10 of the Most Beautiful Bridges in the World

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Holiday travel will bring millions of people back and forth across bridges over the next few days. Most of them, we’ll be honest, are boring, pedestrian ones that barely deserve notice. Seen from many a car and bus window, I-95’s span across the Delaware River gets a nod for height and length, but offers only views Delaware and New Jersey’s grim industrial decay. So, in other words, nothing to write home about. On the opposite end of the spectrum: the 10 striking feats of engineering combined with picturesque locations that we’ve compiled after the jump.

The Öresund Bridge (or Øresund Bridge, if you’re Danish) connects Danes to their Scandinavian neighbors in Sweden. Finished back in 2000, today the bridge provides a connection for commuters between bedroom communities in Malmö, Sweden, populated by recently-arrived Danish professionals taking advantage of lower housing prices, and Copenhagen, Denmark’s bustling capital. Designed by international consulting firm Arup, it’s the longest rail and roadway bridge in the world. Crossing the bridge can be a pricey proposition, however. A two axle car will set you back 29 euros, or about 40 bucks.

The Bosphorous Bridge in Istanbul joined Europe with Asia in 1973. British civil engineers Sir Gilbert Roberts and William Brown designed the bridge along with help from a Cleveland-based consulting firm.

The Nanpu bridge in Shanghai saves space by spiraling around itself. Buckland and Taylor, a Canadian engineering consulting firm, helped design the bridge along with municipal engineers and architects in Shanghai in 1991. If you ever wondered what the Asian Development Bank is doing all day, here’s an example.

The Jerusalem Chords Bridge, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, will soon provide light rail service to and from Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station.

Designed by engineer David B. Steinman, the Mackinac Island Bridge joins Michigan with, well, Michigan, specifically the state’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas.

Completed in 1916, the Chengyang Wind-Rain Bridge over the Sanjiang River, situated in the Dong Minority Region, is one of the final creations of Imperial Chinese architecture. Bonus points for that fact that it was constructed from timber without using any nails or rivets.

Commissioned by Shah Abbas II in the 17th century, the Khaju Bridge across the Zayandeh River in Isfahan, Iran connects the Zoroastrian Quarter with the rest of the city. And it also functions as a dam! Recent renovations to the structure have created drama among Iranian architects.

Here it is, the tallest bridge in the world, standing 1,125 feet tall and crossing a valley in southern France. French engineer Michel Virlogeux and British architect Norman Foster designed this soaring example of Franco-Anglo cooperation, dedicating the structure in 2004.

The Donghai Bridge in China, which opened in 2005, connects Shanghai with Yangshan, a fabricated off-shore port. Until the completion of the Hangzhou Bay Bridge, also in Shanghai, the Donghai was the longest over-sea bridge in the world, measuring more than 20 miles from start to finish. The Halcrow Group, a multinational design firm, drew up plans for the expansive structure.

Designed by New York architect Vito Acconci, the Aiola Island Bridge in Graz, Austria bridges the banks of the Mur River. The glassy structure, which opened in 2003, also houses a bar, a sunbathing area and a coffee house.