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Home History and Culture Ancient Bridges of China
Ancient Bridges of China
Learn Chinese - History and Culture

guangzi bridge

Ancient Chinese bridges (zhōng guó gǔ dài qiáo liáng 中国古代桥梁) are universally acknowledged and have enjoyed high prestige in the bridge history of both the East and the West. Throughout history, the Chinese nation has erected thousands of ingeniously designed and magnificent bridges. Crossing over mountains, spanning rivers, they have facilitated transportation, beautified landscapes and have become one of the marks of ancient Chinese civilization.

Types of bridges
Ancient Chinese bridges can be classified under four categories: the beam (liáng qiáo 梁桥), arch (gǒng qiáo 拱桥), cable suspension (suǒ qiáo 索桥) and floating bridges (fú qiáo 浮桥).

beam bridge
Beam Bridge (liáng qiáo 梁桥): A Beam Bridge is in structural terms the simplest of the many bridge types. Like most bridges that are characterized by how they are supported, beam bridges consist of one horizontal beam (héng liáng 横梁) with 2 supports usually on either end.
arch bridge
Arch Bridge (gǒng qiáo 拱桥): An Arch Bridge is a bridge with abutments at each end shaped as a curved arch. Arch bridges work by transferring the weight of the bridge and its loads partially into a horizontal thrust restrained by the abutments at either side.
 
cable suspension bridge
Cable Suspension Bridge (suǒ qiáo 索桥): A Suspension Bridge is a type of bridge in which the deck (the load-bearing portion) is hung below suspension cables on vertical suspenders.  The weight is transferred by the cables to the towers, which in turn transfer the weight to the ground.
floating bridge
Floating Bridge (fú qiáo 浮桥): A Pontoon Bridge or Floating Bridge is a bridge that floats on water, supported by barge-or-boat-like pontoons to support the bridge deck and its dynamic loads. Pontoon bridges are especially useful in wartime as river crossings.
 

The Four Most Famous Bridges
Luoyang Bridge (luò yang qiáo 洛阳桥):
The Luoyang Bridge lies over the Luoyang River, which divides Quanzhou City (quán zhōu shì 泉州市) and Hui'an County (huái ān xiàn 淮安县), 10 kilometers east of Quanzhou City in Fujian Province (fú jiàn shěng 福建省). Luoyang Bridge, also known as Wan'an Bridge (wàn ān qiáo 万安桥), is a girder-type stone bridge. Its construction began in 1053 during the Northern Song Dynasty (běi sòng 北宋) (960-1127) and lasted seven years. The original bridge was over 1,200 meters long and five meters wide, with 46 piers, 500 railings, 28 stone lions, seven pavilions and nine stone pagodas. The bridge was listed among other famous girder stone bridges in ancient China.

 luoyang bridge
 zhaozhou bridge
Luoyang Bridge (luò yang qiáo 洛阳桥)
Zhaozhou Bridge (zhào zhōu qiáo 赵州桥)

Zhaozhou Bridge (zhào zhōu qiáo 赵州桥):
The oldest arch bridge in China, which is still surviving and well-preserved, is the Anji Bridge (ān jì qiáo 安济桥) also known as the Zhaozhou Bridge, at Zhou County (zhào xiàn 赵县), Hebei Province (héběi shěng 河北省). Built in the Sui Dynasty (suí cháo 隋朝), It is a single segmental stone arch, composed of 28 individual arches bonded transversely, 37.02m in span and rising 7.23m above the chord line. Narrower in the upper part and wider in the lower, the bridge averages 9m in width. The main arch ring is 1.03m thick with protective arch stones on it. Each of its spandrels is perforated by two small arches, 3.8m and 2.85m respectively in clear span, so that flood water can be drained and the bridge weight is lightened as well. The Anji Bridge has a segmental deck and the parapets are engraved with dragons and other animals. Its construction started in A.D. 595 and was completed in A.D. 605. Up to now it has survived for 1387 years.

