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China opens world’s greatest, Israeli-made, glass bridge

Designed by architect Haim Dotan, the transparent walkway is 1,410 feet long and 1,000 feet high

China's Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon bridge (YouTube screenshot)
China's Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon bridge (YouTube screenshot)

China will open the world’s highest and longest glass-bottomed bridge this weekend, designed by Israeli architect Haim Dotan.

The bridge is 6 meters (20 feet) wide, 430 meters long (about 1,410 feet) and hangs 300 meters (almost 1,000 feet) high above a ravine in southern China’s Hunan province. Authorities plan to hold fashion shows on the stunning crossing, and have built a platform for bungee jumpers.

Located in Zhangjiajie National Park, which is said to have inspired James Cameron’s film Avatar, it was completed in December at a cost of $3.4 million.

Most remarkably of all, it is fitted with 99 huge three-layer glass panes through which visitors can glimpse the terrifying drop below.

Though many will no doubt be concerned for their safety on the walkway, Chinese officials have made repeated assurances that the bridge is entirely safe. To prove the point, in June they staged an event in which a glass pane was repeatedly bashed with sledgehammers, then driven over with a car full of passengers.

The glass did indeed hold.

Israeli architect Haim Dotan (YouTube screenshot/Channel 1)
Israeli architect Haim Dotan (YouTube screenshot/Channel 1)

Dotan told Wired he had initially balked at the notion of constructing a bridge over the gorge.

“‘Why do you want a bridge? It’s too beautiful,'” he recalls telling developers. Finally, “I told him, ‘We can build a bridge but under one condition: I want the bridge to disappear.'”

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