Bridge builders and designers have always tried to exceed current technology by making their new bridge bigger, longer, taller, etc.
When a new bridge is constructed and is the biggest, tallest, longest, newest.... it will only remain so for a few years - another new bridge will always come along to break its record.
In all walks of life it is human nature to try to exceed what has gone before whilst creating something beautiful and functional.
This showcase of some of the world's most famous bridges shows that, not only are advances in technology and engineering skills being achieved today, but they have been for centuries, it also shows the outstanding techniques and creativity of the photographers.
Bridges Around The World
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
The Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge span in the world when it was completed in 1937, and has become one of the most internationally recognized symbols of the United States. Although it’s length has been surpassed by eight other bridges since its completion, it still has the second longest suspension bridge main span in the United States. It has been declared one of the modern wonders of the world by the American Society of Civil Engineers, and is one of the world’s most photographed bridges.
Tower Bridge, London
Tower Bridge is a combined bascule and suspension bridge. It spans the River Thames and is situated close to the Tower of London, which gives it its name. It has become an iconic symbol of London. The bridge’s present colors date from 1977 when it was painted red, white and blue for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. It was originally brown.
Tower Bridge is sometimes mistakenly referred to as London Bridge, which is the next bridge upstream. Tower Bridge, along with the Golden Gate Bridge, is also one of the world’s most photographed bridges.
The Bridge of Sighs, Italy
The Bridge of Sighs in Venice is an enclosed bridge made of white limestone. It passes over the Rio di Palazzo and connects the old prisons to the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace. It was built in 1602. The bridge was given its name by Lord Byron (English poet 1788-1824), and comes from the suggestion that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice before being taken to their cells.
Local legend says that lovers will be granted everlasting love and bliss if they kiss on a gondola at sunset under the bridge, and be in love and happily married to a blissful husband or wife for the rest of their lives.
The Brooklyn Bridge, New York
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. It was completed in 1883 and spans the East River connecting the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. It was the longest suspension bridge in the world from its opening until 1903, and the first steel-wire suspension bridge. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964.
The Forth Bridge, Scotland
The Forth Bridge is a cantilever railway bridge over the Firth of Forth in the east of Scotland, connecting Edinburgh and Fife. It was opened in March 1890. Until 1917 it had the longest single cantilever bridge span in the world.
Dongting Lake Bridge, China
The Dongting Lake Bridge has a cable-stayed bridge section and spans Dongting Lake in northeastern Hunan Province, China. The bridge was completed in 2002.
Szechenyi Chain Bridge, Hungary
The Széchenyi Chain Bridge is a suspension bridge that spans the River Danube between Buda and Pest, the western and eastern sides of Budapest, the capital of Hungary. It was the first permanent bridge across the Danube in Budapest, and was opened in 1849.
Chengyang Bridge, China
Completed in 1916, the Chengyang Bridge is situated in the Guangxi Province, and is a perfect combination of painting, bridge, corridor, veranda and Chinese pavilion. It has two platforms, three piers and 4 spans. Five pavilions, 19 verandas and three floors. The piers are made of stone, the upper structures are mainly wooden and the roofs are covered with tiles.
Si-o-se Pol, Iran
Si-o-se Pol, which means the Bridge of 33 Arches, was built in 1602 and is one of the eleven bridges of Isfahan, Iran. It is highly ranked as being one of the most famous examples of Safavid bridge design.
The Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge, Japan
The Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge, also known as the Pearl Bridge, has the longest central span of any suspension bridge. It was completed in 1998 and links the city of Kobe on the mainland of Honshu to Iwaya on Awaji Island by spanning the Akashi Strait.
The Millau Viaduct, France
The Millau Viaduct is a cable-stayed road bridge that spans the valley of the river Tarn near Millau in southern France. It was opened in 2004, and is the tallest bridge in the world. The bridge received the 2006 IABSE Outstanding Structure Award.
Ponte Vecchio, Italy
The Ponte Vecchio (“Old Bridge”) is a Medieval bridge over the Arno River in Florence, Italy, noted for still having shops built along it, as was once common. Butcher initially occupied the shops, however, the present tenants are jewelers, art dealers and souvenir sellers. It has been described as Europe’s oldest wholly stone, closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge.
Gateshead Millennium Bridge, England
The Gateshead Millennium Bridge is a pedestrian and cyclist tilt bridge spanning the River Tyne. The award winning structure was opened in 2001.
Oresund Bridge, Denmark to Sweden
The Oresund Bridge is a combined twin-track railway and dual carriageway bridge tunnel across the Oresund strait. The bridge connects Sweden and Denmark and is the longest road and rail bridge in Europe. The purpose of digging a tunnel for part of the way, rather than simply raising that section of the bridge, was to avoid interfering with airliners from the nearby Copenhagen International Airport, and also to provide a clear channel for ships in good weather or bad, and to prevent ice floes from blocking the strait. The Oresund Bridge received the 2002 IABSE Outstanding Structure Award.
Tsing Ma Bridge, Hong Kong
The Tsing Ma Bridge is the longest span road and rail suspension bridge in the world. It was opened in 1997.
The Erasmusbrug is a cable stayed bridge across the Nieuwe Maas river, linking the northern and southern halves of the city of Rotterdam. It was completed in 1996. The southern span of the bridge has a bascule bridge for ships that cannot pass under it. The bascule has the largest panel of its type in the world.
Rialto Bridge, Italy
The Rialto Bridge is one of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal in Venice. It is the oldest bridge across the canal, dating from 1591 – although there was a wooden bridge on the site dating from 1255.
The Iron Bridge, England
The Iron Bridge crosses the River Severn at the Ironbridge Gorge by the village of Ironbridge in Shropshire. It was the first arch bridge in the world to be made out of cast iron. The bridge was opened in 1781.
Puente Nuevo, Spain
The Puente Nuevo (“New Bridge”) is the newest and largest of the three bridges that span the 120-metre deep chasm that carries the Guadalevin River and divides the city of Ronda in Southern Spain. the bridge was built in 1751 and took a total of 42 years to complete.
Magdeburg Water Bridge, Germany
The Magdeburg Water Bridge is a navigable aqueduct in Germany, opened in October 2003. It connects the Elebe-Havel Canal to the Mittelland Canal, crossing over the Elbe River. It is notable for being the longest navigable aqueduct in the world.
These bridges are deemed to be some of the most famous in the world... how many had you actually even heard of? I must confess, I probably knew of about half of them before compiling this list. Although bridge building is extreme engineering, we don't hear too much about it in general, as opposed to natural wonders such as waterfalls - we have all probably heard of most of the famous waterfalls in the world - you can check out some famous and mind-blowing waterfalls in the article Nature's Wonders: Stunning Waterfall Photography
All of these bridges have been or will be the inspiration for what comes after them. Every art form needs inspirational precedents to continue to grow and improve.
Please leave any comments on the structures or the photographs below.