suspension/drawbridge has had a colorful history since its opening in 1894. The upper walking decks were known to be a favored hunt for prostitutes and pickpockets for years, and so for a time was closed to pedestrian traffic. These days the tower sees close to 40,000 people cross it daily (on foot, bicycle, and car).
Japanese Covered Bridge, Hội An, Vietnam
One of the most beautiful attractions in the small fishing town of Hội An is the Japanese Covered Bridge, which was built in the early 1600s by an uncredited architect. Hội An’s proximity to the South China Sea made it a major stop on trade routes for Japanese, Dutch, Chinese, and Indian merchants. At the time, many international traders were living in Hội An, and the bridge was seen as a symbol of peace between the Vietnamese, Chinese, and Japanese, who inhabited various neighborhoods in the town. These days, Hội An’s old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a quiet hamlet to visit while you’re in Southeast Asia.
Bixby Bridge, Big Sur
Located 120 miles south of San Francisco, Bixby Bridge is the lesser-known, but no less spectacular, cousin to the Golden Gate Bridge. Suspended nearly 300 feet above Bixby Creek and the Pacific Ocean, you can’t miss the stunning Cliffside views while you’re driving over. Visitors to Big Sur won’t soon forget the natural, rough beauty of Big Sur as seen from Bixby Bridge.
Brooklyn Bridge, New York
Connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn via the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge is an iconic emblem of New York living, immortalized in movies for decades. When originally built in 1883, there were lanes for horses and pedestrians, along with a railway that is now out of service. These days, the pedestrian walkway remains suspended over the six lanes for vehicular traffic (vestiges of the railway line can be found on the inside two lanes).
Chain Bridge, Budapest
The Széchenyi Chain Bridge connects the two sides of the city, the medieval Buda and ultra-modern Pest across the Danube. Finished in 1849, the bridge is flanked by two sculptures of lions that symbolize valor and symbolically protect the city from invaders. The bridge was almost completely destroyed during the siege of Budapest by the retreating Germans in 1945, but was rebuilt and reopened in 1949.
Charles Bridge, Prague
No “Best of” Bridges list would be complete without the pedestrian-only Charles Bridge, completed at the beginning of the 15th century. The bridge connects the Old Town to the Malá Strana (Little Quarter) across the Vltava River. The bridge’s crown jewel is the assortment of baroque statues that line the balustrade – rub the plaque on St. John Nepomuk and local lore says you’ll return to the city. During the day, the bridge becomes a carnival of buskers and vendors. To experience its majesty, get yourself to the bridge at dawn before the crowds start to gather.
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Opened in 1937, this often-photographed bridge has more than earned its presence on most must-see lists. Many experts believed that a bridge could not be built in the conditions of the strait: that strong currents, seismic unpredictability, high winds and deep waters (nearly 400 feet) would make its success an impossibility. Architect Joseph Strauss took on the project and proved everyone wrong (with a little help from his friends). Today, a team of 38 painters keep the bridge’s color, an iconic vermillion orange in tip-top shape. The color was selected for its ability to complement the natural surroundings as well as heighten visibility on the city’s foggiest days.
Ponte Vecchio, Florence
The present day Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge on our list, with its origins dating back to Roman times. Merchants and vendor stalls have lined the sides of the bridge that crosses the Arno from the very beginning, making it a natural meeting place for locals and a cultural touchstone for the city. During World War II, when German forces destroyed every other bridge in the city, the Ponte Vecchio stood strong.
Bridge of Sighs, Venice
The Rialto may be the more imposing bridge in Venice, but the limestone-carved Bridge of Sighs gives it a run for the money in a race for “most romantic.” Lovers are said to be granted eternal love if they kiss on a gondola as they pass under the bridge at sunset. However, in this city built on romance, the bridge has some rather somber history under its belt. The bridge, finished in 1600, connects the New Prison to what was the Interrogation Room in the Doge’s Palace. It’s said that prisoners on their way to jail would sigh as they passed under the bridge, because it was their last view of beautiful Venice.
Mostar Bridge, Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Mostar Bridge is a reconstruction of an Ottoman bridge built in the 1600s that connects two parts of Mostar city. The bridge stood for 427 years until it was destroyed in 1993 by Croatian forces during the Croat-Bosniak War. Stari Most was long considered a symbol of the country as well as an exemplary example of Islamic architecture. Therefore, its destruction was quite controversial and devastating to the local people. Reconstruction was supervised by a coalition of international agencies, and the bridge was reopened in 2004. An international diving competition off the bridge is mounted at the end of every July.
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