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Bridges In Myths & Legends
Whether it be garden bridges, road bridges or bridges between realms, they appear in a suprising amount of myths and legends. Most people have heard of the Three Billy Goats Gruff who went over a bridge with a troll beneath, but what about the more obscure stories?
Devils bridge is a village in Ceredigion, Wales. It is well known for it's unique bridge which has three separate bridges built on top of each other, instead of the previous bridges being demolished.
Legend says that the original bridge was built after an old woman named Megan noticed that her cow had somehow made it to the other side of a river. This being her only cow and only source of income, Megan was very upset and worried. An old monk appeared behind her asking what was wrong, and after explaining the situation, he offered to build her a bridge. All that he wanted in return was the first living creature to cross the bridge after it was finished. Once finished, Megan threw a loaf of bread across the bridge which her dog chased after. She thanked him and told him that he could take her dog. He replied telling her that the dog was no good to him and vanished right in front of her. That's when she knew for sure that she had bested the Devil.
Devils Bridge - Ceredigion, Wales
In Norse mythology, Gjallarbrú is a bridge which spans the river Gjöll in the underworld. It is described as a a covered bridge which is “thatched with glittering gold”. It appears prominently in a story of Baldr, in which a son of Odin, Hermod, is sent to retrieve a fallen God from the underworld. When he arrived at the bridge he was challenged by the giant maiden Modgud who demanded that he state his name and business before allowing him to pass.
Located in Scotland, Overtoun Bridge was built in 1895. This bridge is known as Dog Suicide Bridge. This structure has been the site of a murder and an attempted suicide, but mainly it is known for a large number of dogs falling or jumping from the bridge. Many people believe that there are paranormal causes for these deaths, whether it be them seeing a ghost, or being possessed. However, research suggests that the dogs are in fact being attracted to scents or sounds of animals such as mice, squirrels or minks.
© Overtoun Bridge - Scotland - photo courtesy of Dave Souza
Rama Setu, also known as Adam's Bridge, is an underwater bridge made of a chain of limestone shoals, between Pamban Island off the north- western coast of Sri Lanka. It is suggested that this bridge was above ground until the 15th Century. Hindus believe that this bridge was constructed by Lord Rama and his monkey army. This myth states that he had to build the bridge in order to travel to his wife, Sita, in Sri Lanka, to rescue her from kidnappers.
Rama Setu (Adam's Bridge) - Sri Lanka
Bifröst appears in Norse mythology. It's a burning rainbow that stands between Midgard (Earth) and Asgard, the realm of the Gods. Also known as Asabru (Bridge of Gods), Bifröst was magically constructed from water, fire and air. It is said that the Gods use the bridge to travel to and from Earth.
The Fairy Bridge
The Fairy Bridge can be found in the Isle of Man. It is a small bridge located between Santon and Malew. Superstition says that you should greet the fairies before crossing the bridge and it is considered unlucky not to greet them. Buses even make an announcement as they pass the bridge telling their passengers to honour tradition and say hi to the fairies.
© Fairy Bridge - Isle of Mann - photo courtesy of Kevin Rothwell
Cry Baby Bridge
Cry Baby Bridge is actually a nickname which has been given to many bridges in the U.S. Including bridges in Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, Maryland, South Carolina, Texas and Utah. Most of these bridges are said to have had babies die on the bridge or in the water below. This has led to a lot of people claiming that they can hear a baby crying when crossing over the bridges. Each of the bridges has it's own story.
© Cry Baby Bridge, Egypt Road, Ohio - photo courtesy of Dalemccartney
In Zoroastrianism Chinvat bridge is often referred to as the bridge of judgement or bridge of the requiter. This is the sifting bridge which separates the living from the dead. Legend has it that the bridge is guarded by two four-eyed dogs and all souls must cross it upon death. One interpretation of this bridge is that, similarly to As-Sirāt, if a person has been bad in life, the bridge will appear narrow and a demon will emerge and drag them into the druj-demana, also known as the House of Lies, and suffer an eternity of punishment. If the person has lived a good life, the bridge will be wide and the Daena, a spirit representing revelation, will appear and lead them to the House of Song which is the equivalent of Heaven.
Charles bridge is a tourist attraction in Prague. It is said that St. John of Nepomuk was a court priest of King Wenceslas IV and he was thrown off this bridge for not revealing confessions of the king's wife. There is a ritual often performed on the bridge which is said to bring good luck and happiness. To gain this good luck, you should touch the image of St. John of Nepomuk with all fingers on your left hand, and place your right foot in a certain place
Charles Bridge - Prague
Bank Bridge in Saint Petersburg is held up by 4 griffin statues. There are many legends around regarding bringing wealth and good luck to those who cross the bridge. Shaking a pocket with change in while crossing the bridge will bring your wealth, while those who are deeply in love will be able to see the griffins leave the bridge and fly above the city.
© Bank Bridge, St. Petersburg - photo courtesy of Matvyei Duglasovich
In Islam, As-Sirāt is the extremely narrow bridge which every human must pass on the Yawm ad-Din to enter Paradise. Legend says that the bridge is as thin as a hair and as sharp as the sharpest knife or sword. Hell fires burn below and burn the sinners as they cross to make them fall, but those who have led a good life are transported across the bridge as quickly as their good deeds allow, to reach Hauzu'l-Kauser, the lake of abundance or paradise.
There is a small statue in St. Petersburg, of a hare on a wooden podium in the water near this bridge which people often throw coins at for good luck. Legend has it that it was built because of one rabbit who tried to escape a flood and jumped onto a boat of Peter the Great. It has now become a monument dedicated to the St. Petersberg Floods.
Ioannovskiy Bridge - St. Petersburg
Crim Dell Bridge
This wooden bridge can be found on a college campus in Williamsburg, Virginia. It is known to be a very romantic spot and is the center of several myths and traditions. One of which being that if you cross the bridge with your lover and kiss at the crest of it, you will be together forever. However if you wish to be alone forever, you can cross the bridge by yourself.
Crim Dell Bridge, Williamsburg, Virginia
Which one was your favourite? And have we missed any bridges which you find interesting? Leave us a comment below to let us know!