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TEN MOST AMAZING BRIDGES

Langkawi Sky-Bridge

One of the highest single-support bridges in the world.

The Langkawi Skybridge is a suspension bridge that connects the islands of Langkawi and

Where: Mount Mat Cincang, a 500-million-year-old volcano in Langkawi, Malaysia.

2,000 feet above sea level, 410 feet long, curved, and less than six feet broad are the stats.

Awe Factors: Non-acrophobic travellers can enjoy 360-degree views of the Langkawi islands and the Andaman Sea from this bent half-moon-shaped pedestrian bridge located among the clouds. The bridge, which was built for tourists and opened in 2005, is reached by taking a 15-minute ride on an electric cable car that departs from the Oriental Village mall complex.

Hangzhou Bay Bridge

The world’s longest ocean-crossing bridge

Where: Hangzhou Bay, East China Sea, Yangtze River Delta, crossing the Qiantang River.

The distance between the two points is 22 miles.

The turbulent seas of Hangzhou Bay had to be examined for over a decade before plans were made, with waves reaching 25 feet high and crashing on the shore at 19 miles per hour. The building process took about five years. Commuters from Shanghai to Ningbo will save two hours now that this S-shaped, stayed-cable bridge is complete (it opened to the public in May 2008) and will soon have a service centre on the bridge to refuel, take a food, or even get a night’s sleep if needed.

Leonardo’s Bridge

Leonardo da Vinci designed it in 1502 and Vebjrn Sand built it in 2001.

Where: This pedestrian and cycle arch bridge is in Akershus, Norway, although da Vinci intended for it to span the canal dividing western Constantinople for Sultan Bajazet II.

Sand’s bridge is 360 feet long and 19 feet above the ground, a scaled-down replica of the plan da Vinci envisioned. (The original was supposed to be substantially bigger, with a length of 1,080 feet and a height of 120 feet above sea level.)

Awe Factors: Although da Vinci experts consider the bridge to be the first civil engineering project in history based on a da Vinci design, the modest drawing in the corner of one of da Vinci’s notebooks might have remained just an idea if it hadn’t been for Norwegian artist Vebjrn Sand’s keen eye. Instead, Sand asked the Norwegian Public Roads Administration to assist him in “reimagining” this mathematically and structurally stunning design. Today, the smaller-scale timber building near Oslo (de Vinci preferred stone) is hoped to be the first of many Leonardo bridges around the world, according to Sand. The artist has already built two ice-sculpted replicas of the pattern, one in Antarctica and the other at the United Nations in Manhattan. Sand and his colleagues are currently working on comparable bridges in Odessa, Texas, Karuizawa, Japan, and Istanbul, Turkey, where it was originally planned.

The Bosphorus Bridge

Two continents are connected by a suspension bridge.

Istanbul, Turkey, is located on the Bosphorus Strait.

4,954 feet in length and 210 feet above sea level.

Factors of awe: This suspension bridge, which connects two continents (Europe and Asia) and was completed in 1973, had been in the works since 490 B.C., when it was made of a fleet of boats. Suspension bridge discussions began in 1900 and were revived in 1931 by Nuri Demirag, the architect who designed Turkey’s first aeroplane; it was finally commissioned in 1967 and finished six years later. A tennis match between Venus Williams and Turkish grand slammer Pek Senoglu on the bridge in May 2005 was the first-ever competition between two continents.

Gateshead Millennium Bridge

The first bridge in the world to open with a tilting mechanism, creating a passageway for ships.

Millennium Bridge in Gateshead

Where: Between Gateshead and Newcastle, on the south bank of the River Tyne in England.When fully open, it is 413 feet wide and 164 feet tall.

