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 leading south out of the city
This impressive bridge closely resembles the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, with its name commemorating the Portuguese Carnation Revolution of 25 April 1974.
The suspension bridge connects Lisbon, on the north bank, with the commuter districts of Almada 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 view when crossing the Ponte 25 bridge heading into Lisbon
The bridge carries the A2 expressway and the Fertagus railway to Setubal, but there is sadly no way of crossing the bridge on foot or by bicycle.
To cross the bridge when travelling into Lisbon (northwards), a toll must be paid. There is no toll when leaving Lisbon (heading south), with this system designed to reduce traffic in the city.
Insight: This method of paying when entering the city and being free on leaving also applies to the Ponte Vasco da Gama, the other bridge of Lisbon.
The toll fee is €1.90 for a car (€4.15 for a campervan or van), which can be paid by cash or with a debit card. Cash is always the best method, as foreign bank cards can sometimes be problematic (American Express is not widely accepted).
Full details of the tolls can be found on the Luso Ponte website: www.lusoponte.pt
There are 16 toll lanes leading to the Ponte 25 de Abril, and you might find the various signs and instructions confusing. The cash and debit card toll booths are on the left lanes and are operated by staff.
The toll booths on the lead-up to the Ponte 25 de Abril
The payment can also be made using 'Via Verde', which is used to pay automatically for the toll expressways in Portugal. The Via Verde transponder is attached to your windscreen and linked to your bank account, automatically paying the tolls when passing through one of the Via Verde toll gates. If you have a rental car, it may have come with the Via Verde transponder already installed. It is highly recommended to have the Via Verde if you are doing any long-distance driving in Portugal.
Further information can be found on the Via Verde website: https://viaverde.pt/
The Ponte 25 de Abril has a cheaper toll (€1.90) 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 out of Lisbon. Rush hours are especially bad, so it is best if you can avoid crossing the bridge at this time.
The Cristo Rei statue stands high above the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge.
Though you can't cross the bridge on foot, you can get a view from the road level at the Pilar 7 Bridge Experience. This museum details the construction of the bridge, as well as showing the inner workings of a suspension bridge. The museum is housed within Pillar 7 (there are 14 pillars in total), which is the key anchor point on the northern side of the bridge.
The highlight of this experience is a ride in the lift to the road level and a glass floor that leads out 80m above the ground. Entry to Pilar 7 costs €5.50, with the entrance to the museum being situated on the Avenida da Índia, to the rear of the LxFactory complex.
The view from the top of the Pilar 7 experience
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 Francisco.
The most obvious similarities are in the structural design and paint scheme, but there are more connections than that. Both bridges are located in regions of high possible seismic activity, and their designs are almost identical.
To ensure solid foundations for the Lisbon suspension bridge, the south tower extends for 79m below the water level - deep into the solid bedrock. The bridge was designed to withstand an earthquake four times as strong as the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, considered to be one of the most devastating quakes in history.
The Ponte 25 de Abril was constructed by the American Bridge Company, a subsidiary of the United States Steel Corporation and the company that built the Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco. Both bridges are painted in an 'International Orange' colour, which was chosen because it provides excellent visibility even in foggy conditions.
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 that built the bridge was led by The United Steel Export Company, which employed approximately 3000 workers on the site.
The Ponte 25 de Abril bridge was completed in 45 months and inaugurated on August 6, 1966 - this was 5 months earlier than originally estimated.
The total project cost the Portuguese government $ 32 million, and it took 25 years of toll collections to cover the construction costs. After the bridge had been paid for, the toll fees were continued to help pay for the Ponte Vasco da Gama.
The bridge was originally named the Salazar Bridge (Ponte Salazar), but after the bloodless revolution in 1974, the name was changed to commemorate this historic date. Symbolically, the brass name of the bridge was also replaced.
With the increase of commuters from the housing region of Almada, the bridge underwent an extensive expansion in 1995, increasing the number of lanes from 4 to 6. A train line was added below the road level in 1999, which is the only rail route south from Lisbon. In 2021, the bridge carried approximately 150,000 vehicles per day, as well as 157 trains.
The bridge has a main span stretching to 1,012.88 meters (3,323 ft), making it the 32nd largest suspension bridge in the world. The total length of the deck is 2,277 meters (7,470 ft).
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