The Bridges of Calatrava

What is is about bridges that so excites our souls? Is it the promise of a gateway to another place? Is it the thrill of crossing above bodies of water suspended only by wires?

From the romantic novel Bridges of Madison County focused on covered New England bridges to the thrill at  one day traversing the world’s highest/longest bridge, the Millau Viaduct in France, I am sucker for bridges.

And lately, I have been on a Calatrava tear.  Santiago Calatrava is one of the world’s great architects whose work is primarily known in Spain but his sexy, soaring modern museums and bridges can be found in cities around the world (even Milwaukee!). His works are like stringed instruments— delicately balanced with strands of wire like tightly wound guitar or harp strings. On our trip to Seville, we were fortunate to stay at a hotel on Cartuja Island right next to his Alamillo bridge on the quiet side of Seville and it was exquisite morning and night as the light played on its graceful shape.

But even here, in California, one can delight in a Calatrava Bridge. It’s right on the way to the Oregon border and we sandwiched our June trip to Ashland Shakespeare Festival with stops at the Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay in Redding each way. The bridge has turned a sleepy turnout into a destination for architecture junkies and wedding couples alike. It’s a short span bridge across the Sacramento River  and just a minute off the 5 Freeway. So worth the detour and there’s a refreshment stand nearby, making it the perfect mid-point stretch your legs between S.F. and Ashland. The plucky leaders of Redding invited Calatrava to design their bridge and he accepted the commission and gave them a brilliant jewel of engineering. You can even play music by thrumming its slender struts.

If you fall for Calatrava like I did, you’ll soon find more of his work in NYC as he has been commissioned to design the Path Terminal at Ground Zero.  And if you happen to to travelling to Spain, visit his modernistic, soaring museums in Vallencia. That’s on my bucket list for my next Spain trip!

And if you are a true bridge lover, the bridges of San Francisco aren’t too shabby either!

Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay, Redding, California
Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay, Redding Image via Wikipedia

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