On the walkways of Tower Bridge there is currently a display of other iconic, interesting, ancient and modern bridges around the world.
There are some big hitters in the display; the Pont Neuf; the Golden Gate Bridge; Ironbridge, and some interesting but less widely known examples, for example the Moses Bridge at Fort de Roovere, Halsteren, Netherlands. Looking at this exhibition, an in-passing conversation got me thinking about other bridges that have taken my fancy on my travels, so here are a few ‘Other Bridges of the World’.
The Tower Bridge display include a beautiful bridge which I was fortunate to visit in Isfahan, Iran, the Allāhverdi Khan Bridge, more commonly known as Si-O-So-Pol.
Here are a few of my images of this lovely bridge.
A little way to the west of the Si-O-So-Pol bridge is another mid-17th century beauty, the Khaju Bridge.
Again, the bridge is built of two levels of arcades, and has the original tiles and paintings still intact.
The bridge works as both a bridge and a weir, but it also has a function as a buildings for meetings, a space for the Shah Abbas, the Persian Safavid king, to relax, take tea and admire the view.
The weir’s effect on the river is very evident but, as long as the water isn’t too high, it’s quite safe to sit by the water to enjoy the cool space on a hot day.
When I visited, the area around both of these bridges and along the riverside was peppered with people; individuals, couples, groups of friends and families, all enjoying the same relaxing space as the Shah Abbas. Strolling along the riverbank, sitting by the water, listening to music and eating ice-cream. Some things never change.
The sole Roman Bridge in the Tower Bridge display is the Pont du Garde, near Nimes in France.
I’m including another Roman bridge here for good measure. In Algeria, crossing the El Kantara gorge in Biskra, on the journey south to Ghardaia, we came to the El Kantara Roman Bridge.
The bridge was substantially rebuilt under Napolean but its roots are Roman. Built, probably, by the Third Legion Augusta, who were stationed at Lambaesis, this bridge crossed the gorge which was, and still is, the gateway to the desert. This made it a vital point of access for trade and people.
The bridge eventually fell into disrepair but was renovated and widened under Napoleon.
Some of the original Roman construction blocks can be seen, and there is also an area of the original pavement, although it doesn’t look like it’s still in situ.
During our visit, we were joined at the bridge by a wedding party, and the happy couple has photos taken by the side of the river and on the bridge. We were told that it’s a bit of a tradition in the area to have wedding photos taken there and it’s certainly a lovely spot for it.
In the exhibition is a bridge which became a victim of war and, subsequently, a symbol of post-war recovery and reconcilliation: Stari Most, the Mostar Bridge.
Originally built in the 16th century, on 9th November 1993, the Mostar Bridge was destroyed by Croat forces in the Croat-Bosniak War. Its destrucion has been described as a deliberate attack on the culture of Mostar in an act of “killing memory”*, so its reconstruction and reopening in 2004 acted as a symbol of the town’s recovery, both physically and culturally.
A bridge in my own alternative exhibition has suffered a similar fate and, we must hope, may yet act as a symbol for the future. In the northern Syrian town of Deir-ez Zor stood the Deir ez-Zor suspension bridge (Arabic: جسر دير الزور المعلق).
Deir ez-Zor suspension bridge, early misty morning.
This bridge was built in 1927, under the French Mandate and acted as a pedestrian route across the Euphrates, connecting the Levant region of the city on the southern bank with the Upper Mesopotamia region on the north bank. When I visited Deir-ez Zor in 2009, I was particularly gleeful about being able to walk from the Levant to Mesopotamia.
The bridge was destroyed in May 2013 in shelling by the Free Syrian Army.
Deir-ez Zor has suffered horribly in the Syrian War and this situation continues with no obvious end in sight. Clearly I have no idea how the situation in Syria will be resolved but I can only hope that one day, soon, the Deir-ez Zor Suspension Bridge might act as a symbol for the end of war and the beginning of recovery, as has the Mostar Bridge.
To end on a slightly less depressing note, a bridge that’s a bit more modern.
One of the (many) things I like about Newcastle is the great abundance of bridges over the Tyne. There are railway bridges and road bridges, some of them towering above the river and the streets below them.
There’s a swing bridge!
Walking over the Tyne Bridge feels like an act of folly due to the thunderous traffic, but it’s quite fun nevertheless.
But there is also a more recent and more chilled out bridge taking pedestrians from the city over to the Baltic on the Gateshead side of the river: the Gateshead Millennium Bridge.
Work on the bridge began in 1999 and it opened to the public in September 2001. It is a bit of a symbol of the regeneration of the riverside area. I’m pretty sure that anyone who lives in an old industrial city can testify, ‘regeneration’ can be a double edged sword. Down at heel, even derelict areas can be brought back to life and made really nice. The addition of a decent cafe is always welcome. But in the rush to lure new money and new people to an area, ‘regeneration’ can often ignore the people who already live or work there. I’m not sure exactly how the people of Newcastle feel about their riverside’s regeneration but, as a visitor, I like it.
It’s a tilting bridge which consists of two steel arches, one which carries the footpath and the other which acts as a counterweight. Like Tower Bridge, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge ‘opens’ for river traffic to pass underneath, but rather than using the split roadway idea, the entire bridge tilts.
Despite having seen and walked across this bridge lots of times, I’d never seen it actually tilting but on a recent quick jolly up north to see some of the Hadrian’s Cavalry exhibition, I was able to catch it on its regular midday tilt**. It’s brilliant 😀 I already liked this bridge but, having now seen it tilting, I like it even more.
These are just a few bridges that have impressed themselves on my memory on my travels. There are others that I really like, in Constantine, Algeria; at Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland and, of course, in London, but I think that I’ll leave those for another day.
** There’s a little Youtube video here: https://youtu.be/lQ0ZqeE7vB0