Hardly any other building has captivated us as much as the Ponte 25 de Abril. We walked across the bridge on our first visit to the city, but this time we were drawn to a breathtaking viewing platform, the Experiência Pilar 7.
Ponte 25 de Abril
The 25th of April Bridge is a 2278 metre long suspension bridge over the Tagus River. It is said to be the third longest suspension bridge with combined road and rail traffic in the world and connects the district of Alcântara with the city of Almada.
In 1913, the first thoughts arose about building a bridge over the Tagus. It took some time until everyone was convinced of the idea enough to start planning it in more detail and even longer to build it. In 1934, concrete plans were finally presented, but they led to the construction of a bridge in the northeast near Vila Franca de Xira.
It was not until 1958 that the decision was made to build a bridge to Cristo Rei. The American company US Steel won the public tender and construction began in 1962. The steel was imported from the United States. The similarity to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is no coincidence. The steel and the contractors are identical.
In 1966, the bridge was finally completed and inaugurated at a state ceremony. It was given the name Salazar Bridge. Only after the Carnation Revolution on 25 April 1974 was it renamed Ponte 25 de Abril.
It was not until 1996 and 1999 that the Ponte was extended to include a railway deck for passenger trains. Pedestrians are not actually allowed to cross the bridge. Since 1991, however, this has been possible once a year during the Lisbon Half Marathon. We ran it and used this unique experience to take numerous photos.
Since 2017, visitors have had the opportunity to experience the Experiência Pilar 7 by visiting the viewing platform.
Experiência Pilar 7
The entrance to Experiência Pilar 7 is below the bridge. First you get to the ticket office and from there you follow large metal plates in the ground outside. I found them quite hard to read, they also always show information about the bridge construction.
Below the bridge is a climbing rock where new routes were being set when we visited. Anyone who wants to can be shown how to climb here. An information board informs about the offers for which a fee is charged.
In an adjacent building, we went through a security gate into an area with a small interactive exhibition. First we were taken to a huge high room. The history of the building was projected onto the walls. Well done, but as the room was quite high, our necks quickly hurt.
A staff member led us further to a glass lift that took us to a viewing platform. This platform is directly on the level of the car road where the traffic roars. It was loud – so loud that it was impossible to have a conversation.
You stand on the platform at a height of 65 metres and can also look down through gratings or a scratched glass floor. The view over the Tagus is simply beautiful. When we visited, the morning haze was still over the river.
For us, up there it was something like a journey back to our run across the bridge. Here, too, the gratings gave us a view down. Trains passed underneath us, but the noise was made by the runners, not the cars. The view had already thrilled me then and this time I could hardly get enough of it.
We were alone on the rather small viewing platform and could stay as long as we wanted. However, I can imagine that during the season there may be waiting times and perhaps shortened visiting hours so that all visitors can experience the Experiência Pilar 7.
Av. da Índia 52,
1300-299 Lisboa, Portugal
May to September: 10 -20 h
October until April: 10 – 18 h
Discounts are offered. Free entry with the LisboaCard.