The most incredible drawbridges of Europe

Enjoy of the creativity and the imagination of the human with the most spectacular drawbridges on the old continent.

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Hi, in the effort to find an island to build my future (and unique) building, I called my best friend from North America (how are Ray?), and, between the two, we toured by the territory between Canada and United States, where lies the area known as the thousand Islands (to be exact are 1864). There we discovered two Islands joined by the smaller international bridge in the world, it’s two small surfaces that, in theory, separate (nothing more and nothing less than) Canada and United States.

I say in theory because I, Rodolfo, illustrious legacy of a breed of adventurers, polyglot and famous philanthropists, I told them of a smaller international bridge which unite Spain and Portugal in the municipality of La Codosera, it has three meters and twenty centimeters of length and crosses the Abrilongo River. One Canadian attendant confessed (finally) us that this bridge (the Islander) does not divides the two countries, although it is a good tourist attraction (it must be said).

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Ray has a great sense of the spectacle and he proposed me a contest that I could not refuse (I’m weak). I placed on the other side of the bridge, and with strong voice, I shouted: “You won’t be able to win me, villain!”, he turned indignant and continued rising his tone, “again you?, Do you want to feel the defeat in my hands another time? Very well! If you want a new battle, I will not be who you snub! “, here he paused to give greater drama, after a few seconds, he continued:

“I challenge you on this fabulous bridge, able to unite two great Nations (we decided not to remove the illusion to tourists), to a dialectical struggle relentlessly, to see who describes the most incredible drawbridge of Europe”. Grandiloquent, he turned on himself, opening the arms dramatically, and front of the amazed spectators whispered: “he will not accept, is a coward, a wet chicken!”. “I accept, villain! (I contradict), I’m more than ready to start the battle”, saying these words I took a step to the front. “And to start I will talk you about the Pont Jacques Chaban Delmas, in France.”

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Opened March 16 of 2013, this bridge rises vertically on the Garonne River, connecting the neighborhoods of Bacalan and Bastide in Bordeaux. The project carried out by the Architecture Studio et Ouvrages d´art, whose construction cost 156 million euros, saves a distance of 433 metres in length and is made up of several vials, divided by type: transportation, conventional vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. To give it safety and slenderness, have distributed the vials so that cyclists and pedestrians can to move across the outside of the bridge.

The width of the road varies from 32 to 45 metres, and is interrupted by four pylons which serve to raise the central part of 117 metres of light… to 77 meters above the river! The elegant and spectacular silhouette of the bridge, adds to its effectiveness, since it takes only 11 minutes to raise 3,500 tons of weight in its central part. The construction company was Vinci Construction, an important company, without a doubt. Do you think about this good bridge?” With these strong words, I gave him the witness.

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He took a few seconds to recover from the blow, I had taken the initiative and had named a bridge that, surely, would be his first bet. “If you talk about a bridge of raising, I will talk about bridges of lowering, in particular, of two bridges that cross the Corinth canal in Greece (built between 1.881 and 1893), a channel which, as you know, have 6.3 kilometres of long and up to 23 meters wide and through which pass each year some 11,000 navigations (tourist almost all).

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Are two great bridges that “lower” up to eight meters of depth, so the boats do not have height limitations, which is a very convenient advantage for sailing boats. Two huge beams holding the central span in which there are three lanes, one of which is for pedestrians, the transit surface is of wood, allowing the water to drain through the joints between the planks. Please, Rodolfo, don’t stay in the middle when the bridge immerse”.

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“Let’s be serious Ray, nothing like a good ride to cross a river, ask the inhabitants of Biscay who enjoy the hanging bridge of Portugalete since July 28, 1893 (yes, the same year in which completed your famous Corinth canal). This is the first Transporter Bridge in the world constructed with metal structure and cable-stayed, the parents, the architect Sir Alberto Palacio Elissague and the French engineer Sir Ferdinand Joseph Arnodin should be very proud to its completion, don’t you think?

The structure rests on four iron towers of 61 metre of high joined by a rail of 160 metre-long, suspended over the Ibaizabal river to 45 metres. Eight steel cables are anchored at the ends to the foundation, located at 110 meters away on both sides of the bridge (fantastic). The transport from one side of the river to another is done through a nacelle that its journey takes nearly two minutes, has space for six vehicles and 200 passengers, apart from motorcycles and bicycles. You cannot appreciate a good bridge if you haven’t seen it, you travel to Spain and find out by yourself.”

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My friend was going very badly, and I didn’t know if give you a bit of respite when he attacked with something unexpected. “Have you mounted in a circular rotating bridge? No? I have done it, my friend, in the Scale Lane Bridge designed by McDowell + Benedetti to cross the Hull river, in the city of the same name in the United Kingdom. It is the first bridge that allows you to walk on it while this opening or closing the river traffic. Its black steel structure is not lacking of aesthetics.

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But the best thing is that the same bridge allows you to follow two routes: one with gentle slope and another (shorter) with steps. It has a viewpoint in its Centre, a restaurant with skylight on the bottom and, of course, already it has become all a tourist attraction. See it at night is an experience, ask to the famous artist Nayan Kulkarni, which was responsible for designing the rhythmic campaigns and the flashing light to alert you that the bridge moves…”

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I spoke then of the bridge of Slauerhoffbrug, in the Netherlands, opened in the year 2000. Its most important particularity is that it does not rise, low, rotates or moves along rails, I told him that, of all the exposed bridges is the unique so far that is a real drawbridge. Its surface of 15 by 15 meter connects both sides of the river Vaart Harlinger. When it need to work it swivels that support in two concrete pillars, its wit is not only its particular figure, also the fact that, when it swing due to the weight of the end opposite to the platform, needs less energy.

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He spoke to me of the Hörn bridge, located in the city of Kiel, in Germany. This bridge, said, not rise, low, rotates, moves along rails or (simply) is a drawbridge, no, this bridge is folded over itself, occupying the minimum space. The bridge was designed by the firm Gerkan, Marg and Partners (yes, the same that designed the reform of the Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid) and is folded into three segments, as the letter “N”, was built in the year 1997 and cost 16 million German marks (to change 8,18 million euros). It crosses about 25 meters away to five meters in height.

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Exhausted by the exchange of crosses, we shook hand in the center of the bridge smaller non-international of Canada. The people around took photos, we made selfies and called us for autographs, but we were thinking in how to persuade the owner of the two islands to make a bridge, which should rise, low, rotates, moves along rails, is a drawbridge simple or is folded over itself, in fact, any movement would be worth. Bye bye.

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