• Popular Pontes of Portugal – The Iconic Bridges of Lisbon and Porto

    by  • February 11, 2015 • Architecture, City Breaks, Lisbon, Porto

    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.

    Ponte 25 de Abril Bridge

    Ponte 25 de Abril Bridge

    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.

     

    Ponte Vasco da Gama Bridge

    Ponte Vasco da Gama Bridge

    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.

    Ponte de Dom Luis I Bridge

    Ponte de Dom Luis I Bridge

    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.

    Ponte Maria Pia Bridge

    Ponte Maria Pia Bridge

    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.

    About

    With a French grandmother, childhood holidays on the continent and a degree in French and Spanish, a love of languages and travel has always been in my blood. Fresh from university with an unfettered enthusiasm to show off my linguistic ability and first-hand knowledge of the world beyond the UK, I entered the travel industry and, 16 years on, I’m still there! With several years spent in the luxury sector planning escorted holidays across Europe for the American market, followed by an even longer tenure designing short breaks with a difference in the must-see cities of Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Amsterdam, Madrid, Prague, Florence, Brussels, Venice, Salzburg, Milan, Krakow and Berlin (to name but a few), it’s fair to say that Europe is my passion! Today my travels have taken me far beyond the boundaries of Europe with so many destinations still to discover, yet the continent abounds in such a wealth of treasures – historical and architectural, cultural and musical, gastronomic, artistic and linguistic – that its appeal, for me, will be eternal.