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The primary purpose of a bridge may be to connect one place to another, but bridges can also serve a greater function: to inspire awe. We've collected bridges that do just that, with both cutting-edge architecture and centuries-old designs.Click through to see the world's most amazing bridges.
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Where: New York City
Opened in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge is one of America's oldest and most striking suspension bridges. It gained notoriety when it opened for being both the longest suspension bridge in the world at 1,595.5 feet, and the first steel-wire suspension bridge. The bridge spans the East River and connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. In 1964 it was designated a National Historic Landmark.
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Henderson Wave Bridge
Singapore's Henderson Waves Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that stands 118 feet above bustling Henderson Road and connects Mount Faber Park to Telok Blangah Hill Park. The nearly 900-foot-long bridge is designed with a wave-like structure comprising seven undulating curved ribs. These ribs create alcoves that provide seating and shelter to passersby.
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Where: Prague, Czech Republic
One of Europe's most celebrated historic bridges, the Charles Bridge spans the Vltava River in Prague, connecting Prague Castle to the city's Old Town. The bridge's construction commenced in 1357 during the reign of King Charles IV and reached completion during the start of the 15th century. The Old Town bridge tower is celebrated as one of the finest civil gothic-style buildings in the world. Also of note, the 2,037-foot-long bridge is flanked by an alley of 30 baroque-style statues of saints and patron saints (the originals have been replaced by replicas).
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Sydney Harbor Bridge
Where: Sydney, Australia
One of Australia's best-known landmarks, the Sydney Harbor Bridge carries vehicle, pedestrian, bike and rail traffic between Sydney's Central Business District and the city's North Shore. The bridge ranks as the world's tallest steel arch bridge, measuring 440 feet from its top to water level.
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Where: Between Copenhagen, Denmark, and Malmo, Sweden
The longest combined road and rail bridge in Europe, the Oresund Bridge links Copenhagen, Denmark, and Malmo, Sweden. The 25,738-foot-long structure connects Scandinavia's road and rail networks with Central and Western Europe's networks. The bridge supports two railway tracks beneath four road lanes and stretches from the Swedish coast to the artificial island of Peberholm. After reaching the island, the remainder of the link is a 2.5-mile-long tunnel to the Danish island, Amager.
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Where: Big Sur, Calif.
One of America's most spectacular road trips is along California's State Route 1 through Big Sur, and one of the trip's most breathtaking photographed sights is the Bixby Bridge. At 260 feet high, Bixby is one of the tallest single span concrete bridges in the world.
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Where: Millau, France
The Millau Viaduct takes the title of world's tallest vehicular bridge, rising 1,125 feet above land. The cable-stayed bridge stretches more than 8,000 feet across the River Tarn valley and is part of the A75-A71 autoroute axis that connects Paris to Montpellier. The bridge is widely considered to be one of the world's greatest engineering achievements, and in 2006 earned the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering's Outstanding Structure Award.
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Magdeburg Water Bridge
Where: Magdeburg, Germany
Germany's Magdeburg Bridge is a 3,011-foot-long navigable aqueduct that connects the Elbe-Havel Canal to the Mittelland Canal over the Elbe River. Opened in 2003, the bridge is the longest navigable aqueduct in the world and allows boat traffic to cross directly over the river, bypassing a 7.4-mile detour.
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Golden Gate Bridge
Where: San Francisco
Arguably America's most iconic bridge, California's Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge that links the city of San Francisco to Marin County. When it opened in 1937, the 4,200-foot-long Golden Gate ranked as the world's longest suspension bridge. It held the title until 1964. The bridge has been designated one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
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Puente del Alamillo
Where: Sevilla, Spain
Designed for The Universal Exposition of Seville (Expo '92) in 1992, the Puente del Alamillo allowed access to La Cartuja, an island in the Guadalquivir River. The cable-stayed bridge has a 656-foot span and its unique design features a striking 466-foot-tall pylon slanted at a 68-degree angle. The bridge has gained acclaim for being balanced through added weights, and because it doesn't require any type of back anchorage.
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Where: Seoul, South Korea
Downtown Seoul's Banpo Bridge crosses the Han River and sits atop the Jamso Bridge, creating a "double decker" bridge. Still, what makes the Banpo a favorite with locals and tourists is its Moonlight Rainbow Fountain, a 3,740-foot-long fountain spanning the length of the bridge. The fountain is the world's longest bridge fountain. It broke a Guinness World Record for its 10,000 LED nozzles, which spray 190 tons of water per minute. The water is pumped from the river and continuously recycled.
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Chengyang Wind and Rain Bridge
Where: Sanjiang County, China
Built in 1916, China's Chengyang Bridge has a number of features, including a corridor, 5 verandas and 19 pavilions. Spanning 211 feet across the Linxi River, the bridge was built without nails or rivets. Instead, dovetailed wooden structures were built atop stone support towers. The structure is a traditional "wind and rain" bridge, meaning it shelters people from the elements.
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Leonardo's "Golden Horn" Bridge
Where: Aas (near Oslo), Norway
The original Golden Horn Bridge was built in 1502, crossing the Bosporus River in Istanbul. Leonardo da Vinci was asked to provide designs for that bridge, but his plans were never approved. In 2001, a scaled down version of the bridge da Vinci envisioned (based on drawings found in one of his notebooks) opened near Oslo, Norway. When the wood and stainless steel footbridge opened in 2001, it became the first civil-engineering project based on a da Vinci design ever to be built.
