Humans have accomplished any number of engineering and architectural feats over the years. From inventing the wheel and the boat to launching ourselves into space, you have to admit that we’ve become masters of many methods of transportation.
One of the most overlooked achievements is the bridge. Humans have been building bridges to help get from Point A to Point B since time immemorial. Nowadays, though, advanced architectural design and engineering have transformed the modest bridge from something utilitarian into an art form. Many modern bridges are technical wonders of form and function.
That said, sometimes we go a little too far. Some people look at bridges and wonder exactly how far they can push this ancient art form. In the process, they sometimes end up creating something that’s a little less about function than form. In some cases, even the form is missing. There are some bridges out there that are incredibly dangerous in addition to being completely nonsensical.
We’ve rounded up 20 of the weirdest, strangest, nonsensical bridges around the world. Some of them are safer than others. Some of them you’ll want to cross with your eyes closed. In any case, these bridges leave us asking, “Why?”
20 Don’t Look Down On This Bridge In Malaysia
The Langkawi Sky Bridge in Malaysian certainly lives up to its name. It hangs 2,000 feet above sea level, suspended from the top of Mount Mat Cincang. In fact, it ranks among the world’s highest single-stay bridges. At 400 feet long and less than 6 feet wide, the bridge is a great way to grab a panoramic shot of the Langkawi archipelago.
Of course, you have to actually get to the bridge first. Tourists hoping to rise above the clouds and get a better glimpse of the 99 islands need to take a cable car up to the top first! That just doesn’t make much sense. Maybe we’re better off staying on the ground.
19 Mount Hua Uses The Term “Bridge” Loosely
If you travel to northern China, you’ll probably visit Mount Hua National Park. It’s one of the most famous destinations. The park’s claim to fame is the narrow hiking paths, or “bridges,” that connect several summits in the area.
High up on the mountainside, footboards have been anchored directly into the side of the rock. There are also long lengths of rusting chain, which serve as your safety against a long descent. At just a meter wide in places, it’s almost impossible to pass other hikers. The drops have angles ranging from 70 to 80 degrees, so Mount Hua is definitely the place you want to take the old advice “don’t look down.”
18 This Bridge In China Is An Endless Loop
When you cross a bridge, you generally expect it’s going to have a clear starting point and a clear ending point. After all, that’s the point of a bridge. You use it to go from one side of something to the other.
The Lucky Knot Bridge, which swoops over the Dragon King Harbor River in Changsha, apparently missed the memo. The 600-foot bridge is effectually 3 bridges in 1, all woven together to create what the designers refer to as a Mobius ring. You might even think it looks a bit like a roller coaster.
17 This Bridge Might Be A Roller Coaster
If the Lucky Knot Bridge looks like a roller coaster, then Eshima Ohashi bridge basically is one. Located in the Chugoku region on the Japanese island of Honshu, this bridge rises up and up and up, taking vehicle traffic over Lake Nakaumi.
The bridge is just 1 mile across, but it has a grade of 5% on one side and 6% on the other. Photographic trickery can make the inclines look worse than they actually are, but those are still steep grades. We highly recommend making sure your brakes are in good working order before taking the jaunt across the lake in your car.
16 Vietnam’s “Monkey Bridges” Are Tradition
These next bridges aren’t exactly wonders of modern engineering, nor do they cross yawning chasms. Instead, they’re a long-held tradition. The mighty Mekong River roars through Vietnam, but people still need to get across the river. The “monkey bridges” have long been the solution.
Monkey bridges are generally a single bamboo long and one handrail, and the people of southern Vietnam have long built them by hand. When crossing, you’ll stoop over and assume a monkey-like position as you scuttle over the river. These days, monkey bridges are being replaced by concrete constructions, which, in our opinion, are probably a little more sensible.
15 This Artisanal Bridge Can Literally Roll Out The Red Carpet
This next bridge comes to us from the UK, where a design firm got a little less interested in function and a little more interested in form. The rolling bridge, which is the only one of its kind in the world, was built in 2004. It acts as a walkway in London’s Grand Central Union Canal.
The bridge features a hydraulic system, which allows it to curl up into an octagon. It retracts to allow boats to pass through the canal. Experts say the bridge is pretty complicated for all it actually does, which leaves us asking that key question. Why?
