Sunday, March 20, 2011

BUILDING BRIDGES...

I have always loved bridges: I even have a wish-list of bridges to visit! What attracts me?... Maybe building bridges seems to have a metaphorical significance, denoting hope and overcoming obstacles. My pick of the best bridges that I have visited so far and the bridges that I still have to cross off my wish list...
1. Ponte Vecchio, Florence. This is the oldest of Florence’s six bridges and was built in 1345 from a unique design where there are shops and arcades under porticos on the bridge.  The shops used to be occupied by the butchers until the Medici rulers replaced them with goldsmiths and silversmiths! The Bridge’s fame saved it from being bombed during the Second World War... Take an evening ‘passegiata’ or stroll along the bridge when the shutters of the artisan shops come down.

2. Charles Bridge, Prague. My most favourite bridge in the world. This medieval pedestrian-only bridge is a carnival of souvenir stalls, caricaturists, and musicians of all kinds — we watched entranced as a wine-glass artist played some enchanting Beethoven scores. The setting is ethereal — the city of a hundred spires, with its spectacular Gothic towers, under the watchful eyes of about 30 baroque saints lining the Bridge.

3. Bridge of Sighs, Venice: The iconic Bridge of sighs so called because it connected the interrogation rooms with the old prison in the famous Doge’s Palace. It is said that the prisoners would look at the outside world for the last time from there and ‘sigh’! It’s a simple looking bridge but you are assured of eternal love if you kiss under the bridge at sunsetJ

4. The Kappelbrucke, Lucerne. This was originally built in 1333, and this bridge has been immortalized by the Indian film industry! This covered wooden bridge has 120 triangular paintings chronicling the city’s history.  Large portions of this bridge were destroyed in a fire and what you see now is a faithful reproduction. On all sides are views of snow-covered mountains, window boxes bursting with geraniums and slender steeples.
                     
5. The Magere Brug, Amsterdam. This famous ‘skinny’ white painted wooden bridge across the river Amstel is built in an Old Dutch design. It is supposed to have been built in 1672 by two sisters living on opposite sides of the river wanting to share the Dutch tradition of ’gezellig’- a mid-morning coffee-break! It has featured in several films including James Bond’s ‘Diamonds are forever’.  
6. Roseman Covered Bridge, Madison County
  Covered bridges symbolize small-town America. They are sentimental and picturesque and perfect ‘kissing bridges’! This is the bridge Robert Kincaid seeks when he stops and asks Francesca for directions in the all time classic “The bridges of Madison County” and also the place where she leaves her note inviting him for dinner! Anonymous notes filled with romantic sentiments are often pinned at the bridge’s entrance!
7. Dragon Bridge, Ljubljana: built in 1901, is a concrete and iron structure that crosses the river Ljubljanica in Ljubljana. The bridge is decorated with green copper dragons, the symbol of the city. According to lore, the founder of this city was the Greek prince Jason with his companions, the Argonauts. Here Jason encountered a fearsome monster which he slew. This dragon is represented on the city’s coat of arms and is a local symbol. Local legend has it that if a virgin walks on the bridge, then the dragons will wag their tails!
8. Old Bridge, Heidelberg: The old bridge is actually relatively 'young' as it was rebuilt many times. The first wooden bridge at this site was built in 1284 but later a stone bridge was built to withstand the floods, ice and rain. Goethe was enthralled by the ambience here as also many poets and painters. There are many baroque statues lining this sandstone bridge with elegant arches.

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