Reminders of the past rest across most landscapes and often provide a fantastic insight into the way people once lived. Bridges are a perfect example of this. Used to link communities, cross impediments, and make travel easier, they can tell us so much about the origins of civilization.
While many bridges have crumbled and fallen into the expanse they once traversed, there are plenty that still welcome travelers to this day. Here are 10 of the oldest bridges still standing that are well worth putting to use.
10 Kapellbrücke, Switzerland
Also known as Chapel Bridge, Kapellbrücke is a pedestrian bridge constructed from wood that sits above the Reuss River in Lucerne. A popular tourist destination thanks to its simple and elegant design, it was built in 1333 and is named for St. Peter’s Chapel which has been watching over it since day one.
Attached to the bridge is a beautiful water tower which sadly caught fire in 1993 and had to meticulously restored. Panels depicting defining moments in the country’s history also line the structure and are a favorite of those who visit.
9 Dezful Bridge, Iran
Commissioned in 260 A.D. and still in use, Dezful Bridge has stood the test of time with stability and dignity. It is beautifully designed, featuring 14 original arcs spanning an imposing 1,148 feet.
Legend has it that the bridge was constructed by prisoners of war after the fall of the Roman Empire to make use of their famed construction skills. Made from brick instead of stone, it has had issues with flooding in the past and is now a pedestrian bridge only.
8 Pons Fabricius, Italy
The oldest bridge still in use within Rome, the Pons Fabricius was built in 62 B.C. and stretches just over 200 feet in length. The ancient Romans were prolific when it came to constructing bridges, so this remarkable structure is the oldest of a particularly old and impressive bunch.
A pedestrian bridge that is not only still standing but welcoming travelers. It is possible to stroll over this piece of history, and it shows no signs of abandoning its task any time soon.
7 Anji Bridge, China
Despite being built in 605 A.D., Anji Bridge in Zhao Country looks as though it came into existence yesterday. Lovingly cared for throughout the centuries, it is as pristine today as it was when imagined and created by the Sui Dynasty.
The word Anji means ‘safe crossing’ and the name could not be more fitting. Still in use today, visitors can walk the entire 123-foot length and cross the Jiaohe River without a concern. This uniquely wonderful bridge has welcomed travelers for centuries and will do for centuries more.
6 Shaharah Bridge, Yemen
At just a few hundred years old, the Shaharah Bridge may not be as elderly as some of the others on this list, but that does not make it any less impressive. Just one look at it inspires a sense of wonder and trepidation.
It journeys across a 300-foot drop and is actually designed to crumble under the weight of invading forces. Despite this, it is still heavily-trafficked by locals and tourists, so just make sure there aren’t too many people around when you decide to jaunt across it.
5 Arkadiko Bridge, Greece
It is almost possible to hear the chariots as they fly across the arched limestone Arkadiko Bridge. In 1300 B.C. it was a well-worn path for the Greek military that eliminated a troublesome gully on the road linking Tiryns and Epidaurus.
Reaching 72 feet in length and standing 18 feet wide, it was designed with the modes of transport of the day in mind. Today, it is solely used by pedestrians, but centuries ago it was the domain of horses and speeding chariots.
4 Qiancheng Bridge, China
Not by a long stretch one of the oldest bridges on the planet, Qiancheng Bridge deserves a special mention for the fact that it is entirely made of wood. To have survived from its construction in 1127 A.D. all the way through to today is a remarkable achievement that should be lauded.
Its fragile state has meant that running repairs have been required from time to time, but, when you consider the method used to construct this bridge was simply to weave the woods together without nails or adhesives, it truly is something wondrous.
3 Caravan Bridge, Turkey
Believed by many to be the oldest still-functioning bridge in the world, Caravan crosses the River Meles and has done so since 850 B.C. Made of slab stone, it is so sturdy that cars are able to drive across it to this day.
While it may not be the most impressive design ever to grace history, the fact that it is so many thousands of years old cannot be lost when visiting this incredible example of ancient engineering.
2 Alcantara Bridge, Spain
Not many bridges contain predictions etched into their design, but this incredible structure crossing the Tagus River certainly does. A marble plaque at its center reads "I have built a bridge that will last forever," and it has so far been proven completely correct.
Completed in 106 A.D. and reaching a total of 630 feet, Alcantara has played its role in history admirably and still stands as a testament to the past. Through the centuries, wars and skirmishes have damaged or taken chunks out of the bridge, but it still stays true to those words carved into its very foundations.
1 Pont du Gard, Italy
It is not difficult to see why Pont du Gard is one of the world’s most-visited bridges. Created 2000 years ago to span the Gardon River, it is a truly unique sight to behold.
Constructed with stones each weighing up to six tons and assembled in a breathtaking three-tiered fashion, it is a remarkable 902-foot long architectural marvel. It is impossible to experience this prodigious bridge without feeling awestruck by its ambitious and lasting design.