Bridges serve a primary purpose of making transportation quicker and easier, but that isn’t a reason for their architects to compromise on aesthetics. Featuring 12 architectural masterpieces, from historical bridges built more than 2000 years ago to ultra-modern designs, here are the 12 most beautiful bridges in the world.
Bastei Bridge, Saxon Switzerland National Park, Germany
Standing 194 meters above the Elbe River in Germany’s Saxon Switzerland National Park, Bastei Bridge is part of a rock formation formed by water erosion over one million years ago. The jagged, towering rocks have attracted tourists for over 200 years, and they were first linked to each other by a wooden bridge built in 1824. The original was replaced in 1851 by a new bridge made of sandstone, which is the one that is still standing today. The Bastei rocks are part of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, located within the national park, and they became the first nature reserve in the area in 1938.
Helix Bridge is a pedestrian bridge connecting Marina Centre with Marina South in Singapore‘s Marina Bay area. Made of glass and steel mesh, it has gained much attention since it opened in 2010 as the world’s first curved bridge. The modern award-winning spiral design is actually inspired by the structure of DNA – which gives the bridge an additional handful of cool points. The bridge has four viewing platforms for views of the city’s skyline, and at night the spirals light up to illuminate the area and provide a special experience.
With its breathtaking views, the Capilano Suspension Bridge is one of the Vancouver‘s most popular tourist sites and attracts almost a million visitors each year. It was originally built in 1889 out of hemp rope and cedar planks, but it was later replaced with a wire cable bridge in 1903. Stretching 70 meters above the Capitano River, the current bridge is 140 meters long and has an entire park built around it. The park’s attractions include Treetops Adventures, rain forest ecotours, gardens, nature trails, and and exhibits highlighting the park’s history.
Made up of five wooden arches on stone piers over the Nishiki River, Kintai Bridge was first built in 1673 and made a National Treasure in 1922. It’s located at the foot of Mount Yokoyama in the historical city of Iwakuni, Japan – known for the Iwakuni Castle located at the top of the mountain. Both the bridge and castle are popular tourist attractions and part of Kikkou Park, which is home to a sanctuary for white snakes and visited particularly during the annual cherry blossom festival in the spring.
Puente de la Mujer Bridge, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Puente de la Mujer is a pedestrian bridge on the Río de la Plata riverbank in the Puerto Madero district of Buenos Aires. It spans 170 meters long and is divided into two fixed portions, with a rotating section in the middle that allows vessels to pass. The bridge, designed by award-winning Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava to look like two people dancing the tango, was opened in 2001. The poetic name Puente de la Mujer translates to ‘Bridge of the Woman’, and was inspired by the fact that a number of streets in the Puerto Madero district are named after women.
The Pont du Gard bridge was constructed more than 2000 years ago by the ancient Romans as part of an aqueduct, or a watercourse, to transport water from the small French town of Uzès to Nîmes – a large Roman colony of the time with an estimated population of 60,000. The bridge is located on a canyon over the Gardon River and draws over a million visitors yearly. It’s known as one of the best-preserved Roman ruins in Europe, and it was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 because of its great historical significance.
Located in the city of Malaysian city of Putrajaya, about 25 kilometers south of Kuala Lumpur, the futuristic Seri Wawasan Bridge features a pedestrian walkway, bicycle lane, and a motorway. It was completed in 2003 and crosses the Putrajaya Lake, with a length of 240 meters. The bridge is a popular place for photography due to its spectacular architectural beauty and clever design that resembles a sailboat. It is a cable-stayed bridge, and it connects the city’s Precinct 2 on the Core Island to the residential area of Precinct 8.
The unique Henderson Waves Bridge is part of the Southern Ridges Walk, which is a five kilometer hiking trail located in the mountains of Southern Singapore. The bridge was built in 2008 to offer visitors a walkway and bicycle track from Telok Blangah Hill Park to Mount Faber Park along the trail. At 36 meters above Henderson Road, it is the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore, and it is noted for its wave-like design as well as the magnificent views it offers. It curves and twists along its entire 274-meter length and features sheltered rest points, where visitors can take a break and observe their surroundings.
Spanning a 20-meter deep canyon above the Guadalevín River, the Puento Nuevo Bridge is an iconic bridge in the unique mountainous city of Ronda, Spain. The bridge took a grand total of 42 years to build, finally completed in 1751. There’s a total of three bridges stretching across the canyon, and the Puento Nuevo is the newest and largest of them – and it’s also the most visited. It’s known around the world because of the chamber located above the central arch, which was used as a prison and as a torture chamber during the 1936-1939 civil war. Today it contains a fascinating exhibition of the bridge’s history and construction.
Located in Florence, The Ponte Vecchio translates to ‘Old Bridge’. It’s a Medieval stone bridge over the Arno River and one of the oldest landmarks in the city. Dating all the way back to 1345, the bridge is known for still carrying its overhanging shops, which are occupied today by jewelers, art dealers and souvenir sellers. The Ponte Vecchio is a pedestrian bridge, making it easy for visitors to stroll around, observe, and interact with the shopkeepers. The atmosphere is brought to life by local musicians, artists and other entertainers, who flock to the bridge to show off their talents.
Kapellbrücke, or Chapel Bridge, is located in the German-speaking city of Lucerne and named after the nearby St. Peter’s Chapel. Spanning across the Reuss River, it contains 17th century interior paintings with scenes of Swiss and local history. One of Switzerland’s most visited attractions, the bridge itself was originally built during the 1300s, making it the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe. The 43-meter tall Wasserturm tower connected to the bridge was constructed 30 years before it and has been used for various different purposes throughout history – including a prison, torture chamber, and municipal archive.
Known as the JK Bridge, this Brazilian motorway takes its name from the country’s former president. It is over a kilometer long and was completed in 2002 to give cars, pedestrians and bicyclists a passage above the eastern shore of Lake Paranoá to the center of the capital city. Because of its distinctive silver arches, the bridge has become a symbol of Brasília and won several awards for its architectural design – one being at the International Bridge Conference in Pittsburgh ‘for a single, recent outstanding achievement’.