‘If you told me when I was 25 that I’d end up writing about must-see European bridges, I’d have laughed in your face. And yet, here we are…
In defence of my 40-year-old self, I have seen some *awesome* feats of engineering on my travels. These are my 8 must-see European bridges…’
Stari Most, Mostar
Crossing the banks of the Neretva River, the Stari Most has quite a tragic past. It was largely destroyed by Croatian forces during fighting back in 1993 after having stood in the same spot for more than 400 years. It was reconstructed after the war and reopened in 2004.
The original bridge was designed by Mimar Sinan and is a fine example of Islamic architecture from the Ottoman period. Sin años other works include some of the finest mosques in Turkey and the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. He even had his design concepts incorporated in the construction of the Taj Mahal.
The bridge and the Old Town of Mostar in which it stands are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Ponte Vecchio, Florence
Half-bridge, half shopping centre, this medieval stone bridge spans the Arno River in the historic Italian city of Florence. Characterised by its three main arches, this is the only bridge in Florence that the Nazis didn’t destroy. It’s alleged that Hitler thought it too pretty.
Let’s face it, that might be the only decent decision the man ever made.
Anyway, it’s a gorgeous bridge to take a walk along. It houses a host of pretty stores selling high-end jewellery and various trinkets. As seems to happen along many bridges, visitors began attaching padlocks to the structure, but these have been removed.
Warning: There’s a hefty fine in place for anyone caught in the act of ‘Padlock Attachment’. Yes, I’m sure that’s definitely a thing…
Stag Bridge, Czech Republic
This stone bridge is the oldest in the Czech Republic (with the Charles Bridge in Prague taking the second spot). It is also known as the Pisek (from the city in which it stands),
It’s also one of the oldest of all European bridges. Built in the 13th Century, the bridge spans the Otava River. The bridge was damaged in severe flooding back in 2002 but has since been reinforced with iron and concrete.
Forth Rail Bridge, Edinburgh/Fife
Scotland has three iconic bridges over the Firth of Forth, linking Edinburgh with Fife. This bad boy is solely for the use of trains. I feel the name rather gives it away…
I sometimes forget about this bridge. This is because I’m Scottish and I’m so accustomed to seeing it, I take it for granted. It’s been voted Scotland’s best man-made wonder. The Forth Rail Bridge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When opened in 1890, it was the world’s longest cantilever bridge and the first major crossing constructed entirely from steel.
The bridge spans 1.5 miles across the Forth and is often lit up in different colours at night.
Pont Neuf, Paris
Translating to English as ‘New Bridge’, this stone structure is the oldest bridge spanning the River Seine in Paris.
Despite the fact that it’s the only original bridge remaining, it retains its rather confusing title. However, it was new at some point in its life, so… Pont Neuf straddles the western part of the Ile de la cite; the island housing the fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral.
The bridge was destroyed during the French Revolution and was rebuilt from previous casts to the same design. The structure features a statue of Henry IV on his horse, along with 61 alarmingly mean-looking masks.
Dom Luís 1 Bridge, Porto
This is one of six bridges spanning the Douro River in the Portuguese city of Porto but is easily the most iconic of the bunch.
The bridge has a double-deck, with cars and buses running along the lower tier. Pedestrians and trains have sole use of the top-level, which offers amazing views up and down the river. The bridge connects Porto with the city of Vila Nova de Gaia and has done since 1886.
The Bosphorus Bridge, Istanbul
There are three bridges spanning the Bosphorus River in the city of Istanbul, which officially connects the continents of Asia and Europe.
Although known as the Bosphorus, the structure was renamed ’15 July Martyrs Bridge’ after a coup attempt in 2016. The new name hasn’t really caught on, but what Turkey’s President wants, he usually gets, so…
The Bosphorus had the honour of being the longest suspension bridge in Asia until the Sultan Mehmet was built over the same stretch of water in 1998. It was also the longest bridge in Europe until the Humber was erected in England in 1981. It may lack records, but it does have an impressive range of lights that sparkle in the night sky.
Vasco da Gama, Lisbon
Sitting over the River Tagus in the Portuguese city of Lisbon, the Vasco da Gama is the longest bridge in Europe.
The Vasco da Gama was completed in 1998, making it the youngest European bridge on the list. The bridge holds six lanes of traffic and curves off from the bay in Lisbon and into the Tagus River. Constructed to allow traffic to circumnavigate the city centre, the bridge stretches for more than 7.5 miles across the Tagus.
There’s a hotel on the banks of the River where you can view the bridge while enjoying wine. This has absolutely nothing to do with this post, but I thought you should know. Useless information? I got it down.
Do you have any other must-see European bridges to add to the list?
*author might be slightly biased.