Every place we travel has its landmarks, and for nearly every city on a significant river, at least some of those landmarks turn out to be bridges.
Unlike statues and monuments, they’re (almost always…one exception below) built for utility, even if they are beautiful. In some cases, they are so well-known that they instantly identify the city, such as the Brooklyn Bridge (above) and London’s Tower Bridge (below).
In some cities , a great deal of history has depended on bridges; without them, Buda and Pest (below)would not have become one city of Budapest.
And Venice without bridges is just unthinkable. The canals are the first thing you think of…but there are bridges across them everywhere.
These are not the famous ones, of course…below, here’s the Rialto Bridge, the one everyone knows, seen peeking down a crowded street and then in its full glory.
Modern bridges are marvels of engineering, but so are some of the ancient ones. Here’s the Pont du Gard, built to bring fresh water from the mountains to the Roman city of Nimes, France. Amazingly, it was on the covers of both my Latin and French textbooks in high school!
We pass over many bridges without knowing who designed and built them, especially the ancient ones, but some are strongly associated with their engineers. The Brooklyn Bridge and the Roeblings come to mind, as well as Gustave Eiffel’s graceful arched Maria Pia bridge at Porto, Portugal.
and its flattering imitator, the Luis I bridge, just downstream.
For all their usefulness, sometimes a bridge’s beauty can be just ornamental. Here are two examples; the famous Japanese bridge Monet had built in his water gardens (see Painting with Flowers here on TravelGumbo) or the beautiful stone bridge in Dijon, whose only purpose is to provide a view in a park and fountain dedicated to Henri Darcy, who created Dijon’s first modern water supply system in 1833, and was influential throughout France.
Enough words; this started out to be a gallery, not a blog! So here are some more pictures, and there are even a few more than that in the slideshow below.
The bridges of Paris are many and varied, from nearly-ancient to very modern. But there's also a secret history: in the early 19th century, Paris had several suspension bridges--but all were removed by the 1850s. Watch Gumbo for that story in the future!
Lyon also built a suspension bridge around 1840, but it survived, although damaged in World War II. Here's the Passerelle du College, built because the only high school in town was on the other side!
Verona has two especially interesting bridges. The Roman-era Ponte della Pietra, or Stone Bridge, dates to 100 BC. In the 13th century, the eastern portion was “modernized” by the Scala family rulers of Verona, and other modifications took place in the 1800s. Partly destroyed by retreating Germans in 1945, it was rebuilt using the salvaged original materials. A close look today shows Roman work on the left, Renaissance on the right, and small indications of other styles between.
The other bridge, the Ponte Castelvecchio, is a fortified bridge linking the fortified castle with an escape route to the north for its builder, another of the unpopular Scala family members. It, too, was destroyed by the Germans, and was rebuilt faithfully—except for one tower which had been destroyed by the French in Napoleon’s time.
Lisbon’s April 25 bridge is another name-changer: It was named for Portuguese dictator Francisco Salazar shortly before the overthrow of his regime on…you guessed it, April 25. The resemblance to San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge is not a coincidence.
Venice again…but no stones…and Porto at night…and a web spanning the fjord near Bergen, Norway.
And here's a bridge with a fascinating history, featured a while ago on TravelGumbo. To learn its story, see PortMoresby's article HERE
Have some favorite bridges? Please post them here, and tell us about them. You can attach photos to your comments below.