The Iconic Bridges of Porto

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The most popular image of the city is that of its three famous bridges and the characteristic craft, known as 'barcos rabelos' which ply the River Douro, below, with their cargos of wine. The oldest of the bridges is the Dona Maria Pia, opened in 1877, which was designed by the famous French engineer Gustav Eiffel.
Known as the city of bridges, Porto built its first permanent bridge, the Ponte das Barcas (a pontoon bridge), in 1806. Three years later, it was sabotaged. It was replaced by the Ponte D. Maria II, popularised under the name Ponte Pênsil (suspended bridge) and built between 1841–43; only its supporting pylons have remained.
The Ponte D. Maria, a railway bridge, was inaugurated the 4 November of that same year; it was considered a feat of wrought iron engineering and was designed by Gustave Eiffel, notable for his Parisian tower. The later Ponte Dom Luís I replaced the aforementioned Ponte Pênsil. This last bridge was made by Teophile Seyrig, a former partner of Eiffel. Seyrig won a governmental competition that took place in 1879. Building began in 1881 and the bridge was opened to the public on 31 October 1886

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  • 1.
  • 2. Porto, the second largest city of Portugal, is one of the oldest European centres, and registered as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. Porto is famous not only for its long history and for its cultural richness, but for its bridges as well. It is not for nothing that the city is known as “The City of bridges”. The people of Porto are very proud of them, and they have all reasons to be so: one bridge after another, Porto acquired more than simple functional structures, it acquired true landmarks.
  • 3. Porto, the city famous for having 6 bridges, shares this distinction with the neighboring city of Vila Nova de Gaia (or Gaia for short). The bridges start in Porto and end up in Gaia, or in reverse, depending on your
  • 4. Ponte de Maria Pia (1877) and Ponte Infante D.Henrique inaugurated in 2003 The Maria Pia Bridge Was Designed By Gustave Eiffel In 1877 This bridge was actually the last project Eiffel worked on before overseeing the construction of his famous Eiffel Tower in Paris
  • 5. Ponte de Maria Pia, also known under the name of the Eiffel bridge was inaugurated in 1877 (the oldest bridge in Porto), is 354 m long and was a railway bridge. Today, it represents a monument, not only of Porto, but of the entire country. This is the reason why, even though Maria Pia bridge is out of service since 1991, it was not demolished, but by contrary, it stands as a popular touristic attraction and it is very treasured by the locals
  • 6. Ponte de Maria Pia Ponte Infante D.Henrique You can see him refining his signature technique in the Maria Pia Bridge and the nearby Luis I Bridge he began 9 years prior with his student Teophile Seyrig
  • 7. Completed in 2003 The Infante D.Henrique Bridge is the most recent addition to Porto’s bridges, and it is amazing because of its simplicity. The purity of its forms and the beauty of its elegant, thin shape leave travelers jaw-dropped. At its 280 meters arch span, and 371 meters length, the Infante Bridge stands out in every possible way. This is even more so since it is beautifully lightened both on the parapets and under the arch
  • 8. Ponte de S.João, a railway bridge built in 1992 to replace the Eiffel bridge The Maria Pia Bridge was replaced by the futuristic São João, also built by Edgar Cardoso, between 1984 and 1991. It is located close to Maria Pia and spans 250 meters of the Duoro Bridge. Although it is beautifully looking and futuristic, this railway bridge does not represent such a popular attraction as the ones before it. The Controversial: Arrabida Bridge The Most Famous: Dom Luis I Bridge
  • 9. Ponte de S.João, a railway bridge built in 1992 to replace the Eiffel bridge, Ponte de Maria Pia (1877) and Ponte Infante D.Henrique
  • 10. The Luís I (or Luiz I) Bridge (Ponte Luís I or Luiz I) is a metal arch bridge that spans the Douro River between the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. At the time of construction its span of 172 m was the longest of its type in the world. The Government held a competition for the construction of a metallic bridge over the Douro River on a site that was adjacent to an existing bridge and would replace it. Téophile Seyrig had already engineered the D. Maria Pia Bridge project nearby, whilst working as a partner of Eiffel. He now took sole responsibility for the new, major Luís 1st Bridge. The construction was begun in 1881 and the bridge opened on 31 October
  • 11. Ponte Luís I
  • 12. Once it was considered the longest metallic arch bridge in the world. Although those times are long gone, the beauty and the magnificence of the Ponte Luis I bridge remain untouched Total length 385.25 m Weight 3045 tons The arch measures 172 m in length and 44.6 m in height
  • 13. Igreja dos Grilos
  • 14. The Ribeira Square (Praça da Ribeira)
  • 15. Igreja dos Grilos and The Episcopal Palace (Paço Episcopal)
  • 16. The Episcopal Palace (Paço Episcopal)
  • 17. The Episcopal Palace (Paço Episcopal) and Ponte Luis I
  • 18. Originally built to carry road traffic on both decks, at various times Ponte Luis I saw trams on the upper and trolleybuses on the lower. The top deck is now occupied by Line D of the Metro do Porto and a pedestrian walkway.
  • 19. The steel Luís I Bridge
  • 20. Ponte Infante D.Henrique inaugurated in 2003 and Ponte Dom Luís I
  • 21. The steel Luís I Bridge
  • 22. The Serra do Pilar Monastery Monastery of Serra do Pilar, in Gaia, definitely the belvedere with the most spectacular panoramic view over Porto, has opened to the public on 8 December as “House of the Northern Patrimony”.
  • 23. The Serra do Pilar Monastery By security reasons, access will only be allowed to groups of 15 persons at a time. It is necessary to climb 100 steps until the 360.º balcony that surrounds the church, being the last 53 steps done on spiral staircase
  • 24. The Controversial: Arrabida Bridge Considered by some the least attractive of all the bridges in Porto, Ponte Arrabida is nevertheless a tourists’ favorite. Designed by Edgar Cardoso (19132000), the best bridge engineer of Portugal, it was opened in 1963 as the concrete bridge with the longest arch in the world. Even though it lost the title, 270 meters long arch is still impressive enough. Arrabida is a road bridge but offers amazingly beautiful river sights, being positioned near the coast.
  • 25. Ponte da Arrábida was inaugurated in 1963, is 270 m long and is a road bridge, built by Edgar Cardoso (1913-2000), a Portuguese architect.
  • 26. Characteristic craft, known as 'barcos rabelos' which ply the River Douro, below, with their cargos of wine
  • 27. The Episcopal Palace (Paço Episcopal)
  • 28. The Episcopal Palace (Paço Episcopal)
  • 29. ‘Barcos rabelos’
  • 30. Maybe the least known and also, the least popular of them all is Freixo. The double road bridge is located in the eastern side of the city. It was finished in 1995, thus making it the second youngest bridge in Porto. It has 8 spans and measures 705 meters in length and 30 meters in height
  • 31. Igreja Matriz das Almas do Corpo Santo de Massarelos
  • 32. Ponte Móvel de Matosinhos - Leça-Porto The bascule bridge called the Ponte Móvel
  • 33. Text: Internet Pictures: Internet Sanda Foişoreanu Gabriela Cristescu Copyrights of the photos belong to each photographer Presentation: Sanda Foişoreanu Sound: Ana Moura - Fado das Horas Incertas (Fado of the unknown hours); Vaga, No Azul Amplo Solta (Vague, In the Wild Blue Loose)