There are literally hundreds of bridges crisscrossing the River Thames, and most of the iconic ones can be found in London itself. Arguably the most famous of the London bridges is Tower Bridge, built in the late 1800s over the span of eight years and considered the most modern bridge of its time due to its ability to open up to allow shipping traffic to pass underneath. Its famous gothic towers seem to guard the entrance to the city, though with over 40,000 crossings every day, it's more welcoming than it may appear. Tours of the tower can be booked directly through their tourism website, and while it's suggested that you wear comfortable shoes due to the climb up and down the tower's many stairs, there is an elevator, making it accessible to all.
Not all famous bridges are crowded and jam-packed with tourists. The Pont du Gard is one such example, located between Nimes and Avignon in the countryside of the south of France, this Roman aqueduct was built in the first century A.D. to carry water over a distance of 50 kilometers. When I saw the Pont du Gard, we were in the area as part of a film shoot, and I couldn't think of anything more appropriate than arriving there in an iconic sage green Citroen 2CV.
The bridge itself is tremendous to see in person. Arches span across the horizon as far as the eye can see. The surrounding site is a respite from tourists on the bridge itself; tranquil waters bordered by vast green spaces offer a chance to unfurl a blanket and take in a picnic or simply relax and breathe in the fresh country air. For those who didn't pack a picnic, there's an onsite restaurant offering lunch on weekends — just ensure you book in advance.
Nothing quite prepares you for that first initial view of Ronda, the town seemingly gripping the stone cliff face with iron claws, determined not to let go. Located between Seville and Malaga, Ronda is a must-see Andalusian jewel of a town, and the Ronda Bridge is one of its most popular sites. It was built to connect the old Moorish-era town with the new town and spans a gorge over 700 meters deep across the Guadalevin River.
In 1734, architects Jose Garcia and Juan Camacho quickly built the first "old bridge" to unite the two parts of the town over the deep gorge using one arch. Unfortunately, this old bridge couldn't handle the number of people, wagons and livestock crossing it every day. It collapsed, killing 50 people. By 1759, a newer, stronger bridge was built by architect Antonio Diaz Machuca, who is best known for inventing the machinery necessary to lift the enormous rocks from the ravine up to help build the bridge. Work started on the bridge in 1759 and ended in 1793.
Today, hikers can climb down trails into the ravine for their perfect photo op. We walked a short way down in time to marvel at one of Spain's most iconic bridges during a picture-perfect sunset. The sky lit up the stone bridge in shades of rose gold, purples, and oranges, making this place even more magical and ethereal than anyone could imagine possible.
Western Europe certainly doesn't have exclusivity over famous bridges. A key historical landmark can be found in the town of Mostar in Bosnia. The name Mostar is itself derived from the local word for bridge, taken from Mostari, who were the bridge keepers of the old bridge.
The original bridge was built in the 16th Century during Ottoman rule and served to connect two parts of the city by spanning the Neretva River. Sadly the bridge fell victim to warring factions during the Bosnian War and was destroyed in 1993. Incredibly, and painstakingly, the bridge was reconstructed using as many of the original materials as possible, a testament to what can be achieved when various teams work toward a unified goal. Reopened in 2004, it's now a dedicated UNESCO World Heritage Site celebrating the multicultural background of the town.
The summer months bring an annual diving festival to this bridge, initially restricted to the locals who were familiar with the environment, though this has also been part of an extreme sports event in recent years. Mostar is reachable as a day trip from Sarajevo or Dubrovnik and is worth the trip for historic reasons alone.
When you think of the most famous bridges in the world, the Golden Gate Bridge in California will almost certainly come to mind. It's America's most iconic bridge and it spans the Golden Gate and connects San Francisco with Marin County. When it was built in 1937 at a length of 1.7 miles, it was considered the longest and tallest suspension bridge in the world. Often described as the most photographed bridge in the world, its orange frame reflects sunlight to make it visibly glow against a stunning backdrop of low-hanging clouds and a navy blue Pacific Ocean on a beautiful afternoon.
The bridge is also remarkably accessible given its position and height of 746 feet. Cars are joined by cyclists and pedestrians in making the crossing. Visitors can join tours of the bridge with a multitude of operators offering something for everyone. Active guests can take a guided bike tour across the bridge, while some of the most spectacular views are undoubtedly those taken in from the deck of a boat.
We found ourselves on one such crossing as we searched out the wineries of nearby Sonoma. Leaving a chilly, foggy San Francisco in the middle of June, we crossed the bridge into fertile, sunny Marin County — and seemingly changed seasons in the space of 10 minutes. Blue skies and warm sunshine greeted us as we toured Sonoma until our designated driver called time. As we made our return from Marin County, we were greeted by another one of those indelible scenes. The Golden Gate Bridge greeted us, and in the distance, we could see dense fingers of fog clawing their way down the surrounding hills, forming a physical curtain halfway across the bridge. A dramatic scene by which to remember this bridge, this connector of not just land but of moods and atmosphere.
Bridge architecture is particularly jaw-dropping due to its beauty and ingenuity. From the world’s tallest bridge to its most modern, & unique, the planet is full of bridges waiting to inspire and connect you.
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