Bridges have long held a certain mystique. In literature, they often symbolize an obstacle that must be overcome or a transition from one state to another. Perhaps that’s why many people are so fascinated with them. Or maybe it’s just that these architectural marvels are often so striking, we can’t help but stand in awe.
From across the globe, these 15 bridges are among the most iconic, historic, unique and physics-defying in the world.
Helix Bridge – Singapore
Shaped like a twisting strand of DNA, the Helix Bridge opened in 2010 as the world’s first curved bridge. The pedestrian-only bridge is designed with an illuminated walkway wrapped in four inners spirals (to represent the four bases of DNA) of glass and steel. Linking Marina Centre with Marina South, the bridge offers beautiful views of the Singapore skyline, Gardens by the Bay nature park and Marina Bay Sands mega-resort, particularly from its four viewing platforms.
Puente de la Mujer – Buenos Aires, Argentina2 of 15NEXT
Designed by famed architect Santiago Calatrava, the Puente de la Mujer was completed in 2001 and is known for its swinging footbridge, which rotates 90 degrees to allow boats through. The bridge’s asymmetrical design is meant to evoke a couple dancing the tango, though some say it looks more like a fishhook, sail or harp.
The 335-foot-long bridge was built to better connect the city’s port area, the Puerto Madero, with the rest of the city. It’s since become a symbol of Buenos Aires, and is beautifully illuminated each evening.
Brooklyn Bridge – New York, New York
More than 120,00 vehicles, 4,000 pedestrians and 3,100 cyclists cross over the East River from Brooklyn to Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge every day, but when the bridge was completed in 1883, people were a little less sure about it. After a woman fell down a staircase on the bridge, the ensuing panic caused 12 people to be crushed to death. Later, a parade of 12 elephants was led across the bridge in a stunt designed to show people how safe it was.
One of the oldest suspension bridges in the U.S., the bridge is a National Historic Landmark, and one of New York’s most popular attractions. It’s appeared on screen in movies ranging from “Moonstruck” and “Sex and the City” to “Ghostbusters” and “Spiderman.”
Golden Bridge – Da Nang, Vietnam
Located in the Bà Nà Hills of central Vietnam, Cau Vang, or the Golden Bridge, is a 490-foot-long pedestrian bridge and scenic overlook. The bridge, which sits 3,200 feet above sea level, opened in June 2018, and photos of the one-of-a-kind structure instantly went viral.
Not only is the bridge impressively located high above the trees, but the walkway appears to be held up by two massive stone hands. The area around the bridge, formerly the site of an American army base, has been a tourist attraction for decades, replete with a cable car, gardens, replica French medieval village and wax museum. Now, thanks to this striking bridge, it’s become an even more popular spot.
Langkawi Sky Bridge – Langkawi, Malaysia
Completed in 2004, the Langkawi Sky Bridge is the longest free span and curved suspension bridge in the world. Hanging 2,200 feet — nearly the length of a football field — in the air, the 400-foot-long bridge sits on top of Machinchang mountain and offers incredible views of the lush green jungle below.
To reach the bridge, visitors first take the Langkawi Cable Car to the top station, and then ride the SkyGlide lift the rest of the way up. The pedestrian-only bridge can accommodate 250 people at once and includes two large viewing platforms at either end.
Tsing Ma – Hong Kong
Connecting Hong Kong and Lantau Island, the Tsing Ma bridge is the longest suspension bridge that carries both rail and road traffic. The double-decker bridge was completed in 1997 at a cost of $920 million, and its opening was attended by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
The bridge runs 1.3 miles and is closed to foot traffic, so to see it up close, you’ll need to be traveling by car or train. Alternatively, check it out from the viewing platform at the Lantau Link Visitor Centre or from Ma Wan Beach.
Tower Bridge – London, England
A Gothic-style bascule (similar to a drawbridge) and suspension bridge, the Tower Bridge was built from 1886 to 1894 across the city’s Thames River. It consists of two towers connected at the top by two horizontal walkways (one of which is glass), and a bascule that pivots to raise the road and allow ships to sail through.
The two towers, walkways and Victorian engine room can only be visited as part of the ticketed Tower Bridge Exhibition, but the rest of the bridge is accessible to cars and pedestrians crossing the river.