Guangzi Bridge (guǎng jì qiáo 广济桥):
Guangzi Bridge (literally Great Charity Bridge), also known as Siangze Bridge (xiāng zǐ qiáo 湘子桥) is situated at east urban Chaozhou (cháo zhōu 潮州), China. The Hang River (hán jiāng 韩江) has been crossed by the Guangzi Bridge for over 800 years. The old bridge was the first opening bridge in the world.
The Guangzi was originally a boat bridge built in 1170 AD in Southern Song Dynasty (nán sòng 南宋) with the length of 518 metres (1,700 ft). Later construction of piers and framework started from both banks of the river on which it was moored, and a full 200 years later the Guangzi Bridge, a floating section of 18 supporting wooden boats in between two beamed sections, was completed. When necessary the floating section can be disconnected for the passage of big boats, an innovation that set a precedent in bridge-building history. There are two iron cows standing at both ends of the bridge, in the hope of protecting the bridge from the flood damage. A feature that makes the bridge particularly outstanding is that its two beamed sections resemble waterside streets with 24 different styles' pavilions and towers on the 24 piers for doing business, which become a special view on the bridge.

 guangzi bridge
 lugou bridge
Guangzi Bridge (guǎng jì qiáo 广济桥)
Lugou Bridge (lú gōu qiáo 卢沟桥)

Lugou Bridge (lú gōu qiáo 卢沟桥):
The Lugou Bridge across the Youngding River (yǒng dìng hé 永定河) is located at Wanping County (wǎn píng xiàn 宛平县), 15 kilometers away from Guang'anmen (guǎng ān mén 广安门), Beijing. The project began in A.D. 1188 and was completed in A. D. 1192 of the Jin Dynasty (jīn cháo 金朝). 212.2 meters long, 9.3 meters wide, it has 11 semicircular arches, ranging from 11.4 meters to 13.45 meters in span. The piers are from 6.5 meters to 7.9 meters wide; their pointed cutwaters upstream are inlaid with triangular iron bars, while the downstream sides are square in shape but without two angles. The parapets are divided into 269 sections with columns in-between, each column crowned with a carved lion.
When the bridge was first erected in the Jin Dynasty, all the lions were alike and very simple, but through the ages they were replaced each time by better ones, more delicately carved and different in style. Now, each lion has its individual posture. And more fascinating are the lion cubs. They are playing around their parents, clinging to the breast, squatting on the shoulder, nestling at the feet, or licking the face. These exquisite sculptures on the bridge and on the ornamental columns, which show the practical application of the aesthetic principle of unity and variation, have become a scene of attraction.

Another Version:
Jihong Bridge (jì hóng qiáo 霁虹桥):
jihong bridgeThere is another version that the Jihong Bridge, instead of Lugou Bridge, is one of the four most famous bridges in ancient times. The Jihong Bridge at Yongping County (yǒng píng xiàn 永平县), Yunnan Province (yún nián shěng 云南省) is the oldest and broadest bridge with the most iron chains in China today. Spanning the Lanchang River (lán cāng jiāng 澜沧江), it is 113.4 meters long, 4.1 meters wide and 57.3 meters in clear span. The extant chain bridge was constructed in the year of 1475 and was named "Jihong Bridge". There are 16 bottom chains and a hand rail chain on each side. Every chain has 176 links, each 0.33 meters long and 3.9 kilograms in weight. The surface is paved with wooden boards for travelers' passage. The bridge is situated on the ancient road leading to India and Burma. The famous Italian traveler Marco Polo and the Ming Dynasty's (míng cháo 明朝) traveller Xu Xiake(xú xiá kè 徐霞客) as well as the Ming Dynasty's Emperor Yongli (yǒng lì huáng dì 永历皇帝) all visited this bridge. It is also called the First Bridge in Southwest China, having rather high value for the study of the history of bridge construction in this country.


