The Zhaozhou Stone Bridge

China is a country with more rivers, mountains and canyons. Bridges in various parts are of great numbers and great varieties. For the materials used, the bridges can be divided into wood, bamboo, stone or brick, glazed, iron and steel, glass and reinforced concrete. For shapes, they can be divided into pontoon, cable, boat, arch, pavilion, roofed, veranda-like, multi- span, and overpass bridges. Many bridges become wonders in Chinese history of bridge construction for their long history, unique shape, novel structure or huge scale. Over the Jiaohe River 45 kilometers south- east of Shijiazhuang in Hebei Province, north China, the Zhaozhou Bridge was built during 605-615 or the first year to 11th year of the Daye reign of the Sui Dynasty. Designed by Li Chun, this arch bridge has one span. It is 50.82 meters long and 9.6 meters wide and was built with 28 pieces of arch rocks. The net span is 37.02 meters. On each of the two shoulders of the main arch there are two spandrel arches. Its delicate design lessons the obstruction from the water and also reduces the pressure from the bridge itself. The design of its open shoulders wrote a new chapter in history of word bridge architecture and is an important contribution the Chinese working people have made to the world science and technology, in October 199 I, the US Civil Engineers Society selected the Zhaozhou Bridge the 12th milestone of international civil engineering history. The sign erected by the bridge has added luster to Chinese architecture of bridges.

The Gem Belt Bridge in Suzhou

On the bank of the Grand canal some seven kilometers southeast of Suzhou in Jiangsu Province. in east China. the Gem Belt Bridge was first built during 816 819 or from the 11th year to the 14th year of the Yuanhe reign of the Tang Dynasty. It was said the bridge was built with the money from the gem belt donated by Wang Zhongshu. a regional chief from the Tang Dynasty, So it has the name. Today. the major buildings were built in 1872 or the 11th year of the Tongzhi reign of the Qing Dynasty. This stone bridge has 53 spans and is 317 meters long and 4.1 meters wide. This bridge was built for the people who towed boats and is not as steep and tall as common arch stone bridges in southern areas of the Yangtze River. This bridge is multi-span, narrow and smooth and a wonder in history of bridge architecture in China and even in the world.