Precious Belt Bridge
The Precious Belt Bridge (simplified Chinese: 宝带桥; traditional Chinese: 寶帶橋; pinyin: Bǎo dài qiáo) is a Chinese stone arch bridge located near the city of Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China. The Precious Belt Bridge is located at the intersection of the Grand Canal and Dantai Lake, about 2.5 kilometer south east of Suzhou.
The first construction of the bridge dates back to the year 816 AD, during the mid Tang dynasty. According to written accounts, the bridge derives its name from the local prefect Wang Zhongshu, who in a selfless act had sold his precious belt in order to help finance its construction. Since then, it has been reconstructed several times. The current structure of the Precious Belt Bridge is a Ming dynasty era reconstruction of 1446 AD, during the reign of the Zhengtong Emperor.
John Barrow, while attached to the British Macartney Embassy in 1793, visited the Precious Belt Bridge during the diplomatic mission to China. He accurately described the bridge's length and the central arches being of greater height than the rest.
The bridge was included on the list of national monuments (resolution 5-285) in 2001.
The bridge's span is 317 m (1,040 ft) long and has a width of 4.1 m (13 ft), with a total of 53 arches in its span. The three central arches are enlarged to allow for the passage of - by historical standards - larger river vessels without masts. The average span of each arch is 4.6 m (15 ft).
- Needham, Volume 4, 174.
- Needham, Joseph (1986). Science and Civilization in China: Volume 4, Part 3. Taipei: Caves Books, Ltd.
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