Reminds me of a Super NES game called Actraiser. Are you sure you weren't thinking of a SNES game?
You play some kind of god that can come down to Earth to smite evil in a very personal way. You also guide a number of communities in developing their villages into towns, while helping them seal evil. Sometimes these communities find sacred artifacts that then become part of your inventory.
Every town has two levels attached to it. You have to complete both in order to allow a town to achieve its full potential.
In the town screenshot above, you can see a couple bridges. I remember you had to fight some monsters in a platform level so that villagers could reach some special area, and that's where they learned how to build bridges so you could expand to the other side of the river.
I saw the edits to the question. Actraiser was released for the Super NES in 1990. Actraiser 2 was released in 1993, also for the Super NES, but unlike the first game it had no city-building elements. A third game for the series was planned for Sega consoles but it seems it never got released.
In the town building area, you control your assistant which happens to be an angel. The life meter has the word 'angel' written on its left. You can see the angel in the village screenshot, close to the plantation that is most to the left. I highlighted him in the screenshot below: