Travel Picks: Top 10 bridges around the world

Fri Nov 9, 2012 5:11am EST
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Suspension bridges, covered bridges, wind-and-rain bridges, rope bridges, ornamental bridges. There's a practical purpose to every bridge; that river has to be crossed or that gorge spanned. But it's the romance, legend and spectacle of a bridge that led online travel consultants ( to create its list of the Top 10 most impressive bridges around the world. Reuters has not endorsed list:

1. Tower Bridge, London, United Kingdom

The world saw Tower Bridge this year during Britain's remarkable summer of Diamond Jubilee festivities, the Olympics and Paralympic Games. It was built in 1894, all Victorian Gothic with Cornish granite and Portland stone, close to the Tower of London from which it gets its name. Standing 42 meters (yards) above the legendary River Thames, its walkways are vantage points for many London landmarks. Plus, it's the only bridge on the Thames that can be raised to let boats pass. The bascules are raised approximately 1,000 times per year.

2. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, USA

No list of bridges is complete without this orange-vermillion wonder that spans the strait linking San Francisco Bay with the Pacific Ocean. It has stood above the Golden Gate, often shrouded in fog, for 75 years. At 4,200 feet long, the Golden Gate Bridge was, for almost 30 years, the longest in the world. In a city of superb see-before-you-die attractions, the bridge tops the list. Visitors can walk or bike across it. Alternatively, the Bridge Pavilion tells the story of the bridge and has a range of souvenirs for friends and family back home.

3. Lions Gate Bridge, Vancouver, Canada

This is the bridge that Guinness built. Really. The Lions Gate Bridge, known officially as the First Narrows Bridge, spans Burrard Inlet and connects the City of Vancouver to the North Shore (North Vancouver and West Vancouver). The Lions Gate refers to the mountain peaks (The Lions) that are visible to drivers heading north. The wealthy Guinness family invested heavily in West Vancouver and part of the deal was that they - through their British Pacific Properties Co. - would build all roads and water lines. Knowing that they needed to make the area more accessible, they were involved with the construction of the bridge and, in 1986, gifted its lights.

4. Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney, Australia

The bridge is the largest steel-arch bridge in the world. It's not the longest (that honor belongs to the New River Gorge in West Virginia), but it's one of the most recognizable symbols of Australia. It's 1,149 meters (3,770 feet) long and its arch span is 503 meters. The top of the arch is 134 meters above the sea and the clearance for shipping under the deck is a spacious 49 meters. Eager to climb to the Pylon Lookout? There are 200 steps to ascend to get to one of Sydney's oldest tourist attractions. If you want to climb it, you can do that too for about $218. In overalls and secured to a safety line, you can climb 1,500 meters over the arch.   Continued...

The full moon rises through the Olympic Rings hanging beneath Tower Bridge during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 3, 2012. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor