Zhaozhou Bridge was designed and built by famous craftsman Li Chun in Sui Dynasty 1400 years ago. It is by far the earliest and best-preserved open-spandrel arch bridge.
As the earliest open-spandrel arch bridge that’s been included by World Record Association, the bridge is among the“four treasures of North China”, the other three are the Cangzhou Iron Lion, Dingzhou Kaiyuan Temple Tower and the Buddha Statue of Zhengding Longxing Temple.
The bridge is 50.82 meters long, the span of its large stone arch in the middle measures 37.37 meters, 7.23 meters tall and 9.6 meters wide in the two ends. It also has scientific design and ingenious construction skill. The only 37.4-meter-long arch can be said the longest one in the world.
On the shoulders of the central arch are four paratactic small arches. The innovative design not only saves stone material and lowers the weight of the bridge, but also expands the water discharge channel by 16.5% in flood, so the sock to the bridge is reduced and protection increased. At the same time, the arch on arch design makes the bridge more beautiful.
The big arch is made of 28 interwoven lines of arches lengthways, thus forming a cambered aperture. Every arch ring can independently hold the wight above so one broken ring won’t affect other arch rings.
The delicate and innovative design is the first one in China, but also leads European countries by 1200 years.
In history, the bridge has withstood 10 floods, 8 wars and many earthquakes. The most serious one was a 7.6 degree earthquake in Xingtai on 8th March, 1966, the epicenter is only 40 kilometers away from Zhaozhou Bridge, but it it still safe and sound. The famous bridge expert Mao Yisheng mentioned that the fact that it can stand for 1400 years can explain everything, not to mention its interior structures.