中国古代桥梁
      中国古代桥梁的辉煌成就举世瞩目,曾在东西方桥梁发展史中,占有崇高的地位,为世人所公认。在历史的长河中,中华民族建设了数以千万计的桥梁,成为华夏文化的重要组成部分。
      中国古代桥梁不外梁、拱、索、浮等类型。yongji bridge
      梁桥是我国古代最普遍、最早出现的桥梁,古时称作平桥。它的结构简单,外形平直,比较容易建造。把木头或石梁架设在沟谷河流的两岸,就成了梁桥。
      中国的拱桥始建于东汉中后期,已有一千八百余年的历史。它是由伸臂木石梁桥、撑架桥等逐步发展而成的。在形成和发展过程中又受墓拱、水管、城门等建筑的影响。因为拱桥的主要承重构件的外形都是曲的,所以古时常称为曲桥。
      索桥,也称吊桥、绳桥、悬索桥等,是用竹索或藤索、铁索等为骨干相拼悬吊起的大桥。古书上称为絙桥、笮桥、绳桥。多建于水流急不易做桥墩的陡岸险谷,主要建于西南地区。其做法是在两岸建屋,屋内各设系绳的立柱和绞绳的转柱,然后以粗绳索若干根平铺系紧,再在绳索上横铺木板,有的在两侧还加一至两根绳索作为扶栏。国外不少桥梁专家认为索桥首创于我国,指出“中国大约在3000年以前已开始建造吊桥”。
      浮桥古时称为舟梁。它用船舟来代替桥墩,故有“浮航”、“浮桁”、“舟桥”之称,属于临时性桥梁。由于浮桥架设简便,成桥迅速,在军事上常被应用,因此又称“战桥”。浮桥可说是大型桥梁的先辈。它是用船渡河的一个发展,又是向建造固定式桥梁的一个过渡,成为介于船和桥之间的一种渡河工具。
四大名桥
      赵州桥
      赵州桥又称“安济桥”,在河北省赵县城南2.5公里处,它横跨洨水南北两岸,建于隋朝大业shiqikong bridge年间(605-616年),是著名匠师李春建造,距今已有1300多年的历史。因桥体全部用石料建成,俗称“大石桥”。
      洛阳桥
      洛阳桥,原名“万安桥”,是我国现存最早的跨海梁式大石桥,位于福建省泉州东郊的洛阳江上,是世界桥梁筏形基础的开端,为全国重点文物保护单位。据史料记载,初建时桥长三百六十丈,宽一丈五尺,武士造像分立两旁。造桥工程规模巨大。结构工艺技术高超,名震四海。洛阳桥的建造,是对世界桥梁科学的一大贡献。
      广济桥
      广济桥位于广东省潮州市古城东门外。横跨浩瀚的韩江,居闽粤交通要津,以其“十八梭船廿四洲”的独特风格,被著名桥梁专家茅以升誉为“世界上最早的启闭式桥梁”。该桥集梁桥、拱桥、浮桥于一体,是我国桥梁史上的孤例。桥墩上建有形式各异的廿四对亭台楼阁,兼作经商店铺,故有“廿四楼台廿四样”、“一里长桥一里市”之美称。
      卢沟桥
      卢沟桥亦作芦沟桥,在北京市西南约15公里丰台区永定河上,是北京市现存最古老的石造联拱桥。永定河旧称卢沟河,桥亦以卢沟命名。始建于金大定二十九年(1189年),明正统九年(1444年)重修。清康熙时毁于洪水,康熙三十七年(1698年)重建,如今永定河上已经没有水了。卢沟桥全长267米,宽7.6米,最宽处可达9.5米。有桥墩十座,共11孔,整个桥体都是石结xihu bridge构,关键部位均有银锭铁榫连接,为华北最长的古代石桥。天下名桥各擅胜场,而卢沟桥却以高超的建桥技术和精美的石狮雕刻独标风韵,誉满中外,实属古今世界上一大奇观。
      霁虹桥(四大名桥中的另一说法)
      在距保山市50公里的澜沧江畔,在古老的埔南古道兰津渡口上,有一座明成化十一年(公元1475年)修建的霁虹铁索桥。此桥用铁链连接,其长约106米,宽3.5米,高20多米,跨径为60米,所用铁链15根,绞链176扣,铁链环扣每扣长一市尺,重七八市斤。桥面铺垫横直两层木板通行。经有关专家考证,霁虹桥是世界上最古老的铁索桥。在古代,此桥是“蜀身毒道”的要冲,是我国与缅甸、印度乃至西亚交流的重要通道。

 

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