Many of the great monuments left from antiquity — such as the Pyramids and the Sphinx in Egypt, and the Coliseum in Rome — were raised to glorify monarchy and power.
But there are other structures from long ago that were built for different purposes. When people began building bridges, civilization took a giant leap forward. The construction of bridges represented mobility, increased awareness of other cultures, and commercial opportunity. They helped make possible mega-cities in the ancient world in China and the Roman Empire, and as an unintended consequence, may have contributed to traffic congestion in modern cities, making some cities the worst to drive in.
The oldest bridges are marvels because of their use of local materials, curved arches, and sophisticated engineering techniques, and the fact that they have borne witness to so much history. Unfortunately others have been lost to natural disasters, such as floods and some of the worst earthquakes of all time, or wars.
The oldest bridges are found in China and areas of the former Roman Empire, such as Turkey, Greece, and Spain. You won’t find any bridges from the United States on the list. The oldest bridge in the U.S. is the Frankford Avenue Bridge, also known by other names, that was erected in 1697 in northeast Philadelphia.
24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of the oldest bridges still in use. Some bridges that are hundreds of years old are actually newer versions of even older structures that span gorges, estuaries, inlets, and rivers. Virtually all of the bridges on the list are well known and have had some kind of reconstruction work. They are included because the basic structure of the bridge from the time it was first built remains.