Transformative function in Germany
In their most basic form, bridges help people get from point A to point B. Yet sometimes – like in the case of the Rakotz bridge in Kromlau, Germany (pictured) – the structure can transform the very landscape around it and become a work of art.
We went looking for some of the world’s most beautiful bridgesand found plenty of nominations from users on the question-and-answer site Quora.com. Here are a few of their selections, remarkable for their physical beauty, architectural ingenuity and harmony with their surroundings.
Spanning the sky in Malaysia
Architect Mayur Kanaiya gave special props to the Langkawi Sky Bridge, a 125m-long curving cable bridge atop Gunung Mat Cincang mountain on Pulau Langkawi island. “The curving bridge deck allows visitors an intimate experience of the forest canopy and wildlife,” said Kanaiya. “It’s a great example of treading lightly on the land.”
A natural wonder in India
Instead of bricks, mortar or even standard planks of wood, the village of Cherrapunji in the state of Meghalaya – known as one of the wettest places in the world – builds bridges out of tree roots. The local War-Khasis tribe learned long ago how to tame the roots of the native ficus to grow in a certain direction, using bamboo as support. Some of the bridges are more than 30m long and can support the weight of 50 people, said Ravi Kodakandla, a Quora user from Hyderabad, India.
Going below ground in the Netherlands
While most bridges cross above water, the sunken bridge at Fort de Roovere near the village of Halsteren sinks just below it. Architecture student Wu Zhuoyi nominated the bridge because it takes visitors through a moat. The walls function like a dam to keep the water out and the structure blends seamlessly with its surroundings, remaining invisible from a distance.
Acrobatics on display in London
Forget the drawbridge. In London, the 12m-long Rolling Bridge curls to one side to let boats through the Grand Union Canal at Paddington Basin. “Its eight steel and timber hinged sections will curl up until the two ends of the bridge meet, forming an octagonal shape,” said Koen Kas, an entrepreneur from Belgium. “Every Friday at noon, the bridge performs its acrobatics for admiring crowds.”
The tenacity of mankind in Yemen
Mechanical engineer Achilleas Vortselas had a special affection for stone bridges. “No modern bridge can compare in grace with traditional stone arch bridges,” he said. “Stone bridges often demonstrate the tenacity of mankind to overcome physical obstacles, even with modest technical means. Shaharah Bridge in Yemen is a marvellous case of that.”