Scared of heights? Don’t visit China’s latest architectural marvel, the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge. The world’s highest and longest glass bridge has officially opened to the public in Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon in China’s Hunan Province.
The bridge spans an impressive 430 meter distance between two cliffs. The six meter wide structure hangs over a 300 meter deep valley. The bridge was designed by famed Israeli architect, Haim Dotan. Dotan is responsible for a number of record breaking and tradition shattering commercial and residential projects in Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
But how safe is Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge? Builders insist the strengthened glass panels that make up the bridge are 100% structurally sound. They were so confident in the bridge that they invited journalists to attempt to smash the glass in a public safety demonstration. They even had a car drive over the bridge to further prove their point.
Despite the strength of the glass, safety precautions are being carried out. Only 800 visitors are permitted on the bridge at any one time and visitors are limited to 8000 per day. High heeled stiletto shoes have been banned from Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge as an extra assurance for the protection of the glass.
Selfie sticks have also been banned, but is that to protect the glass or protect selfie stick users from the rage of other annoyed visitors?
Those who hold safety concerns do have a right to be worried. Last October, in nearby Henan province, the dangers of glass walkways were revealed. A mountainside skywalk in Yuntaishan Scenic Park was found to have cracks in it just two short weeks after opening.
Upon discovering the cracks, panicked visitors were seen screaming and running back to solid ground. Park officials insisted that the cracks on the glass walkway were only superficial and were not a legitimate safety concern. However, the tourists who discovered those cracks likely disagreed.
So far, the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge has been immensely popular. Thousands of visitors have lined up for hours for the chance to walk across the world’s highest and longest glass bridge. It is likely this number will swell as images and videos taken from the bridge begin to circulate.
Another reason we’ll see more visitors heading to the Zhangjiajie bridge? Plans are in place to offer bungee jumping for brave bridge visitors. This will make Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge the highest bungee jump in the world.
Attracting a less adrenaline-powered crowd, the bridge also plans to host fashion shows making it one of the tallest runways in the world.
Visitors to the Zhangjiajie bridge will find lots of other natural and architectural wonders in the area. Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon has long been a popular tourist destination in Hunan Province thanks to its natural beauty.
It is rumoured to be the inspiration behind the scenery of James Cameron’s “Avatar.” Another attraction opened this August in Zhangjiajie for those not quite ready to try out the bridge. A smaller glass skywalk, only 100 meters in length, has opened cliffside on Tianmen Mountain.
UPDATE: Due to its popularity, the Zhangjiajie bridge was forced to close after only being opened two short weeks. Park officials spoke about the urgent need to upgrade the bridge when explaining the closure to the public.
These upgrades are most likely needed to accommodate the almost 800,000 daily visitors the bridge has received – 10 times the amount it can currently hold in a single day.
After closing down for the much needed facility upgrades and maintenance on September 5th, the bridge re-opened on September 30th. The world’s highest and longest glass bridge is once again open to the adrenaline-seeking public.