There is something fascinating about bridges. More than simply a means to get from here to there, bridges symbolize the human spirit’s desire to fill the gap between what was and where we want to be. A forward leap toward the creation of new things and new possibilities.
Whether this earnest progression into places unknown takes shape architecturally and artistically, or through engineering and contemporary urban planning needs, the best bridges the world are perfect reflections of the time and cultures in which they were born.
Our choices for the top 10 bridges around the world span valleys, oceans, bays, and cityscapes, in countries from North and South America to Britain and Asia. These towering masterpieces are some of the best examples of modernism and classicism, highlighting not only the art in the bridges themselves but bringing to life the beauty of the landscape around them.
Here are our picks for the top 10 bridges around the world…
1. Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco, USA
The Golden Gate Bridge is not just a symbol of San Francisco, but of the entire state of California. This majestic beauty, painted boldly in “International Orange” is ranked 5th on the list of America’s Favorite Architectural Structures by the American Institute of Architects. Linking the San Francisco peninsula with Marin County to the north, the bridge’s dynamic color was chosen by designer Joseph Strauss to blend in with the natural surroundings and to be easily visible to ships.
2. Millau Viaduct – France
This breathtaking beauty spans the valley of the River Tarn in the south of France. Standing at 1,125 ft., it is just 121 ft. shorter than the Empire State Building in New York City, USA. The Millau Viaduct is the tallest bridge in the world, from the base of the structure, and the 12th highest bridge in the world from below the road deck. Its delicate, streamlined construction is an unobtrusive and dynamic way to travel from Paris to Spain.
3. Jiaozhou Bay Bridge – China
The Jiaozhou Bay Bridge is the world’s longest cross-sea bridge. At a length of 26.4 miles, this 110ft wide road bridge links China’s Eastern port city of Qingdao to the offshore island of Huangdao. The Jiaozhou Bay Bridge cost approximately $1.5 billion to build.
4. Tower Bridge – London, UK
This grand bascule and suspension bridge sits nobly over the River Thames, in London. Completed at the end of the 19th Century, the elaborate Tower Bridge is still a vital crossing point for more than 40,000 Londoners every day. The bridge’s bascules rise and fall 1,000 times each year.
5. Helix Bridge – Singapore
This ultra-modern, double helix structure in Singapore was completed in April 2010. Featuring a gallery and observation platform that offers incredible views, the Helix Bridge links the Marina Centre with the Marina Bay in the city.
6. Brooklyn Bridge – New York City, USA
The Brooklyn Bridge is an iconic figure in the New York City skyline and is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. Constructed in 1883, the bridge spans the East River, connecting Manhattan with the boroughs of Brooklyn. Until 1903, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world.
7. Octavio Frias de Oliveira Bridge – Sao Paulo, Brazil
Since it’s opening in 2008, the sophisticated Octavio Frias de Oliveira Bridge has become one of the most recognizable landmarks in Sao Paulo. The most fascinating feature of this avant-garde bridge is the unusual “X” formation of the bridge deck.
8. Hangzhou Bay Bridge – China
The Hangzhou Bay Bridge is the second longest transoceanic bridge in the world, coming in behind another of China’s architectural treasures, the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge. The structure connects the Jiaxing and Ningbo municipalities, over a course of 22 miles, and has reduced highway travel from Shanghai to Ningbo from 4 to 2.5 hours.
9. Forth Railway Bridge – Scotland
Constructed in 1890, the Forth Railway Bridge in Scotland was Britain’s first bridge made entirely from steel. This engineering marvel is the world’s longest cantilever bridge for rail transport, at 1.5 miles, and connects the Fife council area with Edinburgh.
10. Henderson Wave Bridge – Singapore
Rising 118 feet above Henderson Road, in Singapore, this wave-shaped steel bridge is the highest pedestrian bridge in the city. The snake-like structure received the Design of the Year for President’s Design Award at Singapore Design Week in 2009.
Was there a top bridge from around the world that we missed? Have a favorite bridge you would add to our list? Tell us more in the comments below!