Whether it’s Renaissance architecture or futuristic design, Europe boasts many of the world’s most recognisable river crossings.
As a 180-metre-high, glass-bottomed suspension bridge opens to the public in China’s Shiniuzhai National Geological Park, I take a look at some of Europe’s perhaps lesser-known, but no less recognisable river crossings…
Bridge of Sighs, Venice
It may only be 11 metres wide but Venice’s Bridge of Sighs is widely regarded as one of the finest examples of bridge architecture worldwide. Built at the beginning of the 17th century from white limestone, this Renaissance bridge originally connected the city jail, situated for a time within the Doge’s Palace, with the new prison across the Rio di Palazzo, its name symbolising the ‘sighs’ emitted by prisoners as they caught their last glances of the outside world and said goodbye to freedom. Immortalised in poetry by Lord Byron, legend has it that if couples kiss whilst passing under the bridge at sunset, they will enjoy eternal love. Today it serves as one of Venice’s most photographed landmarks.
Blue Wonder Bridge, Dresden
Spanning the River Elbe and famous for its distinctive blue hue, Das Blaues Wunder dates back to the end of the 19th century and, at the time, was declared a ‘masterpiece of technology for it was recognised as being one of the longest bridges ever built not to be supported by pillars. One of the few landmarks in Dresden to have survived the ferocious bombing campaigns of World War II, the Blue Wonder measures 147 metres long and connects two of the city’s most affluent residential areas, Blasewitz and Loschwitz, amongst the most expensive districts in Europe at the turn of the 20th century.
Alamillo Bridge, Seville
Set just to the north of Seville’s historic centre, the striking Puente del Alamillo connects the city of Seville to the tiny Isla de la Cartuja, named after the cloistered Cartuja Monastery where Christopher Columbus once lived when planning his voyage to the west. Set amidst the mighty Guadalquivir River, this island was separated off from the mainland after the river was rerouted to avoid further flooding, yet was reconnected by the Alamillo Bridge in readiness for the 1992 World Fair, the venue of which was Cartuja Island. A cable-stayed bridge, the bright white river crossing measures 200 metres and is particularly recognisable for its 142-metre-tall pylon. For the best photo opportunity, head for the banks of the Meandro de San Jeronimo at night time, where you’ll see the bridge illuminated in light.
Triple Bridge, Ljubljana
The Slovenian capital is perhaps best known for its symbolic Dragon Bridge, yet another Ljubljana photo essential is Triple Bridge (Tromostovje), linking the Old Town with Prešeren Square. This bridge formerly served as a strategically important crossing point connecting the north-western European states with south-eastern Europe and the Balkans. Today, boasting attractive stone balustrades and lamps, Triple Bridge remains one of the city’s most distinctive and striking landmarks spanning the Ljubjanica River.
Eiffel Bridge, Girona
Spanning the River Onyar, the Eiffel Bridge is one of Girona’s most renowned landmarks, for it was built by Gustave Eiffel in 1827 prior to his eponymous Parisian tower. Officially known as the Pont Palanques Vermelles in Catalan, this red-hued pedestrian bridge is one of 11 river crossings in the city and situated alongside the pastel-coloured houses of the Historic Quarter overlooking the River Onyar, the view both of and from the bridge are quite unique.
Circle Bridge, Copenhagen
There’s due to an exciting new landmark arriving in the Danish capital later this year, with the installation of a fantastical, futuristic-looking Circle Bridge (Cirkelbroen), to be situated at the southern mouth of Christianshavn’s Canal along Copenhagen’s Inner Harbour (Inderhavnen). The 32-metre long swing bridge will comprise five staggered circular platforms of differing sizes, each with their own mast and three of which will be movable so as to make way for ships and other large sea vessels. Visually, the bridge is based on a sailing ship and was so designed to trace the history of Christianshavn and the culture surrounding canals.