Images of a bending, glass-bottomed bridge in China are going viral because it looks too good to be true. Zhejiang province’s Ruyi bridge really does look more like it belongs in the movie Avatar than it does on Earth, but then again, China is known for constructing some pretty cool bridges.
After much oohing and aahing, this marvel of architecture and of engineering was finally confirmed to be real by myth-busting site, Snopes.
The fantastical bridge has, in fact, been open to visitors since September 2020. But outside of China it seemingly hadn’t garnered all that much attention until former Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield, posted a mystical video of it on Twitter in November last year, by when over 200,000 visitors had already graced its footpaths.
As the official Zhejiang province’s website cites, this undulating piece of architecture was designed by He Yunchang, a steel structure expert at the China Metal Structure Association. He Yunchang was also involved in the design of other impressive structures, notably Beijing’s “Bird’s Nest,” which was part of the 2008 Olympic Games.
Ruyi bridge sits 140 meters high above the Shenxianju Valley, spanning its 100 meter-long divide. It’s made up of three wavy bridges and part of its deck is made of glass — something only hardy visitors would dare step onto.
Roughly translated, the official Zhejiang Shenxianju Scenic Area explained on the local site Weibo (in Mandarin) “The rigid and soft shape is perfectly integrated with the natural scenery of the fairy house, just like a jade ruyi in the sky, and like a fairy draped silk. The painting is like a screen, and when seen from a distance, it is full of movement in the mountains, and it also carries beauty and good fortune.”
It sounds like the design of the bridge was meant to make it blend in with its natural environment, and was also inspired by the “ruyi” shape, which is curved and symbolizes power and good fortune in Chinese folklore.
It’s an impressive bridge that joins the ranks of many other mind-bending bridges in China like this glass bridge in Guangdong province, the Grand Canyon skywalk in Zhangjiajie, and the Tianmen skywalk. There’s certainly a glass theme going on in China, and why not, it makes for better viewing and for an immersive experience — just not for the fainthearted.