We live in a world filled with impressive construction and engineering feats, and few can beat the technical achievement of bridges. Here are 5 of the best – from the tallest to the longest:
Millau Viaduct – France
Tallest Bridge in the World
You probably thought the Eiffel Tower was the tallest structure in France, right? Wrong! It was the tallest for over a century until 2004, when the Millau Viaduct was constructed in the gorge valley of the River Tarn in Southern France.
Nearly 2,500m in length, at its peak the Millau Viaduct stands at 343m above the ground, some 8m higher than the iconic Parisian structure. This impressive engineering feat was designed to relieve traffic congestion in the area.
Magdeburg Bridge – Germany
Water Over Troubled Water
Bridges get used for all sorts of different purposes – mainly for people on foot or for railways and roads. The Magdeburg Water Bridge in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, however, is the longest navigable aqueduct in the world.
The Elbe-Havel Canal and the Mittelland Canal previously met the River Elbe at this location but were at significantly higher elevations, meaning there would have to have been an elabourate system of locks constructed (or have ships take a 12km detour) in order for boats to pass between the two. Following the reunification of the country and in a classic example of German efficiency, vessels can now pass directly over the Elbe thanks to this bridge.
Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge – China
Half a Billion Tons Of Sheer Length
With a population in excess of 1.3billion people, you can trust the Chinese to be able to throw a lot of manpower behind something to make it seriously impressive. Enter the Danyan-Kunshan Bridge. Opening in 2011 following a four year construction period involving 10,000 people, the bridge comes in at a staggering 102 miles in length. That’s 164km, or roughly the distance in a straight line between the centres of Birmingham and London. Over this distance it predominantly passes over water, making this one of the most all round impressive bridges in the world.
Ponte Vecchio – Italy
Hitler Wouldn’t Destroy It
From the toweringly tall and the ludicrously long to the quaint and romantic world of Florence. The Ponte Vecchio bridge over the Arno River was built in 1345 and appears to have remained much the same ever since – being nicknamed the Bridge That Wouldn’t Die. The novelty about it is the fact that there are actually shops and houses built into the structure, somehow clinging onto the side as though unwilling to accept defeat.
A beautiful and iconic structure, allegedly it was the only bridge not destroyed by the German army during their retreat from the British in 1944, on express orders from Hitler.
Sidu River Bridge – China
Don’t Look Down
We round up our list with another visit to China, and very much back in the realm of the impressive engineering feat. The Sidu River bridge crosses the river’s valley in the Hubei Province, and was opened in 2009.
Balanced precariously on top of two peaks in the valley, the clearance from the bottom of the bridge to the bottom of the gorge is at least 500m. The nearest road to the site is over 3km away and the valley itself is one impressively steep carving into the landscape, with the valley sides covered in forests that amount to amazing views. One of the first questions you surely ask it “how do you even start to build that?” Rockets, of course!
Feeling inspired? Why not look at our latest roles in construction?