Factors of awe: When ships need to pass, this curved pedestrian and bike bridge revolves on pivots and rises 164 feet over the sea, powered by eight electric motors with more horsepower than a Lamborghini Diablo. The bridge, whose motion is likened to the opening and closing of a big eye, now puts on a performance at least once a day at midday. The finalised bridge was brought down the river by one of Europe’s largest floating cranes (a 10,560-ton barge taller than Big Ben) after a design contest to add to the stunning lineup of artistic arches on the Tyne. The bridge has its own litter-cleaning system: waste rolls into specific traps each time the bridge opens, preventing it from falling into the river.

Royal Gorge Bridge

The highest suspension bridge in the world

The Royal Gorge Bridge is a bridge that spans the Royal Gor

Where: Royal Gorge, Colorado, at the confluence of the Arkansas and Colorado rivers.1,053 feet above the gorge; 1,260 feet in length.

Awe Factors: Built in six months by mostly untrained individuals in 1929, this bridge was a remarkable achievement of engineering at the time. Despite strong winds, wires were attached at the foot of the gorge and pushed up the granite canyon. The bridge was refurbished in 1982, and wind cables were added. “The bridge moves like waves,” said Peggy Gair, public relations manager for the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, if looking down 1,000 feet wasn’t enough. “It sways and bends slightly, as it should. Its strength is its adaptability.”

Millau Viaduct

The world’s tallest vehicular bridge

Where: In the Massif Central, near Millau in southern France, across the Tarn Valley.

Statistics: 8,100 feet long (less than two miles); cars go 885 feet above sea level, although the bridge’s highest point is 1,125 feet.

Awe Factors: The bridge, which opened in 2004, was designed to have the “delicacy of a butterfly,” according to its architect Norman Foster. This 79,366-pound steel bridge that rises above the skies is supported by seven triangular piers. This is the world’s tallest automobile bridge, rising just above the height of the Eiffel Tower. The bridge is best seen from outside the car, at a designated viewing spot along highway A75 at exit 45, which is a 30-minute walk away.

Ponte dei Sospiri (the Bridge of Sighs)

The world’s most spectacular bridge

The Sospiri Bridge (Ponte dei Sospiri) is a bridge that connect (the Bridge of Sighs)

Rio di Palazzo is located in Venice, just steps away from Piazza San Marco.

The bridge connects the Doge’s Palace to what was originally a jail and was built in the early 1600s in the Baroque style.Awe Factors: Those who traversed this 17th-century white limestone bridge experienced a spectacular passage, according to mythology, because they would only cross it once. The stone-barred windows of the bridge, which was built between a jail and the room of the inquisitors inside the Doge’s Palace, were claimed to offer the prisoners with the final vista they would ever see. In truth, the prison was for petty criminals, and they were not facing execution. The name “Bridge of Sighs” was inspired by a poem by Lord Byron.

Khaju Bridge

One of the most important “multifunctional” bridges in the world.

Khaju Bridge is a bridge in Khaju, South Korea

On the Zayandeh River in Isfahan, Iran.344 feet long, 45 feet wide, with 23 arches

Awe Factors: This bridge is notable for serving three functions—as a passageway, a weir, and a recreation area—in addition to its gorgeous stone foundation, highly coloured tile work on the exterior, and genuine 17th-century paintings on the interior. The bilevel structure, which was built in 1650 as a dam, has a covered interior area upstairs where guests can drink tea and converse in the cool shade. The resonant acoustics inside make it a popular venue for local singers and folk musicians, who assemble there on Friday nights to play.

Alamillo Bridge

One of the world’s most beautiful bridges

Alamillo Bridge is a bridge in Alamillo, Mexico.

Where: Crossing the Guadalquivir River in Seville, Spain.820 feet long and 465 feet tall.

Awe Factors: The bridge, which is supposed to resemble a harp and was built in 1992 by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, is the first of its kind: its centre pole leans at a 58 degree angle, giving the impression that it is balancing. Calatrava, famed for his beautiful, clear aesthetic and skeletal, almost “unfinished” designs, is quickly becoming one of the leading pioneers in bridge design (previous works include the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Tenerife Opera House).

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