The World's Highest Bridge Is Beautiful (Just Don't Look Down)

The Duge Beipanjiang Bridge hangs over the valley below in spectacular fashion. CCTV+/YouTube

Bridges have a way of captivating our imagination, grand structures that hang improbably against gravity. But no marvel of engineering may be more picturesque than the newly completed Duge Bridge, part of the the G56 Hangzhou–Ruili Expressway, which links two spectacular cliffs in a remote region of China.

The bridge spans 4,400 feet across a dramatic valley, but it's the distance below that truly makes it impressive. It suspends a road 1,854 feet above the Beipan River, making it the highest bridge in the world. That's more than 200 feet higher than the Sidu River Bridge, its nearest competitor, which is also in China.

It may seem like an exercise in grandeur, rather than practicality, to put a bridge in such a remote place, but it's a critical section of highway that links the cities of Qujing and Liupanshui. Travel time between the two cities has now been reduced by up to three hours thanks to the bridge.

The expanse that the bridge connects is awe-inspiring, to say the least. (Although if you're fearful of heights, you may want to keep your eyes from peering to the side while driving across it.)

Construction on the bridge began in 2011 and it was completed in September 2016, but it wasn't opened to traffic until this month, reports NBC News.

China now owns 15 of the 20 highest bridges in the world. Clearly they're cornering the market in this category. By comparison, the highest bridge in the United States, the Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado, is roughly 900 feet lower than the Duge. The Royal Gorge Bridge was the highest bridge in the world until as recently as 2001, but it now ranks a meager 17th.

For a truly breathtaking look at the Duge Bridge, check out this short video above highlighting the span, filmed before construction was completed.