14 People Brave These Bridges For An Incredible View
Mount Ai-Petri, or Mount Saint Peter in English, is located in Crimea. The mountain peak is famous for the tall cross crowning the actual peak. We’re not sure who looked up here and thought they needed to stick a cross on top of the mountain, but they were a brave soul.
These days, you can reach the summit via a pair of wood-slat cable bridges. It’s another place you probably won’t want to look down. Cloud cover often obscures the ground below, but after the long hike up here, you’ll have a good idea of just how far down it is. For $4, you can take a cable car up instead.
13 Singapore’s Tallest Pedestrian Bridge Might Be Its Most Nonsensical
Singapore’s tallest pedestrian bridge links Mount Faber Park and Telok Blangah Hill Park. That’s not the weird part.
The bridge stands an impressive 118 feet tall and spans approximately 900 feet. Pedestrian bridges allow architects to experiment a little more with design, since they don’t need to be able to bear as much weight. Nonetheless, the appropriately named Henderson Waves undulates along those 900 feet, creating a snake-like shape on the Singapore skyline.
The bridge also incorporates benches right into its framework, so you can sit and gaze out at the horizon. LED lights illuminate it at night, but it’s still a strange bridge in the middle of 2 national parks.
12 Forgot Your Watch? This Bridge Has You Covered
Don’t you hate when you get stuck on a bridge, but forgot your watch so you can’t tell what time it is? We think it must have happened to the architect who designed what’s known as the Sundial Bridge more often than not.
This pedestrian bridge is made of steel, glass, and granite, and it spans the Sacramento River in Turtle Bay Exploration Park. It wouldn’t even be notable if it wasn’t for the fact it has a 217-foot tall support tower that acts as a giant sundial. We’re not going to wait around for an answer as to why a bridge needs a giant sundial.
11 The Massive Millau Viaduct Will Take You Higher
Back in 2001, the UK needed a new bridge to take people over the valley of the Tarn River. They decided to solve that with the massive Millau Viaduct. This behemoth bridge is actually one of the tallest in the world, standing at 1,125 feet.
The bridge took just 3 years to complete, thanks to some innovative construction techniques. It’s impressive when you think about the scale of the project. What makes the bridge nonsensical, however, is that the deck itself is 885 feet above sea level. On foggy days, you and other drivers may find yourself lost in the clouds. If that seems a little hazardous, it’s probably because it is.
10 This French Bridge Is Like An Elevator
The Seine River is one of France’s major commercial waterways, which means it sees plenty of shipping traffic through its waters. Any bridge spanning it has to be built with that in mind. The Pont Gustave-Flaubert certainly did, becoming Europe’s tallest lift bridge.
Unlike bridges that lift sections of the road on an angle, this bridge just goes straight up and down. It takes about 12 minutes to be pulled all the way up, allowing tall ships to pass underneath. The silly part of this? The bridge is only lifted the entire way around 30 times per year. It seems a little extravagant!
9 It Took A Decade To Plan Hangzhou Bay Bridge
Hangzhou Bay Bridge is an amazing feat of engineering. The bridge links the cities of Jiaxing and Ningbo. It finally opened in 2008, after about a decade of planning, and commuters were able to cut about 75 miles off their odometers every time they traveled between the two cities.
We can certainly appreciate saving time on your commute, but that doesn’t mean the Hangzhou Bay Bridge makes sense. Its 22-mile length makes it the longest ocean-crossing bridge in the world. Since the bridge goes to sea, engineers had to account for powerful typhoons and the tides which, in Hangzhou, are extremely strong! We think we’ll stick to going around, or at least check the weather before we go.
8 Not Everything Leonardo Da Vinci Did Was Genius
You probably learned about Leonardo Da Vinci in school, or at least from talking about the Mona Lisa. The epitome of a Renaissance man, Da Vinci wasn’t just a painter. He was also interested in biology and engineering. He designed helicopters and mechanized suits of armor, way back in the 1500s.
He also designed a bridge for an Ottoman sultan. About 500 years later, someone decided to breathe new life into Da Vinci’s sketches. Looking at the result, we see why it took 500 years for someone to actually build this bridge. If nothing else, the architect proved you could actually build Da Vinci’s design, which was long thought to be impossible.
