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Spanning greater distances is a distinct measure of engineering prowess.
In terms of engineering, bridges are discussed by design or type (beam, arch, truss, cantilever, suspension, or moveable); length (usually expressed in terms of clear or overall span); and materials (stone, wood, cast and wrought iron, and what we use today - concrete and steel).
The purpose of this contextual essay is to provide parameters of value and significance so that we can focus our attention on those bridges - globally - that best illustrate the history of bridge building, and to encourage their preservation. The World Heritage Committee states that to be of World Heritage status a monument or site must be of outstanding universal value.
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Bridging rivers, gorges, narrows, straits, and valleys always has played an important role in the history of human settlement.
Since ancient times, bridges have been the most visible testimony of the noble craft of engineers.
A bridge can be defined in many ways, but Andrea Palladio, the great 16th century Italian architect and engineer, hit on the essence of bridge building when he said "...bridges should befit the spirit of the community by exhibiting commodiousness, firmness, and delight." In more practical terms, he went on to explain that the way to avoid having the bridge carried away by the violence of water was to make the bridge without fixing any posts in the water.
Since the beginning of time, the goal of bridge builders has been to create as wide a span as possible which is commodious, firm, and occasionally delightful.