Winning bridges in Portugal

Dom Luis I bridge in Porto at night

We know that the subject of bridges may not excite a lot of people however, Portugal does have some of the most amazing examples in Europe. And one holds a Guinness World Record.

European Best Destinations has chosen 15 European bridges they consider are the most beautiful, three being in Portugal.

Admittedly none are in the Algarve; two are in Lisbon and the third is in Porto.

Ponte 25 de Abril

Ponte 25 de Abril (April 25 Bridge) was inaugurated in 1966 and was originally called Ponte Salazar after prime minister, and dictator, António de Oliveira Salazar.

Following the 1975 Carnation Revolution, when the remnants of the dictatorship were overthrown, the bridge was renamed after the date of the revolution, April 25.

It is a suspension bridge, 2,277 metres long, with an additional lane added in the 1990s and a rail track as a lower deck was built in 1999.

It was built by an American company that constructed the San Franscisco Oakland Bay Bridge (not the Golden Gate Bridge) which is, in fact, a complex of bridges completed in 1936.

Ponte Vasco da Gama

The second bridge in Lisbon included is the Vasco da Gama Bridge that also spans the river Tagus (Tejo) and which was completed in 1998, just in time for Expo 98.

Expo 98 celebrated the 500-year anniversary of the sea route from Europe to India, discovered by Vasco da Gama.

But in March 1998 this bridge was the setting for a Guinness World Record!

A table was laid for 15,000 people, spanning 5.050m, along the bridge. Needless to say, the record remains today.

Fairy Liquid sponsored the event with a television advert showing the event. Click here to see the advert (in Portuguese) and here to see the caterers cooking the feijoada served and the setting up of the table. Imagine asking for the salt!

Taking only three years to build, this 17.2kms-long bridge was at one time the longest in Europe however the Crimean Bridge took this accolade with a length of 18.1kms.

Ponte Dom Luís I

Finally, the Dom Luís I bridge in Porto is truly a work of art. To do it justice visitors should walk down the river side or take a boat trip to appreciate the feat of engineering.

Designed by one of the founders of the company that designed and built the Eiffel Tower in Paris, François Gustave Théophile Seyrig, the bridge was inaugurated in 1886 and has two overlapping iron decks.

Standing at 395m long, the arch spanning the river Douro is still considered to be the largest ever forged in iron.

Contrary to popular belief, the bridge known as the Ponte Velha (the Old Bridge) linking Parchal and Portimão, although built by a French company, has nothing from the building of the Eiffel Tower.

Do you have a favourite bridge in the Algarve? See here for local bridges that others have found of interest.

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