bridges

Spectacular bridges around the world

March 11, 2012 at 4:07 PM ET

evgenyvasenev /
The Bay Bridge in San Francisco, which carries about 270,000 vehicles each day, opened in 1936.

They’re a means to an end: bridges are fundamentally a way to get from point A to point B. But as designs get bigger and bolder, bridges have also become destinations in their own right — as highlighted by the strong ranking of bridges in Travel + Leisure’s survey of the top new landmarks.

Slideshow: See the spectacular bridges

France’s Millau Viaduct bridge, unveiled in 2004, was a survey favorite for its daring beauty — stretching more than 8,000 feet across a gorge 1,132 feet below. It also inspires travelers to stop for a photo-op, including Travel + Leisure community member avs8819, whose image of the bridge gleaming on a sunny afternoon made it into this slideshow of readers’ beautiful bridge photos.

While the Millau Viaduct bridge has become a near-instant icon, no tribute to these spanning structures would be complete without the Brooklyn Bridge, whose masterful combination of stone archways and steel cables — juxtaposed against the Manhattan skyline — makes for breathtaking photos.

The Ponte Vecchio in Florence rivals the Brooklyn Bridge as one of the world’s most photographed; it draws travelers not only for its medieval good looks but for its jam-packed boutiques selling primarily gold and silver jewelry. No shopaholic will just cross this bridge over the Arno River nonchalantly — and it’s a rare tourist who leaves without a few shots of the bridge and the surrounding hills and cypress trees.

Of course, here, too, in America, we have historic covered bridges that can stir feelings of nostalgia for a time we never actually experienced. Our slideshow includes one such wooden bridge in New Hampshire, captured in autumn against a vibrant backdrop of red and gold leaves. Vietnam also puts its own spin on covered bridges, going for bright colors and ornate tiling and figurines.

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