Da Nang, the largest economic and cultural center in central Vietnam, is a bustling port city boasting tranquil beaches, vibrant national parks, and a mélange of historical and cultural attractions. The Han River flows through the city’s center, with parks and walkways lining its banks. The urbane city center is along the west bank, home to contemporary restaurants, shops, and bistros. Further west is commercial and residential areas leading toward the mountains. To the east, there are long stretches of beach along the Da Nang Bay, opening into the warm South China Sea. The architecture in Da Nang is a mix of traditional Vietnamese and French colonial designs due to the city’s brief occupation by France in 1858. There are stunning Buddhist and Hindu grottoes within the Marble Mountains and the elaborate Gothic-style Da Nang Cathedral, the most prominent Western church in the region.

Two examples of Da Nang’s rich architectural history: a temple within the Marble Mountains (right) and the Da Nang Cathedral, also known as the Pink Church.

Bridges are no exception when it comes to impressive architecture in Vietnam. Of the six that currently cross the Han River, the most spectacular is the illuminated, fire breathing (yes, fire breathing) Dragon Bridge or Cầu Rồng (Rong Bridge). Modeled after the flowing dragon from the Ly Dynasty, which ruled over Vietnam in the 11th and 12th centuries, the design symbolizes the history, contemporary architecture, and art in Da Nang. Construction of the bridge began on July 19, 2009, and was opened to traffic on March 29, 2013, to commemorate the 38th Anniversary of the liberation of Da Nang in 1975. The winning bid after a design competition was the US-based Ammann & Whitney Consulting Engineers with Louis Berger Group. Construction was undertaken by Company No. 508, an affiliate of Civil Construction Engineering Corporation No.5, and Bridge Company No. 75. The lighting and pyrotechnics were designed and installed by local engineers. Its unconventional design is both infrastructure and performance art.

The Dragon Bridge is illuminated with 2,500 high-power, color-changing LED lights.

“Its unconventional design is both infrastructure and performance art.”

Dragon Bridge is 666 meters long, 37.5 meters wide, and accommodates six lanes of traffic. The bridge is constructed with concrete supports and a regular concrete base that accommodates the six lanes of traffic. The dragon’s body is made of stainless steel plates supported by steel bars. At night, 2,500 separate color-changing LED lights to illuminate the bridge, making it visible from miles away. On weekends and during festivals, the bridge closes to traffic so that the Fire and Water Performace can take place. Like a scene from a story, the Dragon Bridge comes to life, spitting fire, then water, into the night sky from its great mouth. It is a dazzling sight and feature attraction of the city, easily viewable from along the riverbank parks, bars, and cafes.

The Dragon Bridge during the Fire and Water Performance

Although Dragon Bridge is a modern structure within Da Nang, it is steeped in tradition and history. The length of 666 meters and the peak height of 66 meters are no accident. The digit ‘6’ is considered lucky in Vietnamese culture, and dragons symbolize wealth and prosperity, making this a ‘lucky’ bridge to cross. As a whole, Dragon Bridge is an extraordinary feature in Da Nang city, representing its growth and development. Indeed, it is the primary access connecting the seaboard with the heart of the city, boosting tourism and commerce in this vibrant coastal city.

Doug. “Dragon Bridge – Da Nang, Vietnam.” Our Planet Images, 22 Nov. 2019, ourplanetimages.com/dragon-bridge-vietnam.

Kosowatz, John. “Dragon Bridge Breathes Fire into Economy.” ASME, 12 June 2013, www.asme.org/topics-resources/content/dragon-bridge-breathes-fire-into-economy.

Polina. “Dragon Bridge in Danang Spits Fire.” Vietnamchik.Com, 2 Aug. 2020, vietnamchik.com/en/da-nang/dragon-bridge.

VIETNAM.COM. “Da Nang.” VIETNAM.COM, www.vietnam.com/en/central-vietnam/cities/da-nang.html. Accessed 7 June 2022.

Photo Credits:
“dragon bridge” by cosmicwindblown1 is marked with CC0 1.0.
“Da Nang’s dragon bridge breathing fire” by Tino takes photosis licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
“Dragon bridge Danang Vietnam” by Gаme of light is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
“Dragon Bridge” by Kawa0310 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
“Marble Mountain, Vietnam” by enjosmith is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
“Đà Nẵng, Pink Church” by JingKe888 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

By arteblanc

Natasha Ashworth writes about art, fashion, and design regarding culture and society. She is a student of digital communications at Oregon State University.

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