Douro… Mondego…Tejo…Sado… Guadiana. If you “crossed the waters” before, you know that these are the most famous Portuguese Rivers. Although, if you dive a little deeper, you’ll see that Portugal has more than 300 rivers and streams across the country. With so many rivers to cross, bridges can really make a difference linking two different shores, cultures, and traditions.
If you don’t want to feel like a (Portuguese) fish out of the water, here are 7 bridges in Portugal that you should cross.
Luiz I Bridge – Porto’s Wine Highway
Also called Ponte D. Luís I, this is one of Porto’s landmarks featured in (almost) every photo of the city. D. Luiz I Bridge was inaugurated in 1886 and is 430 yards long and 8 yards wide. Separating the cities of Porto and Gaia – and known as an authentic Port Wine highway for boats - the bridge is usually a mandatory stop in all the Douro River cruises.
The bridge has 2 overlapping iron decks and its arch is still considered to be the world's biggest in forged iron. The upper deck serves the Metro and pedestrians, and the lower one is designed for cars and pedestrians to cross. It was designed by Gustave Eiffel before he built his Paris tower.
Vasco da Gama Bridge - The Longest Bridge in Europe
With its construction beginning in February 1995, Vasco da Gama Bridge was finished just in time for the Expo 98, the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of the sea route from Europe to India, led by Vasco da Gama himself.
The Vasco da Gama Bridge is a cable-stayed bridge overlooking the Tejo River and is the longest bridge in Europe with a total length of 10.7 miles. The bridge connects the Montijo and Alcochete areas to Lisbon (Parque das Nações) and Sacavém. Vasco da Gama Bridge was built to resist an earthquake four times more powerful than the one which devastated Lisbon in 1755.
Isidro dos Reis Bridge – “The Battle Bridge”
The Isidro dos Reis Bridge, also known as Chamusca Bridge, was built in 1908-1909, to replace a ferry route. João Joaquim Isidro dos Reis – whose name was given to the bridge - fulfilled the desire of the locals – called “chamusquences” – by turning the construction of the Chamusca Bridge in one of the major battles of his life. The initial plan included the construction of rail trails to serve the region, an idea that was later abandoned in favor of a road.
The metal bridge is on in the EN243. The bridge connects two Tejo River banks – and the towns of Chamusca and Golegã - and has a total length of 826 yards.
Misarela Bridge – Meeting with the Devil
Right on the Rabagão River, near Vieira do Minho, lies one of the most unique bridges in Portugal – in terms of its story and history. The Misarela Bridge was first built in the Middle Ages and rebuilt in the early 19th century. It is located at the bottom of a steep ravine, at the base of cliffs and stands some distance above the river, being supported by a single arc of about 14 yards in span.
The strange geometry of the bridge and the surrounding landscape are the motto for several legends regarding the meeting of the locals with Belzebu … the Devil himself. It is also said that many years ago there was a curse among pregnant women. To solve the infertility problems women would have to go to the middle of the bridge, at midnight, make a prayer and later call the son either Gervás – if it was a boy – or Senhorinha – if girl.
Várzea Grande Bridge - Smallest International Bridge In the World
The Smallest International Bridge in the World lies along an Alentejo border where the Portuguese and Spanish cultures, traditions and customs blend together.
From Várzea Grande it is possible to cross the bridge into El Marco, in the Spanish town of La Codosera, where Portuguese is taught in school. The pedestrian wooden bridge 6 feet wide, and was built about nine years ago with EU funds.
Carpinteira Bridge – Illusion in the Mountains
Once considered one of the most interesting design locations in the world, by Travel + Leisure magazine, Carpinteira Bridge opened in 2009. This new and impressive pedestrian bridge came from an old desire of the population who wanted to shorten the cross path between Penedos Altos and the city center of Covilhã.
With 240 yards long, the bridge geometry interferes with visual guidance and the perception of the Serra da Estrela and the extent of Cova da Beira. It is quite a modern looker!
Old Bridge of Tavira – Is it Roman?
Although often called “Roman Bridge of Tavira,” there’s not a common understanding about its archaeological foundation or origin. The bridge had already several rebuilds due to the river flooding. But it is an Old Bridge, and it is lovely, and it is in Tavira, over the river Gilão. In fact, this Algarve monument is located in the heart of Tavira with a span of 7 arches that run 90 plus yards.