Six-hundred feet above Shiniuzhai National Geological Park, China’s new glass-bottomed suspension bridge creaked and swayed in the wind as tourists made their way across, very slowly, some clinging to the guardrail or to one another, others crawling on all fours.
It’s a little scary, which is why perhaps it’s named Haohan Qiao, which translates to “Brave Men’s Bridge.” Architecture blogger Matt Hickman had another name for it, the “bridge I’d rather not cross when I come to it ….the biggest, baddest and most immobilizing glass-bottomed suspension bridge in all of China”
The structure, which opened to the public last week in China’s Hunan province, is 980 feet long suspended between two sheer cliffs. “Walkers see clear, stomach-churning views” of the ground below, reports the South China Morning Post. “If you’re brave enough to cross it, you won’t want to look down.”
The heart-stopping glass floor is not made of your average glass. It’s almost an inch thick and 25 time stronger than normal glass. The bridge is designed to withstand the elements and the weight of 800 visitors at a time, International Business Times reported.
“The bridge we build will stand firm even if tourists are jumping on it,” a construction worker who helped build the bridge told state-owned China News Service according to a CNN translation. “The steel frame used to support and encase the glass bridge is also very strong and densely built, so even if a glass is broken, travelers won’t fall through.”
Standing on makeshift planks, the bridge was built by only 21 workers who carried heavy bars and loads of concrete hundreds of feet to the bridge’s height, according to Global Times. “We started building the walkway standing on the few footholds we can find on the cliff,” the construction team manager told the publication. “The first step is to build a frame with steel pipes off the side of a cliff.”
The Haohan Bridge is the latest of several glass-bottomed tourist attractions, among them the Grand Canyon Skywalk, 2,000 feet above the bottom of the canyon, and the Glacier Skywalk in Canada’s Jasper National Park.
Another bridge is slated to open this year in Hunan province and reportedly will be the world’s highest and longest glass bridge, 1,400 feet long and almost 1,000 feet high.