We humans sometimes seem to think we’ve got it all sown up as the premiere architects on this planet, but Nature is actually well ahead when it comes to constructing wonders of design emerging from the landscape. Take the arch, for example. While it was only a few millennia ago that humankind began to build these impressive structures, Mother Earth has been moulding them for millions of years.
1 Berry Head Arch, Canada
This magnificent sea arch is located on the Spurwink Trail, along the East Coast Trail. To get to the arch, find the East Coast Trail trailhead at Port Kirwan. From here, it is about a 4.75-mile one way hike to the arch. The hike is moderate but extreme caution is required at points where the trail skirts the edge of some rather high cliffs.
2 Delicate Arch, Utah, USA
The most widely-recognized landmark in Arches National Park, Delicate Arch is depicted on Utah’s license plates and is something of an international icon too. Known to early cowboys as ‘the Schoolmarm’s Bloomers’ due to its distinctive shape, the 52 feet tall freestanding arch was the site of controversy in 2006 when climber Dean Potter made the first recorded free solo ascent of the formation – an event the led to the banning of climbs on any named arch within the park year-round.
The longest of the numerous natural arches in Utah’s Arches National Park – indeed the longest true arch on earth – Landscape Arch is a phenomenal 290 feet in length. Just as phenomenal is the fact that at its thinnest point this slender arc of rock is only 6 feet thick. Since 1991, three large slabs of sandstone measuring 30, 47 and 70 feet long have fallen from Landscape Arch’s narrowest section, prompting the Park Service to close the trail that led beneath it. It could collapse at any time.
4 Durdle Door, United Kingdom
5 Moon Hill, China
This stunning natural arch just outside Yangshuo in southern China's Guangxi region gives the impression of a moon rising from the landscape. The hole is all that remains of a limestone cave. The arch is an impressive 165 feet in height.
6 Rainbow Bridge, United States
Rainbow Bridge in Utah is often described as one of the world's largest known natural bridges. It's difficult to imagine just how impressive this structure is without standing beneath it. More than 290 feet tall and nearly 275 feet across, this sandstone arch straddles a feeder canyon to the mighty Colorado River, improbably unbroken through time.
7 Pont d'Arc, France
Carved out by the Ardeche River, Pont d'Arc is a popular kayaking spot, and you can see why. This natural bridge is almost 200 feet wide and 175 feet high.
8 The Azure Window, Malta
This limestone sea arch on the Maltese island of Gozo was a popular spot for scuba divers, not to mention movies and TV shows. The Azure Window was featured in the original "Clash of the Titans" and the HBO TV series "Game of Thrones." Like all natural arches, however, the Azure Window had a lifespan, and it collapsed in March 2017. We're not sure how old the arch was, but some estimates put it at a mere 140 years old.
9 Immortal Bridge, China
This precarious rock bridge found on Mount Tai, a tilted fault-block mountain, is counterintuitively called the Immortal Bridge, though you probably wouldn't want to test your own mortality by crossing it.
10 Green Bridge of Wales, United Kingdom
This impressive natural sea arch is found in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in Wales. It gets it name from the vegetation that grows along its top. Today, it is one of the more famous landmarks in Wales, but like all arches it will one day collapse into the sea, something sped up by Hurricane Ophelia in October 2017. The storm damaged the arch, destroying some of its archway.