by TRT Thongnuan
29 February 2016
Bangkok was once called ‘Venice of the East’ for its considerable number of canals which were used as a major means of transportation before the road era. After the New Road, currently known as Charoen Krung Road, was constructed in the reign of King Rama IV, the demand for roads increased, so did the demand for land transportation. Canals were filled to constructs roads, while bridges were built to cross the remaining canals. A lot of concrete bridges were built in the reign of King Rama V. Many of them were later dismantled when canals were filled to build more roads while some of them have been in use and last for more than a hundred years. As The Chao Phraya River also flows past this amazing capital, river bridges are inevitable. Many bridges have been built to serve commuters’ increasing demand. It can be said that bridges are a truthful reflection of Bangkok’s people attachment to river life. Capitals all over the world pride themselves on having bridges as a landmark like The Tower Bridge in London, Charles Bridge in Prague, Pont Alexandre III in Paris or even The Harbor Bridge in Sydney. Bangkok is no exception.
There are several old bridges in the old quarter on Rattanakosin Island. Phan Fa Lilat and Makkhawan Rangsan Bridges are some of the bridges which are more than a hundred years of age and which were lavishly designed and decorated. Several other canal bridges, though small, depict the Bangkok history in the last 100 years. For river bridges, the Memorial Bridge (Rama I Bridge) was Bangkok’s first river bridge in 1932. Rama IX bridge was an instant hit when it was complete, once recorded as the world’s longest suspension bridge. Rama VIII was once the world’s longest asymmetrical bridge.
Though new bridges are being constructed to solve the hard-to-solve traffic problems in Bangkok, with far less stunning designs and delicate decorations, many marvelous bridges exist as classic structures against time adding elegance and immortality to this picture-postcard Bangkok.