Bridges are not made purely to cross from one side to the other. They have lives, cultures, mountains, and seas embrace each other.
Let alone their function; they are characterized and iconized by their architecture, design, and creation process. They are almost like jewels hanging around the necks of diverse geographies. We have put together a list of the world’s most magnificent, notable, and interesting bridges for you.
MOSTAR BRIDGE, BOSNIA HERZEGOVINA
Kanuni (The Magnificent) Sultan Süleyman decides to have a stone bridge built on the River Neretva to replace the existing wooden drawbridge. He assigns Mimar Hayrüddin, a student of Mimar (The Architect) Sinan, to construct the bridge and sends him to Mostar in 1557. The bridge, which was completed in 1566 with a length of 30 meters, a height of 24 meters and a width of 4 meters, has a special place among the Ottoman period stone bridges. The original stones of the bridge that were damaged by the river water and during the bombings were not suitable to be reused; however, the stone quarry, where the original stones were quarried and which was closed later, was reopened only to provide new stones for the faithful restoration of the bridge. The engineering wonder of its age was included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2005.
KHAJU BRIDGE, IRAN
A fairy tale appearance… This elegant stone and tile bridge has the two sides of the River Zayanderud meet. It was built by the order of Shah Abbas the II in the 17th century. Some of the two-tier arches are ornate with painted tiles. The bridge contains the striking Persian architecture that reflects directly the period when the Safavid Dynasty (1501-1736) had reached its summit and its cultural influence. The top tier was reserved for the passage of horse carriages and pedestrians during its initial years. The bottom tier and steps are where the people find shelter from the sun and hum songs in hot summer days. The octagonal pavilion at the center serves as an art gallery and a tea-house. Seeing the bridge both in daylight and at night when it is illuminated is a pleasure. Having sluice gates under its arches, the Khaju is also known as “the world’s multi-functional” bridge. Although water doesn’t run under the bridges in the river when the flood gates are closed, it is still pleasant to mingle with the crowd at the parks surrounding the bridge in Isfahan.
PONTE DI RIALTO, ITALY
When historical bridges are mentioned, it is among those that come to mind first. The Rialto Bridge, which was built as a permanent backup for three wooden bridges and a bridge reserved for boats on the Grand Canal, was constructed between 1588 and 1591. The 7.5-meter arch of the bridge is designed to allow passage for galleys and built on 12 thousand wooden posts that still support the gigantic bridge after 400 years. The Architect Antonio da Ponte had to compete with distinguished designers such as Michelangelo and Palladio in order to secure the job.
PONTE VECCHIO, ITALY
It was very common for houses and shops to take place in the second tier of a bridge centuries ago. Ponte Vecchio is a significant example which has survived until today. It is located on the narrowest point of the River Arno in Florence. There used to be butcher shops and fisher monger’s stores at the bridge in old times. Later, only goldsmiths and jewelers were allowed to own stores at the bridge. The bridge was built originally in the Roman period, but it was rebuilt following irreparable damage due to a flood in the 14th century. A second tier where houses and workshops took place was added to the stone arch in 1565. It is among the rare bridges that the Germans could not destroy while escaping in the Second World War. No itinerary to Florence is counted complete without spending some time on this medieval bridge, which is among the world’s most impressive historical bridges.
CHARLES BRIDGE, THE CZECH REPUBLIC
It is historical, stone, and impressive. The Charles Bridge connects the Old Town and Malá Strana of Prague with all its Gothic might on the River Vltava. The bridge, construction of which was completed in the early 1400s is made completely out of stone and almost 621 meters long and 10 meters wide. The most impressive aspect of the bridge which is settled on 16 arches is its ornaments that consist of 30 Baroque style sculptures and figurines, most of which are erected around 1700 and some of which are already replaced with their replicas. The striking view of the Prague Castle from the bridge is breathtaking.