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Top 10: most beautiful bridges in the world

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (May 2, 2016): top 10 most beautiful bridges in the world.

Not all bridges are just a convenient construction to connect two points by spanning a river or valley. Some of them rank among the world’s most iconic sights and millions of tourist flock to see them every year. The following 10 bridges are jewels of architecture and marvels of technology  that have become landmarks in their own right.

There is more information below the slideshow. Think I missed one? Share your favorite bridge in the comments section, or take my poll below!

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10. KHAJU BRIDGE, ISHAFAN, IRAN

This Iranian bridge is one of the finest examples of Persian architecture at the height of Safavid cultural influence in Iran. Located in the Isfahan province,  the Khaju bridge performs many functions. The first is connecting the two banks of the Zayandeh river. At the same time, it works as a dam that separates two portions of the river with different water levels. Finally, it is an excellent place for leisure, with its pavilions and steps over the water, in a region where the heat is often intense.

KHAJU BRIDGE, ISHAFAN, IRAN

KHAJU BRIDGE, ISHAFAN, IRAN


9. BIXBY CREEK BRIDGE, BIG SUR, CALIFORNIA, USA

Completed in 1932 for just over $200,000, the concrete span, one of the highest bridges of its kind in the world, soars 79 meters (260 ft) above the bottom of a steep canyon carved by Bixby Creek. One look at the canyon’s steep and crumbling cliffs, and it’s obvious that building the bridge wasn’t exactly a cakewalk. Ironically, the span was completed before the road, and it would be five more years before the route would even be opened. It is one of the most photographed bridges along the Pacific Coast due to its aesthetic design and location along one of the world’s most spectacular roads.

BIXBY CREEK BRIDGE, BIG SUR, CALIFORNIA, USA

BIXBY CREEK BRIDGE, BIG SUR, CALIFORNIA, USA


8. TOWER BRIDGE LONDON, UK

Tower Bridge was built 120 years ago over the Thames to ease road traffic while maintaining river access to the London docks. Built with giant moveable roadways that lift up for passing ships, it is to this day considered an engineering marvel and one of London’s favorite icons. It is arguably one of the most instantly recognisable structures in the entire world. The bridge deck is freely accessible to both vehicles and pedestrians, whereas the bridge’s twin towers, high-level walkways and Victorian engine rooms form part of the Tower Bridge Exhibition, for which an admission charge is made.

TOWER BRIDGE LONDON, UK

TOWER BRIDGE LONDON, UK


7. SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE, AUSTRALIA

Sydney Harbour Bridge is the world’s tallest steel arch bridge, measuring 134 m (440 ft) from top to water level. In its beautiful harbour location, it has become a renowned international symbol of Australia. Its total length including approach spans is 1149 metres (3770 ft) and its arch span is 503 meters (1650 ft). The bridge – nicknamed “The Coathanger” because of its arch-based design – carries rail, vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic between Sydney’s central business district and the North Shore.

SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE, AUSTRALIA

SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE, AUSTRALIA


6. PONTE DI RIALTO, VENICE

Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge) was built in just three years, between 1588 and 1591, as a permanent replacement for the boat bridge and three wooden bridges that had spanned the Grand Canal at various times since the 12th Century. The Rialto Bridge’s 7.5 meter (24 ft) arch was designed to allow passage of galleys, and the massive structure was built on some 12,000 wooden pilings that still support the bridge more than 400 years later. The architect, Antonio da Ponte competed against such eminent designers as Michelangelo and Palladio for the contract.

PONTE DI RIALTO, VENICE, ITALY

PONTE DI RIALTO, VENICE, ITALY


5. BROOKLYN BRIDGE, NEW YORK CITY, USA

New York’s famous Brooklyn Bridge is a suspension bridge that connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn by spanning the East River over a length of 486.3 m (1,596 ft). Construction of the bridge began in 1869 and was opened fourteen years later. The bridge is one of New York’s best free attractions and has a wide pedestrian walkway open to walkers and cyclists in its center above the automobile lanes. While walking from Brooklyn towards Manhattan, you will be overwhelmed by the skyline views unfolding in front of you.

BROOKLYN BRIDGE, NEW YORK, USA

BROOKLYN BRIDGE, NEW YORK, USA


4. MILLAU VIADUCT, FRANCE

The Millau Viaduct is part of the A75-A71 Freeway from Paris to Montpellier, and is located in the Aveyron départment in southern France. It is the highest bridge in the world, standing 270 meters (890 ft) over the Tarn River and is more than 340 meters (1,125 ft) in height at the top of its highest mast. It is slightly taller than the Eiffel Tower in Paris and only 38 meters (125 ft) shorter than the Empire State Building. It is a cable-stayed road bridge designed by engineer Michel Virlogeux and British architect Norman Foster.

MILLAU VIADUCT, FRANCE

MILLAU VIADUCT, FRANCE


3. PONTE VECCHIO, FLORENCE, ITALY

No visit to Florence is complete without at least some time spent dawdling on its medieval arch bridge, Ponte Vecchio, that spans the Arno river at its narrowest point. The bridge was first built in Roman times, but rebuilt in the 14th century after it was destroyed by a flood. During World War II it was the only bridge across the Arno that the fleeing Germans did not destroy. There have always been shops on Ponte Vecchio. Initially, these were butchers and fishmongers but it was later decided that only goldsmiths and jewellers be allowed to have their shops here.

PONTE VECCHIO, FLORENCE, ITALY

PONTE VECCHIO, FLORENCE, ITALY


2. CHARLES BRIDGE, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

Charles Bridge is a stone gothic bridge that crosses the Vltava river and connects Prague’s Old Town and Lesser Town (Malá Strana). The bridge is 621 metres (2,037 ft) long and nearly 10 metres (33 ft) wide, resting on 16 arches shielded by ice guards. The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues and statuaries, most of them baroque-style, originally erected around 1700 but now all replaced by replicas. From the bridge, visitors have a stunning panoramic view of the Prague Castle.

CHARLES BRIDGE, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

CHARLES BRIDGE, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC


1. GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE, SAN FRANCISCO, USA

The iconic Golden Bridge, one of the most internationally recognized symbols of the USA, spans the channel between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, linking the city of San Francisco with Marin County. It opened in 1937 and was, until 1964, the longest suspension bridge main span in the world, at  1,300 m (4,200 ft). The bridge was recently retrofitted, to better resist earthquakes given its proximity to the Ring of Fire. The bridge is popular with pedestrians and bicyclists, and has walkways and cycling paths on either side of the six vehicle traffic lanes.

GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE, SAN FRANCISCO, USA

GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE, SAN FRANCISCO, USA


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