When you think of architecture and impressive buildings and structures in Europe, most likely you'll think of the amazing churches and castles throughout the continent but Europe and the UK are also home to some magnificent bridges, all the result of ingenious building techniques, often way ahead of their time. Here are ten of the best (in no particular order).
Pont du Gard, Nimes (France)
Built almost 2,000 years ago by the Romans, the acqueduct was used to carrry water to Nimes from the springs at Uzes, 50 kilometres away. It is believed the acequeduct was in continual use for 400-500 years. At 49 metres high, the Pont du Gard was the highest bridge ever built by the Romans and is still an impressive site today.
Tower Bridge, London (UK)
An iconic symbol of London, Tower Bridge is a combined bascule and suspension bridge spanning the River Thames. Completed in 1894, Tower Bridge's unique design includes two walkways joining the top of the towers on each side of the river. The 'bascule' system allows the lower deck (the roadway) to be raised to allow boats to pass by.
Bridge of Sighs, Venice (Italy)
Named by Lord Byron in the 19th Century, the Bridge of Sighs connects the old prisons of Venice to the interrogation rooms in the Doge's Palace. It was so named as Byron suggested the prisoners would sign at the final view of Venice through the Bridge's windows before being incarcerated. The white limestone bridge was built in 1602.
Millau Viaduct, Millau (France)
The most ambitious bridge project ever undertaken, the Millau Viaduct is also one of the most successful. Spanning 2,460 metres across the Tarn Gorge, the design was intended to give those crossing it the feeling of 'flying above the clouds'. As the highest road deck bridge in Europe, rising 270 metres above the valley below at its highest point, it certainly does that. (I found one of the best places to take photos of the Millau Viaduct - read about it here.)
Ponte Vecchio, Florence (Italy)
A Medieval stone closed arch bridge, the Ponte Vecchio crosses the Arno River in Florence. The brightly coloured bridge originally housed butchers shops but today's tenants are mostly jewellers, artists and souvenir shops. The current bridge was built in 1345 after previous bridges had been destroyed by flood and fire.
Charles Bridge, Prague (Czech Republic)
Charles Bridge is one of Prague's major attractions and with 30 statues of religious and political figures installed on the bridge, it is more like an open-air gallery than just a way to cross the river. Built in the Gothic style, construction started in 1357 and finished at the beginning of the 15th Century. It was the only means of crossing Prague's Vltava River until 1841. The bridge is 516 metres long and rests on 16 arches.
Oresund Bridge, Copenhagen (Denmark) to Malmo (Sweden)
The Oresund Bridge is a combined bridge/tunnel and railway that connects Copenhagen in Denmark with Malmo in Sweden across the Oresund Strait. It is the longest road and rail bridge in Europe, measuring 7,845 metres. The artificial island of Peberholm was constructed from, sand, clay, stone and lime excavated from the Øresund seabed during the dredging of the channel to support the tunnel and bridge piers.
Vasco da Gama Bridge, Sacavem (Portugal)
Europe's longest bridge at 17.2 kilometres, the Vasco da Gama bridge spans the Tagus River, near the Portugese capital of Lisbon. The bridge was built to ease congestion on Libson's other major bridge, 25 de Abril bridge, and carries six road lanes.
Chain Bridge, Budapest (Hungary)
A suspension bridge spanning thge River Danube, the Szechenyi Chain Bridge links Buda and Pest, the eastern and western sides of Budapest. Opened in 1879, construction of the 375 metre long bride took nine years and was regarded as one of the world's modern engineering wonders.
Magdeburg Water Bridge, Magdeburg (Germany)
The Magdeburg Water Bridge is a canal built above the Elbe River. It was built to allow ships to connect between the Elbe-Havel Canal and the Mitellandkanal without the need to go through the existing lock system which involved a journey of an extra 12 kilometres. The Madgeburg Water Bridge is the longest navigable aqueuct in the world, measuring 918 metres. It was completed in 2003.
These are just 10 of Europe's best bridges. Which bridges do you think should be included amongst Europe's best?
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