For many drivers it is the part of their trip that leaves knuckles white with trepidation. Lisbon’s Ponte 25 de Abril is a behemoth that requires absolute concentration to traverse through the din of tyres passing over chain-mail covered side lanes and the distraction of unbelievable views in all directions.
But now, precisely because of its awe-inspiring enormity and location, Infraestruturas de Portugal (the national road authority) has decided to throw the monument open to the public.
The project is being launched today (Tuesday) and includes a panoramic lift at the base of the Alcântara pillar that helps support the majestic structure.
Said IP’s vice-president José Serrano Gordo: “We want people to see this bridge!”
The decision comes as Ponte 25 de Abril celebrates its 50th anniversary, and the initiative will be shared between IP, Turismo de Lisboa (the capital’s tourism authority) and the concession that runs the bridge.
The objective is not simply to promote tourism, but also to teach people about the bridge’s history. It is “one of the largest suspension bridges in the world”, explains IP, and has Europe’s longest stretch of railway track incorporated within it.
“We want to explain how the bridge was built and, in this way, commemorate the workers who lost their lives constructing it,” added Serrano Gordo.
A future interpretative centre will give visitors a bird’s eye view, as if they are looking down on the bridge from above, he said.