The world’s highest and longest glass bridge, the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Bridge, is set to open in Hunan, China this month.
Touted as the next ‘Wonder of the World’ by Chinese officials, the bridge was designed by Israeli architect Haim Dotan. It stretches more than 1,400 feet (426m) across two cliffs, is 20 feet (6m) wide, and can hold 800 people at once.
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When he was first asked to build the bridge, Dotan, who was also behind Expo 2010 Shanghai’s Israel Pavilion, said no. According to him, the area was to beautiful to tamper with. When pressed, Dotan agreed to build it, under one condition: “‘We can build a bridge” he said, but “I want the bridge to disappear.”
The bridge, which already holds 10 world records, has a bungee platform at 853 feet high (260m) which will start running next year. Once completed, the jump will be higher than the record-breaking Macau Tower at 764ft. In addition, a 558-foot-long swing is expected to be dangled down from the structure towards the valley.
In comparison, the Grand Canyon Skywalk in the United States is 69 feet in length and stands 718 (218m) feet above the canyon floor. Canada’s Glacier Skywalk in Alberta, which opened last year, extends 115 feet (35m) from the cliff.
Zhangjiajie is a 56 square-kilometer designated tourist park inside the bigger Wulingyuan Scenic Area. It’s been open to the public since 2009 and is said to have been the inspiration behind the beautiful planet of Pandora in James Cameron’s 2009 film “Avatar”.
To allay the fears of any tourists considering walking across the bridge, the operators invited reporters to test the strength of its transparent glass panels.
BBC reporter Dan Simmons carried out the safety test by hitting a glass panel of the bridge more than a dozen times with a sledgehammer. While the top level of glass shattered, the panel itself remained intact, even holding 25 people in a single pane, while they jumped on it.
This is not the first glass skywalk in China. In Longgang National Geological Park in Chongqing there is a glass-bottomed bridge.