These elegant, engineering enigmas suspend roadways, vehicles, people, and our disbelief off of oh-so-thin wires in order to bring land together, and thereby bring us together. Suspension bridges are a symbol of both unities and of the insuppressible will of man – able to stand the test of time for centuries in some cases. Their alluring slopes, towering towers, and a sea of lights combine with the powerful symbolism to create jaw-dropping, breath-taking, knock-your-socks-off beauty. But more than just metallic landmarks of beauty and symbolism, they make the daily commute far less hassle and they mean the budding traveler can experience more of the cities they visit and, subsequently, tick off more items from their BUCKiTDREAM lists!
We can put a bridge almost anywhere. We’ve got bridges that span rivers, that traverse mountain ranges, bridges over oceans, that connect countries and soar above jungles. So we’ve meticulously sought after the most beautiful suspension bridges in the world and gathered them here on a digital platter. All for you.
Golden Gate Bridge: San Francisco, United States
The most recognizable bridge in the world – as long as you recognize it! Built in 1937, it still stands strong and proud, a beacon of the prosperity it helped bring to the San Francisco Bay Area. For almost 40 years, it stood as the world’s longest and highest suspension bridge.
The Golden Gate Bridge’s international orange color increases its visibility to ships (apparently ship captains can only see things 4,199 ft long when colored a specific shade of orange!), and creates the sense that the bridge is a natural part of the warm, coastal landscape – some red-rock mountain above with blue waters and green hills below. Its distinct appearance, coupled with its impressive size, makes for quite the view, which is why it’s the most photographed bridge in the world.
Do not miss this sight!
Brooklyn Bridge: New York City, United States
A National Historic Landmark the Brooklyn Bridge is an iconic feature of New York. It took 600 workers a whopping 14 years to build, but when the Brooklyn Bridge opened in 1883 to connect Manhattan and – you guessed it – Brooklyn, it was the longest spanning suspension bridge in the world. 1,595 feet of cement, limestone, granite, steel and tarmac suspended over East River by four cables… It must have been quite the sight to behold; a symbol for the optimism of the time. And it still is.
The bridge was built with numerous passageways and compartments in its anchorages. The city rented out the vaults under the bridge’s Manhattan anchorage to fund the bridge. Interestingly, the vaults were used to store wine, due to ideal temperatures: 60 °F. Lean against the outside walling of the vaults, breathe deep and see if you can get a buzz!
Being the muse for more art than any other manmade structure in the United States, the bridge is what may be called “culturally dense”. Heavy hitters from every artistic avenue have taken inspiration – Andy Warhol, Georgia O’Keeffe, Walker Evans and Arthur Miller to name but a few.
Another interesting aspect of Brooklyn Bridge is its “love locks”, which can be found near the Manhattan Tower. Couples inscribe a date and their initials onto a lock, attach it to the bridge, and throw the keys into the water as a sign of their everlasting love. It’d be interesting to discover how many couples actually achieve everlasting love and how many are swimming in the East River looking for their keys… Regardless, we can appreciate the sentiment, so get yourself and someone you intend to love forever more to the Brooklyn Bridge and lock your love down!
Spoiler alert: the Department of Transportation has been known to cut the locks occasionally, so don’t blame your partner if you return and it’s no longer there.
Tsing Ma Bridge: Hong Kong, China
It stands as the longest suspension bridge for both rail and road traffic in the world and is named after the regions it attaches to Tsing Yi and Ma Wan. A bewildering interlacing of road and rail wrap, bend and wind along Tsing Yi as they approach the Tsing Ma Bridge, but just as they reach it the disarray dissipates into perfect order – serving as a massive, striking juxtaposition.
Definitely most impressive when seen by night, the entire bridge is lit up with warm, comforting yellow lights and the towers, illuminated from below, take on a soft psychedelic purple, light bouncing off the water below, and the glittering city and mountain peaks make for the perfect backdrop.
Head to the Lantau Link View Point and Visitors Centre located on the small island of Tsing Yi for the best views. There is a Visitor Center (Lantau Link Visitor Centre) and Viewing Platform located near the bridge’s Tsing Yi end.
From the Viewing Platform, one can also see the Ting Kau Bridge and Kap Shui Mun Bridge.
Akashi Kaikyō Bridge
The sinking of two ferries in the Akashi Strait (Kaikyō translates to “strait”) in 1955 killed 168 people and caused enough public outrage to convince the Japanese government to build a bridge over the notoriously treacherous strait between Kobe and Iwaya. And they didn’t take any shortcuts: it took two million workers ten years to construct the bridge, using 181,000 tons of steel (the steel cable used would circle the world seven times) and 1.4 million cubic meters of concrete.
The Akashi Kaikyō Bridge has remained the world’s longest bridge since its construction at a whopping 6,532 ft. Built in a typhoon region in which winds can reach monstrous speeds of up to 286 kph – don’t play Frisbee there -, as well as an earthquake region, its an engineering triumph the sight of which truly boggles the mind and leaves you with a deep sense of respect for the resilience and inventiveness of mankind.
The Akashi-Kaikyo bridge has a total of 1,737 illumination lights: 1,084 for the main cables, 116 for the main towers, 405 for the girders and 132 for the anchorages; the amassment of which provides one of the most astounding night-time views in the world. This accounts for the bridge’s moniker, “Pearl Bridge”.
On the main cables, three highlight-discharge tubes are mounted in the colors red, green and blue. The RGB model and computer technology make for a variety of combinations. If you can, time it so your trip coincides with national or regional holidays as the bridge becomes a brilliant light display with 28 patterns.
Sidu River Bridge, Badong County, Hubei, China
High in the mountains of the Sichuan Basin, the Sidu River bridge stands over a deep valley of the Sidu River at about 1600 ft, making it the highest bridge in the world. It should go without saying, if you have acrophobia, avoid this one. Otherwise, the view from the bridge is guaranteed to draw exclamations of delight from the viewer, and become forever imprinted in the mind.
Alright, that brings us to the end of our trip! We’ve explored several countries and two continents in search of the biggest and worst suspension bridges in the world. From the longest to the highest, to the most culturally significant, they each have something that sets them apart, but what unites them is their inspiring beauty.