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Ponte Vasco da Gama: The 2nd Longest Bridge in Europe

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The Vasco da Gama Bridge (or Ponte Vasco da Gama) was named after the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, who discovered the sea route from Europe to India. It was opened in 1998 after three years of construction to relieve congestion on Lisbon’s 25th of April Bridge.

It’s the longest bridge in the EU and the 2nd longest bridge in Europe! This leviathan crosses an insane 17 km (11 miles) over the River Tagus in Portugal’s capital Lisbon, and it’s a sight to behold.

What is Vasco da Gama Bridge?

Sunset, Clouded Sky, and the Ponte Vasco da Gama Bridge
Photo: F Mira

The Ponte Vasco da Gama was the longest European bridge when it opened. The bridge is located in Lisbon, Portugal, and has 2,277 meters (7,467 ft). It crosses the Tagus River between the urban areas of Belém on the south bank and Parque das Nações on the north bank. The bridge is part of the A2 motorway link between Lisbon and the Algarve.

Although no longer the largest in Europe with the erection of the Crimean Bridge, it did hold an impressive title at the time of its erection, and it is still highly regarded as one of the longest bridges in the world.

FUN FACT: The longest continuous bridge over water is the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in southern Louisiana.

The Structure of Ponte Vasco da Gama

Twilight Reflexes Over a Long Bridge
Photo: F Mira

The Ponte Vasco da Gama carries a six-lane elevated highway, a central viaduct, and an expo viaduct. Also, its two parallel bridges, the south viaduct and the north viaduct. One of the best ways to appreciate this magnificent set of structures is via boat tours.

How to Get to Ponte Vasco da Gama

Misty Vasco da Gama Bridge
Photo: F Mira

If you’re planning to visit the bridge, you need the best way to get there is by car or by bus. If you are coming from the city center, take the Alcântara-Terra train and get off at the Belém stop. From there, it is a short walk to the bridge.

If you are coming from the airport, take the red line metro to São Sebastião and transfer to the green line towards Cais do Sodré. Get off at Belém and follow the signs to the bridge.

For fun and safe travel, consider travel insurance such as SafetyWing and travel accessories as you explore the Ponte Vasco da Gama Bridge.

See Related: The Magdeburg Water Bridge

What to See at Ponte Vasco da Gama

Orange Sunrise and a Bridge
Photo: F Mira

The bridge carries six road lanes and has a life expectancy of 120 years. It took $1.1 billion to complete the project, and it is an architectural marvel. First, they took careful measures to make the bridge environmentally friendly.

In one case, they moved one side of the viaducts slightly inland to preserve marshes, and they were careful to tilt the bridge’s lamps inward to avoid casting light on the river below.

Even more notably, the length of the bridge required engineers to factor in the earth’s curvature, which broke new ground for architectural plans as they engineered unique pillars to support several sections of the bridge.

The cable stays are built to withstand immense wind speed, and the architectural integrity of the enormous structure is measured to withstand an earthquake 4.5 times stronger than the strongest earthquake in Lisbon’s history!

Even on a cloudy day, the bridge can be seen nearly anywhere in the city. As you get nearer the bridge, you can walk out on various wooden platforms extending over the water, and the bridge itself seems to disappear into the horizon. The panoramic view of the river and Lisbon are breathtaking from the bridge, but keep your eyes on the road.

See Related: Beautiful Cities in the World

Attractions Near Ponte Vasco da Gama

Europe’s 2nd longest bridge, Vasco da Gama Bridge, is a magnificent feat of engineering and attracts tourists worldwide, but there’s more to this neck of the woods than just Ponte Vasco da Gama!

Lisbon is a lovely town, and close to the bridge, you’ll find several top tourist attractions that are worth visiting, including the following:

Tower of Belem

White Historic Tower of Belem

The tower of Belem is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Lisbon; and is one of the most beautiful examples of Portuguese architecture.

The monument is a tribute to the Age of Discovery and the explorers who set out from Lisbon to discover new lands in Asia and the Americas. It is a magnificent sight to see on a Lisbon Half Day Tour.

It is also located near the Jeronimos Monastery (another UNESCO World Heritage Site we’ll talk about in a minute), and the Palacio do Governador, a luxurious hotel with a great place to stay.

See Related: Best Places to Go For Your Birthday

Jeronimos Monastery

Grand Exterior of Jeronimos Monastery

The Jeronimos Monastery is a beautiful and majestic building that is located in the city of Lisbon, Portugal. The monastery was built in the 16th Century and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The monastery is famous for its imposing Manueline architecture, combining Gothic and Renaissance architectural elements. Get your ticket immediately and add the monastery to your travel itinerary in Lisbon. If you’re looking for somewhere to spend the night in Lisbon, check out these rentals.

Monument to the Discoveries

Monument Structure of Padrão dos Descobrimentos by the Ocean

The Monument to the Discoveries (or Monumento aos Descobrimentos) is a monument located in Lisbon, Portugal. It was erected in honor of the Portuguese Age of Discovery. The memorial is located on the north bank of the Tagus River, near the entrance to the Port of Lisbon.

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  1. BH says:

    It is still the longest bridge in Europe… “The Øresund Bridge is an approximately 16 km long road and rail link between Sweden and Denmark. It consists of three sections: a bridge, an artificial island and a tunnel.”
    So the Øresund _Bridge_ itself is much shorter.