With its full length of 17 kilometres, this majestic construction is the longest bridge in the whole Europe. And it’s definitely worth closer look.
Why to go: Most of the visitors of Lisbon often come to the other bridge in Lisbon, the red Ponte de 25 Abril resembling the Golden Gate in San Francisco, but not to this one.
And it is a shame, since it is a very unique piece of architecture, which from closer distance offers a breathtaking look not only at its amazing length, but very clean and majestic construction design.
The bridge is named after the famous portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, who as the first European discovered the sea route to India in 1497. Ponte Vasco da Gama was built in 1998 and the total lenght of the bridge (including its viaducts) is amazing 17.2 kilometres, which makes it the longest bridge in the Europe.
A boring note: Sometimes, you can find the information that it is „only“ 12.3 kilometres long, which probably the lenght without the viaducts – anyway, even considering that number, it stays the longest European bridge.
And an interesting thing is, that it didn’t cost portuguese tax payers any money, thanks to being built and owned by a consorcium of private businesses (more details about the concept here).
How to get on top: Officialy, you can’t – only cars are allowed. But! There is actually a legal and safe way to do it. If you would like to experience the bridge by yourself, just check the calendar of Lisbon halfmarathons and take part in the race – twice a year, its participants can run across the bridge and get where most of the tourists (and even Lisboners) never set their foot :)
How to get there: Since the Vasco da Gama bridge lies next to the northern end of modern city district Park das Nacoes, you can come closer by taking a walk from the Oriente metro station along the nice promenade near the river Tejo.
The route is popular among city runners and offers a lot of benches and even some piers with a nice view over the river – just don’t stop to sit too early, with every step closer the bridge becomes more and more monumental and the nicest view is actually from the places just very close to it. A very nice place for chilling is almost under the bridge, there you can find a wooden path where you can just lay and enjoy your favourite book.
Just under the pillars of the bride, there is a concrete skatepark with portuguese teenagers enjoying their free time, and if you continue the path, the area around changes – all the modern buildings become quite distant and you can see the Lisbon suburbs far along the river.
After a while, you reach vast empty parking space, remainder of the EXPO 98, with a small resting place full of benches, where elderly portuguese people enjoy the afternoon sun and take their dogs for a walk.
An interesting counterweight to the touristy parts of the city, yet be aware that going back from this place to the nearest metro station (Oriente) will take you about 20 minutes – however, I didn’t regret going so far at all, taking my way back through the area of new residence houses and enjoying exploring the part of the city with actually very nice housing development around.