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12 astounding aqueducts

By: Matt Hickman on July 22, 2015, 11:21 a.m.
The Magdeburg Water Bridge in Germany

Photo: Jens Schlueter/AFP/Getty Images

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Magdeburg Water Bridge

When thinking of European aqueducts, we often think of the elegant and super-enduring arc bridges erected during the Roman Empire as a means of transporting fresh water to emerging settlements located largely in present-day Italy and on the Iberian Peninsula. In Germany, you'll also find the ruins of a Roman aqueduct in the form of Cologne's lengthy and largely underground Eiffel Aqueduct. However, when it comes to water bridges, it's a modern-day feat of engineering that rules the German aqueduct scene. And it's absolutely bananas.

Despite looking like an exceptional work of Photoshop trickery, the Magdeburg Water Bridge is indeed real. As for the science behind it, it's not all that complicated, really. Completed in 2003, the 112-foot wide navigable aqueduct can best be described as a freeway overpass for boats instead of cars; a river passing over a river; a "kilometer-long concrete bathtub." As the world's reigning longest navigable aqueduct (it spans over 3,000 feet), the half-billion euro Magdeburg Water Bridge links two vital shipping canals (Mittelland Canal and Elbe-Havel Canal) over the mighty River Elbe. Located within a bustling university town in Saxony-Anhalt that shares the same name, a visit to Germany's mind-blowing bridge for boats is a popular day trip from Berlin, which is an easy 90-minute drive from the northeast.