Four Famous Bridges in Ancient China-Guangji Bridge & Lugou Bridge
China is the home of bridges and was dubbed "the country of bridges" in ancient times. The culture of bridges in China started in the Sui Dynasty and reached its peak in the Song Dynasty. Many of China's ancient bridges are pioneering works in the world bridge history. The typical architectural art of a bridge is perfectly demonstrated by four famous bridges from ancient China.
Guangji Bridge (Xiangzi Bridge)
Guangji Bridge is one of the four famous bridges in ancient China and is also known as Xiangzi Bridge. It was built in the Song Dynasty outside the east gate of Chaozhou ancient city, Guangdong Province. The bridge now has a length of over 500 metres with 13 bridge piers on the east bank and 11 on the west bank. Initially, there were only 10 piers in total but due to the river, the east side and west side could not connect so people had to cross the gap by boat.
Then in the Ming Dynasty, the number of piers increased to 24 and the gap was narrowed. Moreover, the builders connected 18 boats to form a pontoon bridge. The pontoon bridge opened when boats travelled through and closed for people to cross the river. Thus, Guangji Bridge became the first bridge in the world that could be opened and closed. In the Ming Dynasty, many varieties of pavilions were built on the piers. Since then, Guangji Bridge has been famous for its 18 boats and twenty four pavilions, which is another reason why it is ranked as one of the four famous bridges in ancient China.
Lugou Bridge was built in 1189 in the southwest of Beijing, crossing the Yongding River with a length of 266.5 metres and a width of 7.5 to 9.3 metres. Lugou Bridge is the oldest stone arch bridge in Beijing and is regarded as one of the four famous bridges in ancient China. There are 10 piers and 11 apertures on the bridge and key positions are connected by silver and iron tenons.
Lugou Bridge is famous for the many stone lions on its 281 white marble balusters with the lions being another contributing factor as to why the bridge ranks on the list as one of the four famous bridges in ancient China. The lions vary in design as some lie still, some play vigorously, some wave their claws and some shows their teeth. There are lion cubs around some of the bigger lions, climbing on male lions' backs, leaning on female lioness' legs, all of which are beautifully carved. In 1962, the lions were counted, with the official total being 485. However in 1979, after a recount, the official total increased to 501.
As one of the four famous bridges in ancient China, Lugou Bridge has an abundance of historical significance. There is a white marble tablet with Emperor Qian Long's inscription, reading "Lu Gou Xiao Yue", literally meaning moon above Lugou Bridge before dawn, which expresses Emperor Qian Long's adoration of the beautiful scenery. Lugou Bridge was also where the Anti-Japanese War started.