There’s no particular pressure on bridges to be attractive or interesting. Most of us use them to cross rivers, valleys, or railways, and if we get to the other side in one piece, they’ve done their job.
But that hasn’t stopped some designers from pushing the boat out and crafting bridges both weird and wonderful. Here are some of the strangest – from a mountaintop masterpiece in Malaysia to a relic of Renaissance Florence.
More reminiscent of Lord of the Rings than anything real, this fantasy thoroughfare connects two cable car stations atop a mountain resort in Vietnam, and is famed far more for its own appearance than the fabulous views it was built to provide.
The bridge’s iconic hands went semi-viral on completion in 2018, and, according to the architect, were inspired by “the world of gods, and giant things”. They’re purely aesthetic and provide no structural support. They achieve their mossy, weather-beaten look with colorized fiberglass and wire.
Chengyang Wind & Rain Bridge
What do you get if you cross a small stone bridge across a river with a medieval Chinese castle? Officially termed the Chengyang Wind & Rain Bridge, this three-story structure incorporates piers, pavilions, and 19 verandas, and was built from wood and stone without a single nail.
Despite its traditional appearance, the bridge was actually completed in 1912, and in 2012 local people celebrated its centenary with a feast that stretched its entire length.
Quite literally ‘the Bridge of 33 Arches’, this effortlessly elegant piece of Persian architecture is beautiful during the day, but even better after dark when its brightly-lit vaults reflect perfectly in the pristine waters below.
Built at the turn of the 17th century from yellow bricks and limestone, the 297-meter structure remains a popular meeting place for evening walks, street music, and various water sports.
London built a Ferris wheel next to a river, so Tianjin went further and built a wheel over one. Half-river-crossing-half-funfair, the wheel straddles the bridge with geometric precision, and stretches 120 meters above the rushing waters and commuters below.
By night the wheel lights up in vibrant shades of neon, and can accommodate almost 800 passengers each hour.
A medieval masterpiece overburdened with buildings perched precariously above the river, this bridge-cum-village in Florence long hosted the city’s meat market, but the stench grew so great that a royal decree replaced the butchers with jewelers sometime in the 16th century.
Unseen by passing tourists, the eastern side contains the Vasari Corridor, a secret passage commissioned by Cosimo de Medici to connect the Pitti Palace with the Uffizi.
Langkawi Sky Bridge
Soaring above the forest canopy – itself soaring above the vertiginous landscape of Pulau Langkawi island – this giant walkway must be among the most architecturally incongruous on Earth.
Measuring 125 meters long and 660 meters high, the $1.2 million structure adorns the peak of the Machinchang mountain, and was airlifted up piece by piece between 2003 and 2004. Today it’s mostly used by tourists, who share the panoramic views with sea eagles, brahminy kites, and macaques.
Most river bridges try to avoid the rushing waters below, but Banpo Bridge in South Korea instead leans into its aquatic surroundings. Both sides of the structure are lined with hundreds of nozzles that exude a curtain of water all along the structure’s considerable length.
A bridge-cum-fountain might be interesting enough on its own, but after dark, the spray lights up with all the colors of the rainbow.
An anti-bridge, an inverted bridge, or simply an aquatic trench, it’s difficult to know what language to use to describe the Moses Bridge, a little way from the Dutch village of Halsteren. Almost invisible from a distance, the walkway has been built downwards into the water, and derives its name from the Bible story in which Moses parts the Red Sea.