European cities that have the privilege of being crossed by rivers are often adorned with elaborate bridges, with one usually standing out and giving the stigma of each city. Each is a trademark of the waterway that crosses, the point where opposite shores and neighborhoods of cities meet, where locals and tourists intersect, where the view makes you laugh.
Some are stone and medieval, others are modern constructions with metal frames, others have statues and turrets, others impress with their austerity and clean lines. Some are covered and some are hanging to look like they are floating. Certainly each one is unique and worth going through, and not just once.
Ponte Vecchio – Florence
A beautiful bridge, unique and recognizable by all. A stone, medieval bridge that is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and that despite the heavy German bombing during the WW2. was the only survivor in Florence.
What makes this three-arched bridge, which connects the two banks of the Arno River at its narrowest point, unique is the fact that it is completely occupied by shops, built along its entire length. The butchers, of course, who have been here since the 13th century, have been replaced by a decree of 1593 by jewelers and goldsmiths, with the bronze bust of Benvenuto Cellini, a 16th century goldsmith, adorning the east side of the bridge. Another special feature of the “Old Bridge” – which until 1218 was the only one in Florence – is the small arched corridor of Vazari, which was built as a bridge over the bridge to connect the Palazzo Vecchio with the Palazzo Pitti. Ponte Vecchio is one of the most picturesque and romantic places in Florence and the ideal time to admire it from the river bank is at dusk, when the illuminated pastel buildings are reflected in the calm waters of the Arno.
The Rialto Bridge – Venice
A fairytale bridge, also the oldest this time of the Grand Canal of enchanting Venice. The single-arched bridge, with the 6 arches on each side or its sloping ramp leading to a central portico, is covered and also houses shops from the 15th century. However, its history is not without problems, since several times the original floating bridge, built in 1180 from joined boats and wooden boards in order for the inhabitants to cross the Grand Canal, had to be rebuilt.
Like in 1310, when a conspiracy against the Doge, with an attempt to assassinate him and occupy the palace, was suppressed and the conspirators escaped and set fire to the bridge, destroying it in part. Or, when in 1444 such a crowd gathered to attend the weddings of the Marquis of Ferrara, that the Rialto collapsed completely. Today’s unique form, the bridge owes to Antonio da Ponte, whose stone plan based on 12,000 wooden poles was completed in 1591. It is now a top attraction of the Serenity enjoyed by millions of visitors, passing through the sestieri of San Marco in that of San Polo.
Ponte Sant’Angelo – Rome
‘Another spectacular monument of the Eternal City, another wonderful place for an enjoyable walk, with the bonus of the unique view to the Basilica of St. Peter. The most beautiful bridge in Rome – the Archangel Bridge – is indeed the most impressive way to get from the historic center to Piazza San Pietro. Let the picturesque pedestrian street of Via dei Coronari take you there and from the bank of the Tiber enjoy the spectacle: the travertine bridge, with 5 arches – 3 of which are part of the ancient bridge of 134 AD. – is decorated with 10 magnificent statues of angels, while in the background is the impressive fortress Castel Sant’Angelo. The baroque figures of the expressive angels, whose dramatic movement seems alive, were designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1668 and bear the symbols of the Divine Passion. To enjoy the enchanting feeling that the bridge creates in the pedestrians who cross it, walk along it near the statues, looking up every time you approach them, to fully realize the theatrical intensity that is imprinted in their forms. But observe it from a distance, from the Ponte Umberto I bridge to its east, when almost empty of passers-by, it bathes in the night light.
Pont Alexandre III – Paris
One can hardly deny that this is the most elegant Parisian bridge. Combining the left with the right bank of the Seine, it was completed within 4 years and inaugurated in 1900 along with the neighboring Grand and Petit Palais, in view of the World’s Fair to be hosted by the French capital. The Beaux-Arts style and its elaborate, detailed decorative details represent and capture the elegance of Paris, while the Art Nouveau lamps that illuminate it create for a wonderfully romantic atmosphere at night, highlighting the gilded statues that adorn it. Some of them depict lions, others Pegasus and others nymphs, while throughout its allegorical representations represent scenes of French history. The bridge, which honors the Franco-Russian alliance of 1892 and is named after Tsar Alexander Romanov, is a favorite spot of couples sunbathing as it sets over the Seine.
Puente de Isabel II – Seville
This metal bridge is an excellent example of 19th century architecture and an ode to the Andalusian industrial era. Built in 1852, it was the first permanent bridge to be built on the Guadalquivir River, replacing a floating bridge built by the Moors in the 12th century and which, however, had survived for almost 700 years. In fact, the arched bridge crosses a tributary of the Seville River, the Canal de Alfonso XIII, connecting the Real Maestranza arena area with the picturesque Triana neighborhood, famous for its vibrant market and numerous restaurant and flamenco bar options. You can admire the beautiful design of the bridge while dining in one of the riparian restaurants, but for a different view get a ticket to one of the many boats that offer guided tours across Guadalquivir.
