The Iconic Bridges of Lisbon and Porto, Photo Essentials on your Portuguese City Break.
Whether designed by a world-renowned architect, named after a legendary explorer or celebrated for its span, steeped in history, the bridges of Lisbon and Porto have fascinating stories to tell.
Often compared to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, not least for its similar colouring, the Ponte 25 de Abril is a distinctive suspension bridge spanning the River Tejo, connecting Lisbon with the district of Almada, situated on the left bank. Dating back to 1966, the bridge was originally named the Ponte Salazar after the then Prime Minster of Portugal, however was rechristened in 1974 when it became the Ponte 25 de Abril, in commemoration of the Carnation Revolution. Measuring over 2,300 metres, the Ponte 25 de Abril is considered the 23rd largest suspension bridge worldwide and serves both road and rail traffic.
Crossing the River Tagus meanwhile is the impressive Ponte Vasco da Gama, a cable-stayed bridge flanked by viaducts. Opened in 1998 to coincide with the Expo 98 taking place in Lisbon, the bridge was named after the famous explorer, Vasco da Gama, in celebration of the 500th anniversary of his discovery of the sea route from Europe to India. At 17.2km long, the Ponte Vasco da Gama is considered Europe’s longest bridge, some eight times as long as the 25 de Abril and comprises six lanes of traffic.
To the north of Lisbon is the famous wine town of Porto and regarded by many as the emblem of the city is the Ponte de Dom Luis I, designed by the engineer, Teófilo Seyrig, a student of Gustave Eiffel. Completed in 1886 and measuring just shy of 400 metres long, the bridge’s distinctive arch is still considered one of the world’s largest to be constructed of forged iron. Today it serves both pedestrians and the metro service, connecting Vila Nova de Gaia and the Garden of Morro with central Porto and its cathedral in particular.
Also spanning the River Douro is the Ponte Dona Maria, also known as the Ponte Maria Pia, unveiled ten years after the Dom Luis I and perhaps even more famous. Named after King Luis’ wife, the wrought-iron bridge was designed by Gustave Eiffel himself (before he built the Eiffel Tower) and was considered for a time to have the world’s largest bridge span. No longer in service since 1991, the Ponte Dona Maria is regarded not only as a national monument in Portugal, but has also been designated an ‘International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark’ by the American Society of Civil Engineers.