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Tagus river Lisbon bridge : 50 years of history

The Lisbon bridge celebrates 50 years

One of the most iconic symbols of Lisbon, the 25th April bridge, is an impressive construction that celebrates half a century in 2016.

Lets recap a bit of history about this bridge..

tagus river bridge lisbon

2016: the Tagus river bridge remains a symbol of the Portuguese capital

Since 1876 the ideia of a bridge linking both banks of the tagus river in Lisbon was in place, however only in the 1950`s it was decided to begin its construction.

At the time the bridge cost was the equivalent to 11 million euros, with some of the money being agreed with USA Banks.

For engineers this bridge was a major challenge since back then there were few suspended bridges in the world of this size and therefore not many expertise available. The design of the bridge, contrary to popular belief, was not influenced by the San Francisco Golden Gate but from the Bay bridge in the same city in Califórnia.

lisbon bridge portugal construction

Construction works in the 1960´s

Despite more than 3000 workers being involved on its construction,only 60 casualties were confirmed which is quite a low number considering the lack of modern safety procedures in the 1960`s.

stress test bridge

Stress test with hundreds of trucks loaded with sand before the bridge opening to test its resistance

The main reason for this bridge existence was to develop the tagus river south bank, an area highly undeveloped compared to Lisbon in the opposite side of the river.

ceremony opening lisbon bridge

August 7, 1966 newspaper with a picture of the bridge opening ceremony

In terms of politics this construction was meant to show the dictatorial regime strength and power since it was already suffering from a strong popular opposition. This popular disbelief was mainly due to the underdevelopment of the country compared to western Europe standards as well as the lack of freedom civil rights.

ponte do rio tejo

1974: the tagus river bridge changed its name to 25th April Bridge

Some curious facts about the Lisbon bridge

–  ten hours after its opening more that 50.000 cars and 200.000 people crossed the bridge

– United States Steel Export was the chosen Company to build the bridge, 25 years after sending the first plans to the  Portuguese government

-more than 100 million watched the bridge opening ceremony on the Tv

-every day more that 170.000 cars cross the bridge both ways

-every pilar of the bridge can move one meter on both directions to allow some movement due to strong winds and tides

-its original name was “Salazar bridge”, however its name was changed to 25th April in 1974

What about a Lisbon tour to take a closer look at the bridge? check here my plan

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Day trips from Lisbon to Sintra, Cascais, Fatima and more.