Long Bien bridge, spanning the width of the Red River at over 1.6 km, stands in Hanoi as a symbol of the achievements of technology in the early 20th century, of longevity, beauty, and historical values past and future, and cultural heritage for a growing Hanoi to reflect upon. Learn more: Hanoi tours
It has been claimed that Gustave Eiffel designed the bridge, but he was not involved at all.
The architectural firm responsible was actually Daydé & Pillé, overseen by Governor- General Paul Doumer, for whom the bridge was named. However, the Vietnamese called it cầu Sông Cái (Bridge of the Mother River), or its eventual name, cầu Long Biên (Bridge of the Intersecting Dragons). According to legend, a dragon appeared over the waters as this town was formed. Construction began in 1898 and ended in 1902; the bridge opened to traffic in 1903.
The bridge was the first to cross the Red River, which can be quite ferocious and unpredictable, shattering dikes, flooding inhabited land, and swallowing buildings whole. It was quite controversial, and criticized by the French and Vietnamese from conception to construction, as they thought the bridge was simply not feasible. Critics were shocked when the bridge was finally complete.
In 1946, as the start of the resistance against the French, the people of Hanoi turned the city into a battlefield for sixty days. The defenders eventually had to evacuate. Over a thousand people quietly and safely crossed the river beneath the bridge, right below French soldiers armed with guns and woolen coats, shivering in the cold and rainy night. As the war went on, the bridge was repeatedly bombed, repaired, and zealously guarded.
Today, Long Bien bridge is no longer an artery of transportation. However, it continues to be
a picturesque sightseeing point, a historical relic, and an architectural marvel.