For thousands of years, bridges have been built to bypass physical obstacles… a body of water, a valley, a roadway. Symbolically speaking, a bridge can represent a transition in one’s life, a new path. Similar to my post about Windows of the World, here’s a photo essay of some of my favorite bridges I’ve encountered on my travels.
Do you have any photos of bridges? I invite you to share them with me! I’ll upload them to this post, and of course will give you attribution and a link back to your own blog (if you have one.) Send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Completed in 1591, the Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto) is one of the most recognizable images of Venice, Italy. Arching over the Canal Grande, its two gently sloping ramps are lined with shops and meet at an open central portico. Standing on the bridge, looking out at the city’s sumptuous architecture, with romantic gondolas passing underneath you is an experience that will last a lifetime.
Spanning the River Liffey in Dublin, Ireland, this cast-iron pedestrian bridge is commonly called the Ha’penny Bridge because of the short-lived toll once required to cross it. Known as Droichead na Leathphingine in Irish Gaelic, it opened in 1816 and currently accommodates nearly thirty thousand pedestrians every day.
Designed by internationally renowned architect Santiago Calatrava, Puente Alamillo (Alamillo Bridge) was constructed for the 1992 Expo (World’s Fair) in Sevilla, Spain. Crossing the Guadalquivir River, the Alamillo Bridge connects the old quarter of Seville with La Cartuja Island.
Celebrating its 75th anniversary next year, the Golden Gate Bridge is the iconic symbol of San Francisco and undoubtedly one of the most beautiful structures in the world. Linking the city of San Francisco with Marin County to the north, the bridge spans 4600 feet (nearly nine-tenths of a mile) over the Golden Gate Strait, the opening from the Pacific Ocean to the San Francisco Bay. When it opened in 1937, it was the world’s longest suspension bridge.
Located adjacent to the Tower of London (from which it gets its name), Tower Bridge is one of the most elaborate bridges in the world. Tourists often mistakenly call it London Bridge, which is actually the next bridge up the River Thames.
Speaking of London Bridge, after the original one “fell down” (like in the nursery rhyme) a new one was built in the mid-1800s. However, this one began sinking as well, and needed to be replaced. This second bridge was dismantled and meticulously numbered, block by block. It was then shipped overseas through the Panama Canal all the way to California. The blocks were trucked to Arizona and reconstructed at Lake Havasu City. On October 10, 1971 London Bridge was rededicated, halfway around the world.
The Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) is one of the most famous (and touristy) sights in Firenze, Italy. Nowadays, shops selling jewelry, art, and souvenirs line the bridge, which was once where butchers set up shop. Above the Ponte Vecchio is what’s known as the Vasari Corridor. It was built so the Medici family—the VIPs of the day—could travel freely around the city without consorting with commoners.
Another structure designed by Santiago Calatrava, Puente de la Mujer (Woman’s Bridge) is a pedestrian bridge in the modern Puerto Madero district of Buenos Aires, Argentina. This cantilever spar, cable-stayed bridge can rotate 90 degrees to allow boats to pass through.
Some of the best beaches in Southern California are just across the bay from downtown San Diego. The sweeping, curved design of the San Diego-Coronado Bridge was necessary in order to be high enough for navy ships to pass beneath it, but at the same time not too steep for vehicles to drive across it.
The Bosporus Bridge (or in Turkish, Boğaziçi Köprüsü) literally connects two continents: Europe to Asia. This sleek suspension bridge spans 4,954 feet (1,510 meters) across the Bosporus Strait in Istanbul, Turkey. I took this picture from a ferry-boat, which was the only way to cross the waterway before the bridge’s completion in 1973.
My Dad took this photo of a bridge (from a different bridge) above the Corinth Canal, in Greece. Completed in 1893, the canal was dug through the Isthmus of Corinth, separating the Peloponnesian peninsula from the Greek mainland. Due to its narrowness, only the smallest of ships have ever been able to pass through it.
Linking the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn, this beautiful and iconic structure is as “New York” as the Empire State Building or Statue of Liberty to me. When it officially opened to the public on May 24, 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world.
The Ponte 25 de Abril (25th of April Bridge) connects Portugal’s capital city of Lisbon to the town of Almada on the other side of the Tejo River. Many people compare it to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco because of its color, but in actuality it was built by the same company that constructed the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
This is the oldest bridge I have seen on my travels. Built in the 1st century BC during the Roman rule of Córdoba, Spain, it was the only bridge to cross the Guadalquivir River in the city for nearly two thousand years. It looks so clean because it was restored in 2006, two years before I took the photo.
I juxtaposed this photo with the one above it because of their striking similarity in design. The southernmost stretch of U.S Route 1, the 127-mile long Overseas Highway strings the Florida Keys and the mainland together with a series of bridges. The photo above illustrates one of the bridges, the aptly named Seven Mile Bridge. Although the drive to Key West can take four hours each way, the spectacular views along the way make for an unparalleled travel experience.
