In 2018 we’re making a 102-day journey from Sydney to London, sailing from one iconic bridge to another. In anticipation of this voyage-of-a-lifetime, we’ve compiled a list of the most beautiful and iconic bridges in the world.
Bridges are so much more than a way to get from Point A to Point B. A bridge does not have to be the longest or tallest in the world to be iconic. Some of the most unique bridges in the world are small in size but rich in history. A well-designed bridge adds character to a city.
How many of these sixteen bridges have you visited?
Sydney Harbour Bridge in Sydney
When you picture Sydney, Australia, we bet you picture the city’s famous opera house and a large, steel bridge arching across the dazzling harbor. It’s nicknamed “The Coathanger” because of its arched design, which was inspired by New York’s Hell Gate Bridge.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge carries rail, vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic across the harbor. But the best way to experience it has to be the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb – it’s on our list of must-do activities in Sydney!
Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
The Golden Gate Bridge is said to be the most photographed bridge in the world, and we can see why. The dazzling orange suspension bridge is an emblem of San Francisco. There’s nothing like walking across it – or sailing beneath it, like the Azamara Quest did in February 2014.
The Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937 and is considered a marvel of modern engineering to this day. The orange hue was originally just a sealant – the bridge was supposed to be painted with black and yellow stripes.
Ponte di Rialto in Venice
The Rialto Bridge is one of four bridges spanning Venice’s Grand Canal. Chances are if you’ve been to Venice, you’ve stood on this bridge and watched the gondolas pass beneath you.
This crossing began as a pontoon bridge called Ponte della Moneta in 1181 and was replaced by a wooden bridge in 1255. It was eventually renamed, due to its connection with the nearby Rialto Market. After a fire and two collapses, Antonio da Ponte redesigned the bridge to be built with stone. By 1591, construction of the Rialto Bridge we know today was complete.
15 July Martyrs Bridge (Also Known As Bosphorus Bridge) in Istanbul
The Bosphorus Bridge is the most famous of three bridges that span the Bosphorus Strait. The strait divides Europe and Asia, with the bridge connecting the Ortaköy neighborhood of Istanbul in Europe with the Beylerbeyi, neighborhood of Istanbul in Asia.
Since 2007 the bridge has been illuminated at night by a computerized LED system of changing colors and patterns.
The Helix in Singapore
The Helix in Singapore’s famous Marina Bay is a pedestrian bridge that links Marina Center and Marina South. The bridge has four viewing platforms and completes a walkway around all of Marina Bay.
A team of architects and engineers from Australia and Singapore designed The Helix, which was inspired by the structure of DNA. It is most beautiful at night when Marina Bay is most dazzling. Don’t miss Wonder Full, the 15-minute long light and laser show the Marina Bay Sands puts on each night.
Ponte Vecchio in Florence
Ponte Vecchio, which translates to “Old Bridge” in English, is the oldest and most famous bridge spanning Florence’s Arno River. The current structure dates back to 1345 when it was rebuilt following a flood. In fact, it was the only bridge across the Arno that was not destroyed by fleeing Germans during WWII.
For centuries the bridge has been lined with shops. Initially the bridge was home to butchers and fishmongers – as well as the accompanying unpleasant odors. In 1593 Ferdinand I decreed that only goldsmiths and jewelers could have shops on the Ponte Vecchio. Today, you will still find beautiful jewelry sold there – but you’ll pay for the location.
Brooklyn Bridge in New York City
The iconic Brooklyn Bridge connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Completed in 1883, it was the first steel-wire suspension bridge constructed. Though it’s technically a suspension bridge, it uses an innovative hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridge design.
The bridge’s wide pedestrian lane for walking and bicycling makes it a popular tourist attraction – more than 4,000 pedestrians and 3,100 cyclists cross it each day! Budget about 30 minutes to an hour to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, and then spend some time exploring New York’s hipster paradise.
Queen Emma Bridge in Willemstad
This Willemstad bridge is a pontoon bridge, which means it floats. It connects the Punda and Otrobanda quarters of Curaçao’s capital city and hinges open to allow ships to pass. When the bridge is open, ferries spring into service to help pedestrians get to and fro.
Willemstad is a charming city to visit, and one of the joys of visiting is relaxing at a café in Punda and watching the bridge – also known as “Our Swinging Old Lady” – accommodate the ships of St. Anna Bay.