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Where: Ronda, Spain
The dramatic Puente Nuevo spans a 390-foot-deep chasm in Ronda, Spain, through which the Guadalevin River runs. The bridge connects the old and new quarters of Ronda. Construction of the bridge began in 1751 and took 42 years to complete. The interiors of the bridge's columns were once used as a prison, and later a bar. Today they house a museum dedicated to the bridge's history.
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Vasco de Gama Bridge
Where: Lisbon, Portugal
Measuring 10.7 miles long, Lisbon's Vasco de Gama Bridge is Europe's longest bridge. The cable-stayed bridge spans the Tagus River and was opened in 1998, in time for the World's Fair celebrating the 500th anniversary of explorer Vasco de Gama's discovery of a sea route from Europe to India.
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Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
More commonly known as the Zakim Bridge, this 10-lane, cable-stayed bridge stretches across the Charles River in Boston. The bridge and its connecting tunnel were built as part of the city's massive Big Dig construction project. It opened in 2003. The bridge's unique design is meant to resemble two historic Boston attractions: the tower of the Bunker Hill Monument (commemorating the Battle of Bunker Hill), and the USS Constitution, the world's oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat.
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Where: Isfahan, Iran
Constructed in the 1650s, the Khaju Bridge in Isfahan, Iran, serves as both a bridge and a dam stretching across the Zayandeh River. The 436-foot-long bridge consists of 24 arches. Though its primary function is as bridge and dam, the structure once served as a venue for public meetings, too.
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Royal Gorge Bridge
Where: Canon City, Colorado
The Royal Gorge Bridge is the highest suspension bridge in the United States and spans the Arkansas River at a height of 955 feet. The bridge lies within a 360-acre theme park and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Colorado.
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Sidu River Bridge
Where: Hubei Province, China
China's dramatic, 4,009-foot-long Sidu River Bridge spans the Sidu River Valley in China's Hubei Province. Situated 1,627 feet above the valley, it is the highest bridge in the world. The suspension bridge was the first to have its first suspension cable installed using a rocket because the bridge's location would not allow for boats or helicopters to be used.
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Octavio Frias De Oliveira Bridge
Where: Sao Paolo, Brazil
Opened in 2008, the Octavio Frias de Oliveira Bridge crosses Sao Paolo's Pinheiros River. The 438-foot-tall bridge has a striking design, with a tower that crosses like an "X." The "X" measures 249 feet wide at its base and 116 feet wide at its top.
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Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge
Where: Brasilia, Brazil
Brazil's Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge (or JK Bridge, for short) opened in 2002 to much fanfare, thanks to its three crisscrossing steel arches that support the bridge's deck weight. The entire structure is 3,900 feet long and supports vehicular traffic as well as pedestrians and bicyclists.
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Where: Venice, Italy
One of Italy's most easily recognized sites, the Ponte Vecchio in Florence is a Medieval stone bridge spanning the Arno River. The bridge's history stretches back centuries. It first appeared in documents around 996 AD and was reconstructed after being destroyed by flooding in the 12th and 14th centuries. During World War II, Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge in Florence not destroyed by German forces.
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Where: Marina Bay, Singapore
Singapore's striking pedestrian bridge, the Helix opened in 2010 and connects Marina Centre with Marina South. The unique spiral design was the brainchild of a consortium of international design teams. Canopies provide shade and shelter from rain for pedestrians and viewing platforms offer stellar views of the Singapore skyline.
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Tsing Ma Bridge
Where: Hong Kong, China
Hong Kong's Tsing Ma Bridge is the world's largest suspension bridge to carry both rail and road traffic. The structure has a main span of 4,518 feet and height of 676 feet. The bridge crosses the Ma Wan Channel, linking Tsing Yi island on the east to Ma Wan island on the west. The bridge has become a tourist attraction and travelers can visit the nearby Lantau Link Visitors Centre, which displays models, photographs and videos of the bridge's construction process.
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London's iconic Millenium Bridge is a steel suspension footbridge crossing the River Thames and linking the City of London at St. Paul's Cathedral with the Tate Modern Gallery. Opened in 2000, the bridge was the first pedestrian bridge to be built over the Thames in more than a century.
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Where: Iwakuni, Japan
Built in 1673, Kintai Bridge is a wooden arch bridge that stood for 300 years without the use of metal nails in its construction. The bridge's wooden parts were carefully fitted together and bound with thick girders and metal belts. In 1950, it was damaged by flooding and reconstructed using metal nails. The bridge's five wooden arches are buffered by four stone piers, and the bridge spans 573 feet across the Nishiki River.
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Seri Wawasan Bridge
Where: Putrajaya, Malaysia
The Seri Wawasan Bridge has become one of Malaysia's iconic sights, thanks to its futuristic design resembling a ship's mast. The 787-foot-long bridge opened in 2003 and links Precinct 8 and Core Island in Putrajaya, Malaysia's federal administrative capital.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images30 of 30Next: The World's Most Amazing Buildings
Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge
Where: Lake Mead National Recreation Area, between Arizona and Nevada
Often called the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge, the Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge spans the Colorado River between Arizona and Nevada, overlooking the Hoover Dam. The arch bridge rises 840 feet above the river, making it the second highest bridge in the United States and the world's highest concrete arch bridge.
The World's Most Amazing BridgesThese structures showcase breathtaking feats of design around the globe