Designer of the world’s longest glass bridge, Israeli architect, Haim Dotan, named his remarkable feat of engineered glass and steel – the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge in the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China – the Bridge of Courageous Hearts. It is not hard to see why!
Figure 1: A bird’s eye view of the Bridge of Courageous Hearts, Zhangjiajie national Forest Park, Hunan Province, China
At first glance it appears to be a fairly standard suspension bridge, although it is almost 300 metres above the canyon and 430 metres long. It is only when you realise that the entire floor is made from sheets of glass that it becomes something way out of the ordinary. it is worth looking at this short video on The Guardian website.
It was designed to carry 800 people at any one time and 8000 per day, but huge numbers of visitors – reportedly closer to 80,000 per day – have closed the bridge only 13 days after its opening on 20 August 2016.
It seems that China has a passion for such terrifying glass-bottomed staircases. Elsewhere in the same Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is the Coiling Dragon skywalk. It overlooks Tongtian Avenue, a road that snakes up the mountain through 99 hairpin bends.
Figure 2: Yuntai Mountain skywalk in Henan province, China.
Figure 3: Popular Yuntai Mountain skywalk in Henan province, China. Photograph: China Photo Press
The Yuntai Mountain Geological Park skyway is 1000 metres high and snakes around the face of the mountain, but in September 2015 when a visitor dropped a stainless steel cup a panel of glass broke (like a windscreen) with a loud bang that sent people running. As the walkway has several layers of 2.7 cm thick glass, no-one was in any danger and everyone was evacuated without incident, but the popular attraction was immediately closed for repairs.
For those who love adventure at great heights and gut-churning thrills without the real dangers that come with abseiling or mountain-climbing, this could be the best use of glass on the the planet. Just not for this scaredy-cat.