SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Some bridges are a marvel of engineering, yet beyond their practical function they have also inspired musicians, painters and writers.
"Bridges make possible something that is seemingly impossible," said Richard Cleary, author of "Bridges," a study of American structures.
Travel Web site Travel + Leisure has compiled a list of the world's 10 most amazing bridges (here
he-world). This list is not endorsed by Reuters.
1. Langkawi Sky-Bridge, Langkawi, Malaysia
One of the world's highest single-support bridges at the top of Mount Mat Cincang that stands 2,000 feet above sea level, 410 feet long, and less than 6 feet wide. This curved half-moon-shaped pedestrian bridge, built in 2005, grants adventurers 360 degree views of the Langkawi islands and the Andaman Sea.
2. Hangzhou Bay Bridge, across the Qiantang River at the Yangtze River Delta. The longest ocean-crossing bridge in the world at 22 miles long, the rough waters of Hangzhou Bay had to be studied for nearly a decade before plans were drawn. Construction took nearly five years and it opened to the public in May 2008.
3. Leonardo's Bridge, Akershus, Norway
Designed by Leonardo da Vinci in 1502 and constructed by Vebjoern Sand in 2001, this pedestrian and bike arch bridge is considered by scholars to be the first civil engineering project in history based on a da Vinci design, but if it weren't for Norwegian artist Sand's keen eye, the small drawing in the corner of one of da Vinci's notebooks might have remained just an idea. The smaller-scale timber structure (da Vinci had wanted stone) near Oslo is, Sand hopes, the first of many Leonardo bridges around the world.
4. The Bosphorus Bridge, Istanbul, Turkey.
Completed in 1973, this suspension bridge, the only bridge in the world linking two continents - Europe and Asia - has been in the works since 490 B.C., when the bridge was made of a fleet of boats. It was finally commissioned in 1967 and completed six years later.
5. Gateshead Millennium Bridge, on the South Bank of England's River Tyne, between Gateshead and Newcastle.
The world's first bridge to use a tilting mechanism to open, forming a gateway for ships to pass. It's become such a sensation, though, that the bridge - whose motion is likened to the opening and closing of a gigantic eye - puts on a show at least once a day at noon.
6. Royal Gorge Bridge, Royal Gorge, Colorado, over the Arkansas River.
Built in 1929 in six months by mainly inexperienced men, the world's highest suspension bridge was an impressive feat of construction for its time. Wires were connected at the bottom of the gorge and pulled up the granite canyon despite gusty winds. In 1982, the bridge underwent a refurbishment, and wind cables were added.
7. Millau Viaduct, crossing the Tarn Valley in the Massif Central, near Millau in southern France. The tallest vehicular bridge in the world with its highest point at 1,125 feet. Opened in 2004, the bridge was designed, according to its architect Norman Foster, to have the "delicacy of a butterfly." Seven triangular piers support this 79,366 pound (36 tonne) steel bridge that rises above the clouds.
8. Ponte dei Sospiri (The Bridge of Sighs), Rio di Palazzo, Venice, Italy
Built in the early 1600s in the Baroque style, the bridge connects the Doge's Palace to what was once a prison. The name "Bridge of Sighs" came from a Lord Byron poem. Today the bridge is the setting of another legend inspired by the poet -- if a couple kiss underneath the bridge at sunset, they will be granted eternal love. 9. Khaju Bridge, on the Zayandeh River at Isfahan, Iran
Besides its stunning stone foundation, brightly colored tile work and original 17th Century paintings, this bridge is noteworthy because it serves three functions -- as a passageway, a weir, and a recreation place. The bi-level structure, originally built as a dam in 1650, houses a covered indoor area upstairs where people gather to socialize in the shade.
10. Alamilla Bridge, Seville, Spain, over the Guadalquivir River Built in 1992 by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, it is said to resemble a harp and the bridge is the first design of its kind. Its central mast leans at a 58 degree angle, making it appear as if its balancing. Calatrava's other works include the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Tenerife Opera House.
Editing by Belinda Goldsmith