The 10 most famous Chinese bridges

Ultra-long or ultra-high, built with the most innovative engineering techniques or witnesses to past eras. Designed to be crossed by trains or cars, or perhaps designed exclusively for pedestrians, or sometimes beasts of burden. There are a host of Chinese bridges renowned for some unusual or distinctive features.

The top ten most famous Chinese bridges

Of all the many bridges in China, we have selected 10 of the most interesting, whether from the architectural, engineering, historical or even symbolic point of view.

1 – Chengyang Bridge

It would be impossible not to include the Chengyang bridge, also known as the Bridge of the Wind and Rain, the Panlong Bridge or the Yongji Bridge, in the rankings of the most famous bridges in China. It is known internationally as a symbol of Dong architecture, and was built in 1916 of wood and stone. At 64.4 metres long, 10.6 metres high and 3.4 metres wide, it is completely covered all the way along and has 5 towers or pavilions with three-tiered roofs. Because of its distinctive structure it can be considered simultaneously a bridge, a corridor, a pavilion and a veranda, offering comfortable stools inside where people can sit and admire the view.

2 – Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge

In second position in the rankings of the most famous bridges in China is a very different type of bridge. We come now, in fact, to the longest bridge in the world, that is, the Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge viaduct on the high-speed railway line between Beijing and Shanghai. The bridge is 164.8 kilometres long, and 30 metres high, and spans the Yangtze river delta. Along its route, the bridge crosses over a stretch of the Yangcheng lake, running for 9 kilometres just over water. The spans of the bridge have a maximum width of 80 metres; construction of this enormous viaduct started in 2006 and ended in 2010.

3 – Hangzhou Bay Bridge

This is another Chinese bridge that has beaten records for its length: the Hangzhou Bay Bridge is the longest trans-oceanic bridge in the world, extending for 35.6 kilometres between the municipalities of Jiaxing and Ningbo. It was constructed between 2003 and 2007, and was officially opened to traffic in 2008; thanks to this bridge, the journey by road between Ningbo and Shanghai has been cut from 400 kilometres to just 180 kilometres.

4 – Beijing Grand Bridge

The Beijing Grand Bridge is another of the longest bridges in the world, extending for just over 48 kilometres over the high speed railway line we mentioned earlier, that links Beijing and Shanghai. This railway line has meant that it is possible to travel between the two cities in just 5 hours, partly also due to a long series of bridges like this one, which trains can shoot along at speeds sometimes in excess of 250 kilometres an hour. This particular bridge is 8th on the list of the longest bridges in the world, a list whose top ten are dominated by China: indeed, Chinese bridges take 5 of the top 10 places.

5 – Marco Polo Bridge

The Marco Polo Bridge is an ancient bridge over the river Yongding, in the Beijing area. The name – used alternatively with Bridge of the Black Ditch – is in homage to the medieval traveller Marco Polo, who lavished praise on the bridge when he saw this great work of architecture. Up until 1189, the local people relied on a ferry to cross the river, but by this date the ferry could no longer deal with all the traffic between the two shores. It was therefore decided to build a stone bridge, completed in 1192. Marco Polo describes the bridge in great detail in his work “Il Milione”. It is 266.5 metres long in total and 9.3 metres wide, and was rebuilt in 1698 after a flood: it now features 11 arches.

6 – Weinan Weihe Grand Bridge

This bridge connects the cities of Zhengzhou and Xi’an, extending for 79 kilometres and spanning the river Wei twice, as well as other rivers, roads and railway lines. On completion it was hailed as the longest bridge in the world, but it was later overtaken by the bridges constructed along the railway line between Beijing and Shanghai.

7 – Cangde Grand Bridge

Cangde Grand Bridge is the fourth longest bridge in the world and was completed in 2010; it is also situated on the railway line between Beijing and Shanghai. It is 105 kilometres long, and is supported by over 3,000 piers. Particular attention was devoted in this project to withstanding natural disasters, starting with earthquakes.

8 – Guangji Bridge

We now return to one of the oldest and most famous Chinese bridges. The Guangji Bridge, also known as the Xiangzi Bridge, was first built in 1170. It is 517 metres long, and is a symbol of Chinese resilience, having been rebuilt several times as a result of dramatic floods.

9 – Five Pavilion Bridge

Also known as the Lotus Bridge, this Chinese bridge is located on the West Lake in the city of Yangzhou. Built in 1757, during the Qing Dynasty, it features 5 pavilions and extends for 55 metres. The main body of the bridge is built of stone, with 15 arches of different sizes but all broad enough to allow boats to pass through.

10 – Luding Bridge

The Luding Bridge is a historic Chinese suspension bridge, that spans the river Dadu. It was constructed in 1701, and is amazing in its simplicity: it is a total of 103 metres long and 3 metres wide, with a wood and metal surface and chains running along the sides. It is significant in particular for having been the scene of the Battle of Luding Bridge, one of the most important events in the so-called Long March, the huge military retreat carried out by the Red Army in 1934 before the advancing Kuomintang forces.