Seven Mile Bridge – Florida Keys, Florida
Stretching from Marathon, Florida to Little Duck Key, southern Florida’s Seven Mile Bridge was one of the longest bridges in the world when it opened in 1912. Part of the Overseas Highway, today it actually consists of two parallel bridges: the older bridge (originally named the Knights Key-Pigeon Key-Moser Channel-Pacet Channel Bridge), which is only open to pedestrians and cyclists, and a modern section — finished in 1982 — exclusively open to cars. Both touch low to the ocean, creating the sense that you’re gliding over the sea.
The old section is currently closed for repairs until 2021, but when open, it’s a popular spot for fishing, running and cycling over the beautiful blue waters of the Atlantic.
Millau Viaduct Bridge – Millau, France
Rising 1,125 feet — taller than the Eiffel Tower — the Millau Viaduct is the world’s highest vehicular bridge. Building it cost more than $600 million and took 17 years, but the wait was worth it.
The bridge opened in 2004 and has since become a regional tourist attraction, drawing crowds who come to canoe beneath it, hang glide above it or simply admire this architectural wonder from afar. It’s at its most spectacular when fog rolls into the valley, often appearing as though it’s floating above the clouds.
Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco, California
Completed in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most recognizable structures in the world and has been named one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The 4,200-foot-long suspension span — which set records when it opened — runs across the Golden Gate Strait, and connects the city of San Francisco to Marin County.
More than 200,000 people crossed the bridge on the day it opened; today, more than 112,000 cars and 27,000 pedestrians and bikers traverse it every day, often while shrouded in the city’s notorious fog.
Ponte Vecchio – Florence, Italy
Florence’s oldest bridge (and oldest in the narrow category of “stone, closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge” in Europe), the Ponte Vecchio is a medieval bridge that dates back to 1345. It’s distinguished not only by history, but by the shops that line its span. Originally, these outposts were occupied by butchers, and then later, jewelers and art dealers; now they are filled mostly with trinket and souvenir stores.
During WWII, Hitler deemed the bridge important enough that he ordered his troops to leave it unscathed, but it was nearly destroyed by floods two decades later in 1966. Today, it’s one of Florence’s most recognizable landmarks and popular tourist attractions.
Széchenyi Chain Bridge – Budapest, Hungary
When it opened in 1849, this bridge crossing the Danube River connected the separate cities of “Buda” and “Pest,” now united as Hungary’s capital. During WWII, the bridge was completely destroyed; only the pillars were left standing. It was rebuilt in 1947 and today, with its stone lions on either side of the entrance, it is an enduring symbol of Budapest.
The bridge is particularly popular with locals and visitors at night, when it’s beautifully illuminated, and during the many summer festivals held on it.
Sydney Harbour Bridge – Sydney, Australia
Nicknamed “The Coathanger” for its arched design, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is as synonymous with Australia as kangaroos. It took 1,400 workers eight years to build this architectural beauty, which opened in 1932. It hold several records, including the sixth longest spanning-arch bridge in the world, the tallest steel arch bridge, and, until 2012, the world’s widest long-span bridge.
Today, it’s a major transport route for pedestrians, cyclists, cars and trains. Since 1998, adrenaline junkies have been able to climb the arches of the bridge (while safely harnessed in) on the BridgeClimb experience.
The Harbour Bridge is also a major part of the city’s New Year’s Eve; since 1997, various images and words have been illuminated on the bridge using rope lights.
Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas – Bordeaux,
The longest vertical-lift bridge in Europe, the Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmasat is 380 feet long and can raise and lower its span a whopping 252 vertical feet, allowing tall ships to sail under it even when the Garonne River is at high tide. The bridge opened in 2013 and transports cars, bikes, trams and pedestrians across the river.
This striking monument is best seen up close, either on foot while crossing it or from below on a ship. But it can also be viewed from either side of the river or from La Cité du Vin, Bordeaux’s eight-story museum of wine.
Vasco da Gama Bridge – Lisbon, Portugal
Stretching 11 miles over the Tagus River and named for the legendary Portuguese explorer, the Vasco da Gama bridge was built in 1998 for the Lisbon World Exposition. The bridge is the longest in Europe; it’s so long, in fact, that engineers had to account for the curvature of the earth when building it.
This incredible feat of engineering only took 18 months for 3,300 workers to complete, though it came at a cost of about $1 billion. The bridge is so long that on cloudy days, it’s impossible to see from one end of it to the other.