Zhangjiajie, a city in the Northwest of China’s Hunan province, is home to 1.5 million inhabitants but over an area of 9,518 km2, i.e., the equivalent of a large French department (in China, the city is an administrative concept).

A region inviting contemplation

On its territory lies the National Forest Park of the same name, which together with the Tianzi Mountains and the Suoxi Valley, is the region of panoramic and historical interest of Wulingyuan, classified since 1992 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park inspired James Cameron for his film Avatar 2.

Also, a glass bridge

Zhangjiajie is also about a glass bridge built in this park and opened in 2016 (Ill. 1). In fact, it is not totally made in glass, contrary to what the promotion would suggest (Ill. 2).

Ill. 1. A bridge… of glass (Cl. Philippe Violier, 20 May 2019) Ill. 2. Effective promotion! (cl. Philippe Violier, 20 May 2019)
Ill. 2. Effective promotion! (cl. Philippe Violier, 20 May 2019)

It is a suspension bridge whose deck is paved with windows through which the bottom of the gorge can be seen (Ill. 3).

Ill. 3. A suspension bridge (Cl. Philippe Violier, 20 May 2019)

This is sure to give the thrill, especially for people subject to vertigo. But for others it is great fun (Ill. 4).

Ill. 4. For those not subject to vertigo, the bridge is an opportunity for photographic prowess (Cl. Philippe Violier, 20 May 2019)

A complete circuit (Ill. 5) was created starting from a parking lot to a monumental entrance, by an upward path.

Ill. 5. Map of the loop of the “Zhangjiajie Great Canyon” (Cl. PhViolier, 20 May 2019)

Visitors are welcomed in a reception building, where a model is displayed (Ill. 6), and are asked not to carry their cameras deemed likely to create irreversible damage in the event of a fall. Lockers are available to store them.

Ill. 6. Model of the Zhangjiajie Suspension Bridge in the lobby of the reception building (Cl. Philippe Violier, 20 May 2019)

From there, the bridge can be taken. Then on the other bank, the route continues with a pathway built along the walls of the gorge (Ill. 7).

Ill. 7. Pathway along the wall (Cl. Philippe Violier, 20 May 2019)

It is equipped with lifts (Ill. 8) and panoramic platforms. The parking lot can be accessed from there.

Ill. 8. Access to lifts installed along the wall (Cl. Philippe Violier, 20 May 2019)

This achievement is a testament to the position of a society that has recently embraced tourism. The equivalent for the Alps was the creation, at the beginning of the 20th century, of railway lines with impressive works of art, the construction of which would seem unthinkable today.

Philippe VIOLIER