The best independent guide to Lisbon
The best independent guide to Lisbon
The Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge is one of the most iconic landmarks in Lisbon. The bridge spans the Tejo Estuary at its narrowest point and is the only bridge south out of the city.
This massive bridge closely resembles that of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the date name remembers the Portuguese Carnation Revolution of 25 April 1974.
The suspension bridge connects Lisbon, on the north bank, with the commuter districts of Alameda on the south bank. The bridge is a distinctive landmark of Lisbon and crossing the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge makes for a fantastic entrance to Lisbon.
The iconic Ponte 25 de Abril bridge, looking north into Lisbon
The bridge carries the A2 expressway and the Fertagus railway to Setubal, and there is no means to cross the bridge on foot.
There is a toll to cross the bridge, which is collected when travelling north (into Lisbon). When you are leaving Lisbon (heading south), there is no toll, and this is designed to reduce traffic in Lisbon.
Insight: This approach of paying when entering the city and free to leave also applies to the Ponte Vasco da Gama the other bridge of Lisbon.
The toll fee is €1.85 for a car (€4.05 for a campervan or van) and can be paid by cash or debit card. Cash is always the best method as foreign bank cards sometimes can be problematic (American Express is not widely accepted).
There are 16 toll lanes, and on the approach to the toll station, you will be bamboozled by various signs and instructions. The cash and debit card toll booths are on the left lanes and are operated by staff.
Insight: The Ponte 25 de Abril has the cheaper toll rate (€1.85) than the longer Ponte Vasco da Gama, which costs €2.85 for a car.
The Ponte 25 de Abril is a bottleneck for traffic, as it is the only north-south route into Lisbon. Rush hours are especially bad, and is best if you can avoid crossing the bridge at this time.
Insight: The bridge also gets very busy on Saturday and Sunday evenings during the summer as everyone returns to the city after spending time on the beaches of the Costa da Caparica coastline.
The Cristo Rei statue stands high above the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge
There is no method to cross the bridge on foot, but a view from the road level can be seen at Pilar 7. This museum details the construction of the bridge along with showing the inner workings of a suspension bridge. The museum is housed within Pillar 7 (there are 14 pillars in total), the key anchor point on the northern side of the bridge.
The highlight of the experience is the ride in a lift to the road level and a glass floor that leads out 80m above the ground. The entrance to Pilar 7 costs €6, and the entrance is on the Avenida da Índia, to the rear of LxFactory.
The bridge towers over the Alcantara district of Lisbon
Lisbon's Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge closely resembles the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francesco. The most obvious comparison is due to the paint scheme, but there are more connections than that.
The consortium that constructed the Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco also constructed the Ponte 25 de Abril. Along with similar appearances, both bridges are located in regions of high possible seismic activity, and their designs are almost identical. To ensure solid foundations of the Lisbon suspension bridge, the south tower extends for 79m below the water level deep into the solid bedrock.
The road level is 70m above the River Tejo allowing cruise and container ships to pass easily beneath and enter the docks of Lisbon. The total length of the Ponte 25 de Abril is 2.3km. The consortium which built the bridge was headed by The United Steel Export Company who employed approximately 3000 workers on the site.
The Ponte 25 de Abril bridge was completed in 45 months and inaugurated on the 6th August 1966, this was 5 months earlier than originally estimated.
The total project cost the Portuguese government $32million and it took 25 years of toll collections to cover the construction costs. After the bridge had been paid for, the tolls were continued to be collected to help pay for the Ponte Vasco da Gama.
The bridge was originally named Salazar Bridge (Ponte Salazar), but after the bloodless revolution in 1974 the name was changed to the date of the revolution, and symbolically the brass name of the bridge was replaced.
With the increase of commuters from the housing region of Alameda the bridge went under extensive expansion in 1995, increasing the number of lanes from 4 to 6. A train line was added below the road level in 1999 and is the only rail route south out of Lisbon.
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