Magere Brug (Also Known As Skinny Bridge) in Amsterdam
Amsterdam boasts more than 1200 bridges, but the white-coated “Skinny Bridge” is the city’s most iconic. You may recognize it from films, including the 1971 James Bond flick Diamonds Are Forever. The bridge is lit at night, making it one of the most romantic spots in Amsterdam.
According to local legend, the bridge was named after the magere zussen, “skinny sisters” – two wealthy sisters who lived on either side of the Amstel River and had the narrow bridge built to make it easier to visit one another.
Dragon Bridge in Ubud
The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary of Ubud, Bali, is a bucket-list destination for many. Officially called Mandala Wisata Wanara Wana, the jungle houses three temples and a band of over 600 Balinese macaques. (The monkeys have notoriously sticky fingers, so leave your valuables at home.)
The elaborate Dragon Bridge is a highlight of the forest. It crosses a gorge in the middle of the park, cutting through a massive tree and leading to the Holy Bathing Temple.
Zubizuri in Bilbao
The bridge’s curved white design resembles the backbone of a fish and complements the modern flair of the museum itself. The color white represents the rebirth and renewal of Bilbao, ushered in by the museum’s opening in 1997.
Bridge of Sighs in Venice
The Bridge of Sighs is Venice’s other most famous bridge – in fact, designed by Antonio Contino, nephew of Rialto Bridge designer Antonio da Ponte. Local legend says that lovers will be granted eternal happiness if they kiss on a gondola beneath the Bridge of Sighs at sunset, as the bells of St. Mark’s Campanile toll.
The enclosed white limestone bridge connects the New Prison to the interrogation rooms of Doge’s Palace. Convicts would get their last look at Venice from the bridge before being imprisoned. The name comes from Lord Byron, suggesting prisoners would sigh at the bittersweet final view.
25 de Abril Bridge in Lisbon
Two San Francisco bridges inspired the 25 de April Bridge’s design. It is painted the same “International Orange” color as the Golden Gate Bridge, while the design is similar to the Bay Bridge. (And it was built by the same company as the Bay Bridge.)
The name commemorates the Carnation Revolution, a 1974 military coup in Lisbon that overthrew the Estado Novo fascist regime and returned democracy to Portugal. Though it was a military-led coup, the movement quickly evolved into civil resistance. Almost no shots were fired, and carnations were put in the muzzles of rifles and pinned to the uniforms of officers.
Tsing Ma Bridge in Hong Kong
The Tsing Ma Bridge connects two islands in Hong Kong: Tsing Yi and Ma Wan. It carries both vehicular and rail traffic and has the largest span of any bridge carrying rail traffic.
The bridge has become a landmark in Hong Kong thanks to its scenic location – don’t miss the Lantau Link Visitor Centre and Viewing Platform on Tsing Yi Island. From there, you can also see the Ting Kau Bridge and Kap Shui Mun Bridge.
Pont Alexandre III in Paris
Thirty-seven bridges cross the Seine River in Paris, but the Pont Alexandre III is renowned for being the most beautiful and ornate in the city. That’s just one reason it’s included on our list of must-visit spots in Paris – the other reason being that it provides a stunning view of the Eiffel Tower.
The Beaux-Arts style bridge was built between 1896 and 1900 and is decorated with cherubs, nymphs, winged horses, and Art Nouveau lamps. It’s made appearances in many films, including the 1985 James Bond movie A View To Kill and 2011’s Midnight In Paris (a favorite flick of travel lovers).
Webb Bridge in Melbourne
At first glance, you might think this bridge is called the Web Bridge, given its design resembles a spider web. In fact, you’ll find it commonly referred to by both names. But the official name is Webb Bridge, as the construction reused remaining sections of the Webb Rail Bridge.
The bridge was actually designed to look like a Koori eel trap and is part of a Melbourne public art project. The award-winning bridge is a pedestrian and cyclist link from the Yarra’s Edge residential neighborhood to the Docklands suburb.
London Tower Bridge
London Tower Bridge is one of over 30 bridges that cross the Thames River in London. Opened in 1894, it has become a symbol of the city along with the nearby Tower of London. The bridge deck is accessible to cars and pedestrians, while there is an admission fee for the Tower Bridge Exhibition (that includes the bridge’s twin towers, the new glass floor walkways, and the Victorian engine room).
This iconic London landmark is also where we’ll conclude our 2018 World Journey, with an overnight stay in the heart of the city.
You can see so many of these incredible feats of architecture and design during our World Journey, along with much, much more. It’s going to be an unforgettable travel experience.
Are you excited for your next Azamara voyage?
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