Being one of the world’s oldest cultures, Chinese culture is influential in a large geographical region in Eastern Asia with traditions differing between cities, provinces, and towns. Vital elements of Chinese culture include music, literature, cuisine, religion, visual arts, architecture etc. I am in awe whenever I see pictures of beautiful buildings and other structures in China. The Great Wall of China is one testament to how much of a perfectionist Chinese people are and how they will do everything just to protect their territory against intruders.
Having said that, China has been known to have a long history in bridge construction and recently it has been pushing the frontiers of bridge construction with many record breaking bridges. The long list of bridges is structured by province and includes noteworthy bridges such as the Anji Bridge which also happens to be the oldest existing bridge. Then there is the Danyang Kunshan Grand Bridge which is the world’s longest bridge measuring over 164 kilometers. Another is the Sidu River Bridge, the highest bridge in the world and the Xihoumen Bridge in Zhejiang province, the second longest suspension bridge span. The list of magnificent, well constructed bridges goes on.
The book Chinese Bridges: Living Architecture from China’s Past by Ronald G. Knapp takes us on a more detailed look and gives thorough information about over 50 historically, culturally, and architecturally noteworthy bridges across China that represent the advanced engineering and technological achievements of earlier times. Readers are given an intellectual and enlightening tour of both famous Chinese bridges and those that are just being discovered by people in the west. The author shows how beautiful, grand, spectacular, and unique these bridges are apart from being functional. They are a part of Chinese architecture that may not be given a lot of attention but in this book they are given the importance that they deserve.
Chinese Bridges is an English language book that contains more than 400 magnificent colored pictures, historic images, paintings, and line drawings as well as descriptions, history, and essays of these bridges. The book is an amazing work of architectural history and will surely provide inspiration for years to come. It is thoroughly researched and carefully written and displays how historical architecture can bring to life the living experiences and ancient culture of its people. This coffee table style book truly imparts rich historical and cultural setting for China’s bridge building tradition.