Bridge Symbolism: What do Bridges Symbolize? (13 Things…)

Among other things, bridges symbolize:

  • Transition
  • Communicating with God
  • Unity
  • Conquering Fear
  • Romance

Below are all 13 examples of bridge symbolism with explanations of each.

what do bridges symbolize

Bridge Symbolism

1. Transition & Change

The first and probably most compelling symbol of bridges is that of transition. The bridge takes you from one place to the next.

When you cross over a bridge, there’s often a sense that you’re literally transitioning from one location to the next. On one side of the bridge is one city or county and on the other side is a different one.

A bridge in a dream may therefore be a symbol that you’re going through a moment of transition and change.

Read Also: Change Metaphors

2. Travel

Bridges are primarily to facilitate travel. Their purpose is to get you from one point to the next.

They also facilitate travel that wouldn’t have been possible beforehand. Before the bridge was build, you may have been trapped to where you are. So, seeing a bridge in art or even dreams may be a symbol of the value we place on traveling and exploring new places.

Read Also: What do Doors Symbolize? and What do Chairs Symbolize?

3. A Meeting Point

A bridge can act as a meeting point between people who live in two different locations.

One bridge that comes to mind is one that crosses the border between Canada and the United States. It’s a meeting between two nations. Here, they can come together to communicate.

These meeting points might be points for transfer of goods or information. So as a symbol, it might be reminding you of the importance of communication.

When considering bridges as ‘meeting points’, they’re also often points where enemies meet. Rather than inviting others into your house, you meet at the threshold which becomes a neutral place for negotiation and discussion.

Related: Road Symbolism

4. Unity

Above I noted that bridges can be meeting points for enemies. They can be a neutral space for competitors.

But bridges can also be built as signs of unity. They can unify two pieces of land and allow free movement between them.

We also use the saying “build a bridge” as a phrase to refer to the idea of creating unity.

Lastly, you’ll often see wedding photos where the married couple are standing on a bridge. Here, the bridge is a symbol of the union between two people and two families.

5. Farewells

A bridge is a place where you will often say goodbye to people you love. Your family may travel with you to a bridge between two lands. They will hug you and say goodbye, but you’ll have to cross the bridge alone.

In this way, they’re very similar to airports and marinas.

People will also often go to the middle of a bridge and throw a reef or flowers off the bridge into the water below as a sign of farewell to dead loved ones. Watching the flowers float down the river adds to this sense of farewell – they are gone, never to return.

6. Connection to God

You will often see religious imagery that depicts bridges into the clouds.

We live in an earthly world where God is often hard to find. But, when you cross that bridge into heaven, you’re going to meet with him and be with him for eternity. You’re crossing a bridge to another realm where God reigns supreme.

Hence, images depicting people passing into the afterlife may regularly depict a bridge where the fog blurs our view of what’s on the other side (primarily because we humans don’t know what the other side looks like!)

Read More: Death Symbolism

7. A Lifeline

For people who feel trapped, finding a bridge can be an opportunity to cross over to somewhere new. It’s a lifeline.

In many movies (I’m thinking about Indiana Jones and The Lord of the Rings here), the heroes will often find a decaying old rope bridge. While it’s not the best option, it is a lifeline for escape for the heroes.

So, seeing a bridge in a dream could mean that you’re being given a lifeline and you should take it – cross the bridge to escape that sense that you’re trapped on an island with no escape.

bridge symbolism

8. Conquering Fear and ‘Overcoming’

Bridges can be scary for people, especially those with fear of heights.

But bridges have long been seen as places with a “fearsome underbelly”. We are told stories as children about trolls under bridges waiting to catch you as you cross.

So, you could see crossing a bridge as a symbol of overcoming fear. You walk across it trying not to look down for fear of heights. You cross over the top of something scary – a raging river or fearsome trolls?

Similarly, we will often tell someone to “build a bridge” as a euphemism for saying “get over it”.

9. Trust

Above, I talked about bridges as symbols of the need to conquer fear.

Central to that is also the issue of trust. You need to trust that the bridge will hold you up as you go across it. You need to trust the engineers who made it and your own skills to manage and confront whatever is on the other side of the bridge.

As a message in a dream, the bridge could be telling you to cross over to something new, even though you’re not sure what’s on the other side. Trust in the bridge to hold you up as you pass on to a new point in your life.

10. Liminality

I have spoken above about how bridges are meeting points, crossing points, and transition points.

But they’re not points where you spend too much time. People don’t live on bridges. They don’t generally have parties on bridges or call a bridge their home.

We call spaces of transition liminal spaces. A liminal space is a space of being ‘in between’ two things. You’re between the familiar and unfamiliar, the old and the new, and the past and the future.

11. Romance

For many years, people have painted bridges in romantic scenes. An arched bridge with lovers standing atop is common in imagery.

Similarly, there is a longstanding tradition of placing lovelocks on bridges around the world. Originating in Paris, people would get padlocks and lock them to bridges as signs of their love. The lock is attached to the bridge as a sign of your eternal love.

You will find lovelocks on romantic bridges all over the world.

12. A Break from the Past (Burning Bridges)

We also have the phrase ‘burning bridges’. This idiom means to turn your back on the past. If you burn a bridge, you can no longer cross it.

So, let’s say you upset someone somewhere. You might cross a bridge and burn it after you’re safely on the other side. Now, they can’t come after you but you also can never return.

If you leave your job and yell at your boss about how horrible he is, you’ll never be hired there again. You burned your bridges!

So, a burning bridge might be a sign to you that you cannot go back. You must go forward. There is no other option.

Read Also: Lighthouse Symbolism

13. New Beginnings

Once you have made your way across a bridge, you often feel a sense that you’ve reached a new place where there are countless new possibilities.

The crossing of the bridge is symbolic of throwing off the past and overcoming your fears. Once you’re across the other side, you’ve got a weight off your shoulders and excitement is budding inside of you.

The symbolism of the famous New Year’s Eve fireworks at Sydney Harbor Bridge works well here. The bridge is the location where people gather to farewell the previous year and celebrate the beginning of a new year.

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Conclusion

Bridges symbolize many things. Whether in art, architecture or dreams, we will generally see them as places of transition. You’re transitioning from the past to the future.

This transition often requires you to be bold and confident. You need to trust in your own ability to survive what’s on the other side of the bridge. You might also need to overcome fears of the unknown, heights, or the ‘trolls under the bridge’.

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