Just outside the “St. Tropez of South America” Punta del Este, this undulating bridge links the Uruguayan towns of Maldonado and La Barra. Like a teenager, I actually drove back and forth on it to see if our little tin-can-of-a-car could catch air.
Anyone traveling to Pasadena, California is sure to notice the beautiful Beaux Arts structure spanning the Arroyo Seco (dry riverbed) next to the 210 freeway. Unveiled in 1913, the Colorado Street Bridge continues on to become Colorado Boulevard, the site of the world-famous Tournament of Roses Parade every New Years Day.
I just managed to snap this photo from the coach window before we passed over the Most dr. Franje Tuđmana (Franjo Tuđman Bridge) in Dubrovnik, Croatia. It was designed in 1989, but construction was interrupted due to the Croatian War of Independence. It was really remarkable to see such a modern design juxtaposed with the spectacular, ancient city.
Dedicated to the first king of Italy, the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II was completed in 1911 for the 50th anniversary of the nation’s unification. Designed by architect De Rossi, it’s an alternative to the more famous, Ponte Sant’Angelo, just upstream.
The graceful curves of Big Sur’s Bixby Creek Bridge complement the scenic vistas along California’s rugged central coast. Located between San Simeon and Carmel, this section of Highway 1 is loaded with hairpin turns making for a very slow journey. But what’s the rush? It’s one of the most gorgeous drives in the world—relax and enjoy it!
Spanning the mighty Mississippi River, the Crescent City Connection (or CCC as it’s called for short) is actually two cantilever bridges located just outside downtown New Orleans, Louisiana. It’s the widest and most heavily traveled bridge on the lower Mississippi.
My sister took this photo when she and her husband vacationed in Costa Rica. In the rainforest surrounding Arenal Volcano, suspension bridges pass through the forest canopy, allowing visitors magnificent up-close-and-personal views of the vegetation and unique ecosystems. (I hope to do this one day, myself!)
This photo was contributed by Cathy Sweeney of Traveling With Sweeney. Built between the years 1870 and 1884, Madison County, Iowa originally boasted nineteen covered bridges like the one pictured above. Only six remain today, all of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Photographed by Anne-Sophie Redisch of Sophie’s World, this Bridge of Sighs is not the one in Venice, Italy but rather at Oxford University in the UK. It links the old and the new parts of Hertford College together. (The old building used to be student housing and dates back to 1282.)
Another photo by Cathy Sweeney at Traveling With Sweeney, this is the Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge) over Reuss River in Lucerne, Switzerland. It’s the oldest, covered wooden bridge in all of Europe and is unique since it contains a number of interior paintings that date back to the 17th century.
Laurel Robbins at Expat in Germany contributed this photo of the Granville Street Bridge in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It opened to the public in 1954 and was at one time the widest bridge in North America (by one centimeter!)
This photo was taken by John Reese of The French Way. It shows the tallest bridge in the world, the Millau Viaduct (le Viaduc de Millau in French), a cable-stayed road-bridge that spans the valley of the river Tarn near Millau in southern France. It was designed by the renowned British architect Norman Foster and French structural engineer Michel Virlogeux. John accidentally followed the wrong sign and had to pay the toll twice (about 6 Euro each way!)
This photo was taken by Mary Kurzeka. It is one of the many bridges that cross the Yangtze River in China. To me it bears a striking similarity in design to the Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur, California.
Another photo by Mary Kurzeka, this one is known as the Seventeen-Arch Bridge at the Summer Palace in Beijing, China. It was built during the reign of Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799). There are some thirty bridges in the Summer Palace and this is the largest one, with a length of 150 meters (164 yards) and a width of 8 meters (8.75 yards). It connects the eastern shore of Kunming Lake to Nanhu Island.
The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge spans the Cooper River in South Carolina, connecting downtown Charleston to Mount Pleasant. Completed in 2005, it’s the second longest cable-stayed bridge in the Western Hemisphere. This photo was also contributed by Mary Kurzeka.
I took this photo of the Vincent Thomas Bridge from the Lido Deck of the Crystal Symphony cruise ship. The bridge spans the Los Angeles Harbor, from San Pedro to Terminal Island. I don’t think most people even realize that L.A. has a bridge!
This photo was sent in by Yarjan Hamo. It shows the Pirdí Delal (Delal Bridge) over the Khabur River in the town of Zakho,Kurdistan. Forming the border between Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey, the Khabur eventually flows into the Tigris.
Do you have any photos of bridges from your travels? I invite you to share them with me! I’ll upload them to this post, and of course will give you attribution and a link back to your own blog (if you have one.) Send to email@example.com .
Michael Figueiredo is a freelance travel writer based in Los Angeles, California. When he’s not gallivanting around the world, he’s enjoying the laid-back lifestyle and perfect weather of Southern California. So far he’s visited forty countries and territories on five continents. His goal is to see at least one new country every year! . Read more from this author