18 February 2007


Seeing the Ponte Vecchio in Florence made me consider what would be my list of the world's top bridges? Bridges are well-photographed. They can create a frisson of excitement when you cross them. The heart might race a little. Bridges are rather symbolic. They are about linking two places, finding solutions and they are quite ingenious - declaring man's ability to overcome natural obstacles.
My list considers history and appearance as well as engineering ingenuity. I give you my choices in reverse order

10. Cornish-Windsor Bridge, New Hampshire/Vermont, USA. A beautiful covered wooden structure which speaks of America's pioneering spirit and its westward ambitions.
9. The Iron Bridge, Ironbridge, Shropshire UK. This was the world's first iron bridge and though it imitated some wooden and stone constructional methods, it paved the way for many new approaches to bridge building.
8. Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia. Based upon the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in England, this cantilevered construction has long been a symbol of antipodean belief in a better tomorrow.
7. The Humber Bridge, River Humber, England. It was once the world's longest suspension bridge. I watched it grow from ideas in the Hull Daily Mail. It remains, graceful and impressive and underused. I mean who wants to go to Lincolnshire?
6. The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco. I love that red rusty colour and how to the west of it the Pacific can be so angry yet to the east San Francisco Bay may be like a misty millpond
5. The Ponte Vecchio, Florence. Spanning the turbulent Arno River and still popular with jewellery merchants, this unusual medieval bridge remains both strong and beautiful to behold.
4. Brooklyn Bridge, New York. In its day it was an engineering masterpiece and it continues to play an important role as a key artery in the city's transport web.
3. Tower Bridge, London. With its huge crenellated towers, spanning the great River Thames it continues to declare London's historical significance as the focal point of a vast trading empire.
2. Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, Hyogo, Japan. At 6529 metres it is currently the world's longest suspension bridge. That length married with its graceful strength earns this fantastic modern day bridge its second place.
1. Rialto Bridge, Venice, Italy - spanning the Grand Canal - an instantly recognisable symbol of both Renaissance Italy and the Venetian Republic's practical, commercial and artistic pride.

Now that my list is done, I'm thinking of other bridges - such as the Pont d'Avignon in France or that amazing Danish bridge - the Storabaelt and I'm also thinking that my list is rather ethnocentric - there are probably other bridges in Asia, South America or Africa that deserved recognition. Which bridges have I missed out? Which would you include in your bridge list if you made one?




Number 10, Number 6 and Number 1 - The Rialto Bridge


  1. the tyne bridge in newcastle-gateshead is a scale down version of the syndey harbout bridge YP, both built in the 20s by Dorman Long of Middlesbrough. The high level bridge is the 19th century stevenson bridge over the tyne that carries road and rail on seperate decks. I would nominate the newport lifting bridge and transporter in middlesbrough for this list, working engineering and not static architecture. The humber bridge is as you say pointless as the road it was meant to carry was never built and the pont d'avignmon doesn't even make it across the river! for serious bridge action, forget Italy or france, the north east is where it's at!

  2. No, Arthur - Pontcysyllte,over here in Wales. Yes. I know it's an aquaduct but it still counts, and my number one in England is the Clifton suspension bridge. And then there is the viaduct de Millau in the south of France, the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world. Keith and I saw that just before it was finished.

  3. That new bridge in France is my number 1. The Millau bridge.
    and I still want to bungee from it...

  4. I know it is only for pedestrians but I love the Millenium Bridge over the Tyne.

  5. I really ( can't spell particularily) love GG bridge.. One bridge I really HATE is the Huey P Long bridge in New Orleans.. it's the scariest thing I've ever been on. Originally built as one lane on either side of a rail road trestle, it's now two lanes on either side and they did nothing to widen it!! Traffic jams are common and when the train goes down the middle the bridge shakes so bad you just know that you are going into the muddy Mississippi.

  6. The new Severn Bridge is very beautiful. I stay awake each journey until I'm over the bridge.


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