The majestic Sydney Harbour Bridge is certainly one of the most instantly recognisable bridges in the world. However, the iconic Coathanger is a mere infant when compared against some of the bridges around the world.
While this list is by no means exhaustive, we take a look at some of our favourite old-world bridges that have stood the test of time.
Khaju Bridge (Isfahan, Iran)
The breathtakingly beautiful Khaju Bridge (pictured above) was constructed around 1650 by Shah Abbas II of the Safavid Dynasty and served a dual purpose as a dam. The bridge spans around 132 metres in length, and features 23 arches, a sight especially dramatic when flooded with light at night. Over the centuries, the Khaju Bridge, straddling the Zayandeh River, has been a meeting place for its people, with a pedestrian access way connecting the Khaju quarter with the Zoarashtrian quarter on the opposite side of the river.
Ponte dei Sospiri/Bridge of Sighs (Venice, Italy)
The British poet Lord Byron once wrote: I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs, A palace and a prison on each hand. Byron’s stark line refers to an enclosed bridge of limestone built in 1602 that connects the Doge’s Palace with a former prison across the Rio de Palazzo in Venice. One of the theories behind its melodramatic name is that it came from the sighs of prisoners as they caught a last glimpse of freedom as they crossed over to the gaol. Another possible theory comes from a Venetian legend which promises eternal love to couples who kiss beneath the bridge in a gondola at sunset. Whatever the reason behind its name, the Bridge of Sighs is certainly a beautiful sight in the romantic, historic city of Venice.
Pont du Gard (Gard, France)
The Pont du Gard is a sight to behold in itself, but the three-storey bridge becomes even more impressive when one considers that the aqueduct was built sometime in the 1st Century AD by the Romans. The 50-metre high monument, which allows passage across the Gardon River, was originally constructed to provide water to the city of Nimes. The Pont du Gard was constructed with materials including soft limestone from a nearby quarry, breeze blocks and mortar. At its longest point, the ancient bridge spans 360 metres and stands as testament to the glory days of the Roman Empire, inspiring writers and artists through the ages.
Chapel Bridge/Kapellbrücke (Lucerne, Switzerland)
The Chapel Bridge of Lucerne was built in 1333 and was originally designed as part of the city’s fortifications, connecting the Luzerner Theatre to St Peter’s Chapel, from which the wooden foot bridge took its name. Although constructed during the Middle Ages, a series of artworks were commissioned for the bridge in the early 17th century, and painted by artist Hans Wagmann depicting scenes from local history and legends. A fire in 1993 unfortunately destroyed a large area of the 170-metre bridge and with it, some of its paintings. Reconstruction work to the bridge was completed the following year and the Chapel Bridge remains one of the most important historical icons of Lucerne and Switzerland.
Arkadiko/Kazarma Bridge (Argolis, Greece)
This humble Mycenaean bridge constructed around 1300 B.C. is believed to be the oldest arch bridge in the world still in use today. Situated on the Nauplion-Epidaurus highway, the Arkadiko Bridge was built using Cyclopean limestone boulders and measures 22metres long and 2.5meters wide. This bridge, linking the ancient cities of Tiryns and Epidaurus, was primarily erected for the passage of chariots. While the days of the chariot have long passed, this astounding bridge still remains and is used today by local villagers in the vicinity thousands of years later.
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