Ponte 25 de Abril – Lisbon
You will think you are gazing at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, as you will admire the also crimson suspension bridge in the Portuguese capital. The obvious similarity in design and color is due to the fact that the company that built the American bridge also participated in the consortium that took over the bridge in Tagos. With a length of almost 2.3 km. It is not accessible for pedestrians, it is crossed only by cars that when traveling to Lisbon enjoy a highly spectacular view of the city, while it is also crossed by a railway line. The height of 70m. over the river allows even multi-storey cruise ships to pass under the bridge, while the 6 traffic lanes allow the daily movement of 150,000 vehicles. You will have a wonderful view of the bridge and the Tagus from the suburb of Belem, while you will clearly see the giant statue of Christ on the south bank. In 2017, 51 years after the bridge was inaugurated, a museum and observatory were added to Pillar 7 on its north side, informing visitors of its history and offering breathtaking views from the elevator that takes them to street level.
Tower Bridge – London
The most imposing Thames Bridge is also one of London’s most recognizable landmarks, offering an impressive spectacle as it rises. It is essentially a combination of a suspension and a raised bridge, with a very innovative operating mechanism for its time – it was completed in 1894 and was considered a construction achievement of the Victorian era. Its two Gothic towers were designed to harmonize with the neighboring Tower of London, have a metal frame covered with stone and house the hydraulic mechanisms that moved the bridge until 1974. You can see these original mechanisms up close, learning its history architecture and operation of the bridge, in the Bridge Experience exhibition that operates in its two towers. The highlight of the visit is the walk on the specially designed glass floor, which will take you from the north to the south tower, with the Thames flowing under your feet.
Ha’penny Bridge – Dublin
The forged metal footbridge that joins the two banks of the River Liffey is more than two centuries old and owes its strange name to the amount of a penny that cost tolls to cross when it first opened. Its bright white color that contrasts with the colorful buildings on both sides of the river is renewed every year, while its elegant frame is still illuminated by the original, ornate oil lanterns. Until 1999 it was the only Liffey footbridge, but even today it remains the most popular, with about 27,000 passers-by crossing its 43 meters daily. An ideal time to spend it is dusk, in the sweet light of the old lanterns, when its perfect curve is reflected in the calm waters of the river of the Irish capital.
Kapellbrücke – Lucerne
The “Chapel Bridge” is the symbol of Lucerne and one of the most photographed sights in Switzerland. This beautiful, wooden, covered footbridge dates from 1365 and takes its name from the nearby chapel of Ag. Petrou. It is the oldest of its kind in Europe, while a series of 17th century paintings that adorn its interior, although unfortunately many were destroyed by fire in 1993, contributes to its uniqueness. In spring, the flowers that adorn the whole along its length, framing the octagonal “Water Tower” that is built into the bridge and was built as a prison on the River Rous 30 years before it. The fact that Kapellbrücke is built diagonally on the river makes the spectacle even more enchanting, whether you admire it from the right bank and the old town, or from the new town on the left bank of the river.
The Charles Bridge – Prague
An endless stream of crowds at all hours of the day features the fairytale, Gothic bridge that crosses the Vltava River and connects the historic center of Prague with the castle district. It is honorably named after Charles IV of Bohemia who ordered its construction, although he never saw it completed after the construction lasted almost 50 years. With a length of 516 meters and 16 arches to define its design, it is spectacular from any side of the river even if one observes it. The most exciting experience, however, is to walk along it, enjoying spectacular views of the city. Accompanied by all those who go through it, the 30 baroque statues that adorn it, with the most popular being that of Ag. John of Nepomuk, who brings good luck to those who touch it, ensuring their return to the beautiful Czech capital. As for the two almost identical towers that define its two ends, they are the ideal places to admire from above the bridge itself and the whole of Prague.
Széchenyi Bridge – Budapest
If it is to cross the Danube and cross the Buddha to Pest, do it in the most spectacular way: crossing the famous “Chain Bridge”, which connects the west with the east side of Budapest. It is also a historical landmark of the city, the first permanent way to cross the Danube, but also a symbol of the country’s progress, construction capacity and union of east and west. The view of the suspension bridge and the bright Hungarian parliament at night is captivating, and it is recommended not only to cross it but also to admire it from the river itself, boarding one of the boats that cross the Danube. The urban legend that accompanies Széchenyi’s decoration wants the sculptor János Marschalkó to commit suicide by falling off the bridge, when he realized that he had forgotten to make the tongues of the lions that adorn the bridge. Beyond any myths, it is undeniable that George Sina, having commercial interests in Budapest, largely financed the construction of the bridge, which is why his name is mentioned in its base overlooking the Buddha’s side. Those who are going to travel to Budapest soon, keep in mind that the Chain Bridge will remain closed for renovation until 2023.
This article was originally published on: https://www.travel.gr/