Jun 5 2013

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Manmade marvels: Ingenuity at its finest

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Millau Viaduct

France’s Viaduc de Millau is the tallest bridge in the world. Photo: iStockphoto

We may not have jet packs yet, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have other amazing ways to travel. These engineering marvels take you over, under and up to make previously inaccessible areas easy to traverse. These manmade wonders aren’t just ingenious—they’re also convenient.

The Viaduc de Millau Bridge in France looks like something out of a futuristic film and is regarded as one of the greatest engineering achievements of all time. The cable-stayed bridge is the tallest in the world, reaching a height of 1,125 feet. The Viaduc took 17 years to build and stretches for a mile and a half over the picturesque Tarn River Valley near the town of Millau. Every May they shut down vehicle traffic for the Eiffage Millau Viaduct Race, an excellent chance to see the structure of the bridge up close and feel what it’s like to run more than a thousand feet above the ground.

The Channel Tunnel, also affectionately known as the “Chunnel,” is a 31-mile rail tunnel running underneath the waters of the English Channel. At its deepest point, this direct link between England and France is 250 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. The idea for a tunnel between the shores of the two countries had been circulating for more than a hundred years when construction finally began in 1988. Today it takes a mere half hour to cross the channel via train.

The Bailong Elevator in Zhangjiajie, China is the world’s tallest outdoor elevator. Built into the sheer face of a huge cliff, the Bailong’s glass cars take visitors up 1,070 feet in a little more than a minute. The area surrounding the elevator is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and those that take the ride can look out over lush forests and beautiful quartz peaks when they reach the observation deck at the end of their quick but steep journey.

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More About: Jamie Smith

Jamie Smith is a writer, traveler and lover of cities currently living in Austin, Texas. Follow her on Twitter at @shameonseamus.
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Posted on: June 5, 2013 | Tags: , , | Category: International Vacations

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