7 This Bridge In Amsterdam Breaks The Mold
Amsterdam is a city renowned for its bridges, many of them with very traditional designs. Around the dawn of the new millennium, however, the city hired a design firm to link the Sporenburg area and Borneo Island. Apparently, everyone was in a bit of a futuristic mood, because what they got was anything but traditional.
The bridge, which opened in 2001, spans about 300 feet. It’s known as “Pythonbrug,” or “Python Bridge,” which is pretty on the nose. The walkway rolls in waves, sometimes reaching a grade of more than 5%! We think Amsterdam should probably stick with the tried and true.
6 This Bridge Is Supposed To Look Like An Eye
If you like your bridges with a dose of creepy, this next one is definitely for you. The Gateshead Millennium Bridge crosses the River Tyne, connecting New Castle and Gateshead.
Since the bridge crosses the river, it needs to be able to allow shipping traffic to pass. This isn’t any old tilt-bridge, however, and a system of 6 hydraulic rams pivot the bridge’s walkway on a 40-degree angle to allow boats to pass. Better yet, the architect has said it’s supposed to look like a slowly opening eyelid when it opens. We’re not quite sure why a bridge needs to look that way, but then, we’re not architects.
5 The Oresund Bridge Is … Complicated
Sweden and Denmark have a long, complex history, so it only makes sense the 2 Nordic nations would build themselves a long, complicated bridge over the Oresund Strait, the body of water that separates them.
The bridge, which spans nearly 5 miles, begins as a cable-stayed structure on Sweden's side, and ends as a tunnel on Denmark's side. They even had to build a small, artificial island in the middle of the strait to keep water from flooding the tunnel entrance.
While experts say the bridge was the best solution to easing travel between Sweden and Denmark, we’re going to say you could probably have taken a boat.
4 The Puente de la Mujer Represents A Movement To Motion
This next bridge, located in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is called the Puente de la Mujer. Roughly translated, it means “Woman’s Bridge.” It was designed by the same architecture who designed the Sundial Bridge.
The bridge’s main claim to fame is that the deck portion supported by the inclined pylon can rotate 90 degrees. It needed to be able to accommodate passing ships, but 90-degree rotations feel a little like overkill.
Nonetheless, some bridge architects are trying to incorporate more movement into modern bridges. We can’t say we agree with this idea, since we’d much prefer our bridges to be stationary.
3 This Is One Of The Longest Floating Bridges In The World
If you travel between Seattle and Medina in Washington state, you’ll likely cross State Route 520. If you do, you’ll actually pass over one of the longest floating bridges in the world.
The Evergreen Point Floating Bridge was completed in 1966, and even today, its 1.4-mile long floating span makes it one of the longest in the world. In the 1960s, building a suspension bridge over Lake Washington wasn’t an option because of the depth of the water.
The bridge has been battered by winds and even had a barge crash into it. These days, much of the bridge needs to be replaced. With newer technology, floating bridges have become somewhat nonsensical as well.
2 This Bridge Is A Spare No Expense Ordeal
The Octavio Frias de Oliveira Bridge was completed 10 years ago now, but the project is still gargantuan. The X-shaped bridge soars 452 feet over the Pinheiros River in Sao Paulo. Brazil's government then tricked it out with a custom-made LED light system, which allegedly uses about half the power of other bridge-lighting systems.
Why doesn’t this bridge make sense? It’s the only one in the world where 2 curved tracks are supported by a single mast. We’re not sure if that makes it innovative or just a bad idea all around. The 2 tracks, one at 12 meters and the other at 24 meters, do eventually cross each other, resulting in the bridge’s distinctive X.
1 The Falkirk Wheel Is Like A Bridge For Boats
This entry isn’t a bridge in the strictest sense. It’s a boat lift in Scotland, which connects the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals. Unlike a traditional lock system, the Falkirk Wheel moves boats by lifting them up out of the water, and then depositing them in the Union Canal.
The installation of the wheel marks the first time the 2 canals have been connected since the 1930s. The Wheel is also the world’s first and only rotating boat lift! It also doesn’t take you all the way to the Union Canal, which is 11 meters higher than the Wheel. Locks are still necessary, which leaves us wondering why anyone thought the Falkirk Wheel was the solution.
References: Unilad.com, PopularMechanics, Vietnam.net, Atlas Obscura, highestbridges.com, Wired.com