The gods would appear to have never been so close.
At a resort on the top of a mountain in Vietnam, there is a pedestrian bridge that resembles a golden thread held up by a pair of giant hands emerging from the side of a cliff.
It is the latest addition to the Ba Na Hills, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country that boasts one of the world’s longest cable car rides and a replica medieval French village.
It is also part of a $2 billion development programme by the government to try to bring more tourists to the country, given the success that unique architecture has had in garnering interest elsewhere in the world, according to Viet Nam News, a local newspaper.
In the few months since it opened this summer, Cau Vang, or Golden Bridge in Vietnamese, has attracted countless numbers of visitors, hosted a fashion show and inspired India to contemplate building something similar, according to other news reports.
It has also become a social media sensation, according Agence France-Presse. «We're proud that our product has been shared by people all over the world», Vu Viet Anh, the principal designer and founder of TA Landscape Architecture, the firm responsible for the bridge, told the news agency.
What makes it so special is that it looks more like a work of art than a structure with as simple a purpose as that of a bridge.
«I feel like I’m walking on clouds», was what one tourist exclaimed to the Reuters news agency on a recent visit. «It’s so unique».
Located more than 1,000 meters above sea level, the bridge offers views of the landscape that stretches out below while making people feel they are a part of it. Five metres wide and 150 metres long, it follows the curve of the cliff on which it is built. Part of the columns holding it in place take the form of a pair of giant hands that appear to come out of the cliff. The gold colour given the bridge makes it look like a thread running through the hands.
At a more functional level, the bridge allows visitors to walk from the cable car station to the nearby gardens, one of the attractions of the resort.
On its website, TA Landscape Architecture says it wanted to give the bridge a design that befitted the theme of the resort.
«As an expanded part of the Avatar Garden, the bridge continues to exhibit its existing theme that focuses on the myth of Gods, human and nature», it says in a description of the project. «The remarkable appearance of two huge grips looks like they drew the bridge out from the ground and adore it as (if) it were a gift from nature».
The firm, based in Ho Chi Minh City, said it designed the bridge to be the least incisive as possible on its surroundings. «The key to the design development was how the structure was to be inserted into a sensitive site, without major damage and disruption to the cliff below».
It said it had the columns painted in appropriate shades to blend in with the forest so as to give the impression that the bridge was hovering in the air.
The skeleton frames of the two hands are swathed in wire and fiberglass mesh. The material and colour were selected to create an appearance of an aged ruin. «The two giant hands were deliberately embellished with cracks and moss finishing».
Speaking again to AFP, Anh said he planned to have built adjacent to the structure a silver bridge that would look like the strand of a god’s hair.