Slauerhoffbrug Flying Drawbridge – Leeuwarden, Netherlands - Atlas Obscura
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Leeuwarden, Netherlands

Slauerhoffbrug Flying Drawbridge

This unique bridge physically lifts a piece of the road into the air to let boats pass by. 

The typical bridge in the Dutch town of Leeuwarden is a bascule bridge: when a boat approaches, one side of the bridge is hoisted up to make a 90 degree angle with the ground until the vessel passes by. This hinged style is consistent with all bridges in the town—except for one.

For reasons unknown, Leeuwarden’s Slauerhoffbrug “Flying Drawbridge” is perhaps the world’s only bridge to physically move the road out of the way by completely dissecting it from the bridge. As sailboats pass by, a massive, multistory pylon hoists a 2,500-square-foot piece of the road into the sky. After the boat passes through, the road is automatically squeezed back into its waiting crevice.

Every day, the Flying Drawbridge is raised and lowered 10 times, a unique process that takes approximately three minutes. Its unique, ingenious design is likely the result of the an effort to find a more efficient and innovative way to part the many bridges throughout the Netherlands.

But the Slauerhoffbrug Flying Drawbridge, named after the Dutch poet J. Slauerhoff, who was born minutes away in Leeuwarden, isn’t just practical. It’s also a work of symbolic art. The giant metal arm that hoists the road up is painted yellow and blue to represent the town’s yellow and blue striped flag.