Even though Portugal is a small country, it is actually home to Europe’s longest bridge, the Vasco da Gama Bridge (Ponte Vasco da Gama). Before I lose your attention – because, obviously, bridges aren’t everyone’s cup of tea – let me surprise you with some interesting facts that will make you want to go visit it yourself.
What I love about this bridge is not that it’s so huge, it’s the design. Most of it is very low, close to the water so it almost feels like you’re on a sailing vessel, like the ones Vasco da Gama and his men sailed on to get to India. Its highest section is tall enough for ships to pass underneath, and it features beams that look like ship sails. In addition, the lights are all tilted inwards to protect the natural habitats on the edges of the river from artificial light at night. But enough of what I love about it! Here’s the Vasco da Gama Bridge in numbers:
1998: The year it was completed, in time for the Expo ’98, a World Fair in which 146 countries participated. This year was the 500th anniversary of Vasco da Gama’s discovery of the maritime route to India.
12.3: kilometers (or 7.6 miles) in length directly above water; 17.3 km in full length, and 11.5 km in viaducts – making it the longest bridge in Europe.
2.7: The toll, in Euros, for a class 1 car to cross the bridge – but only if you’re crossing to the Lisbon-side. If you’re going southbound, you can cross for free.
897 million: The cost, in Euros, of building the bridge.
52,000: The average number of cars that need to cross the bridge each day in order to widen the bridge from 6 lanes to 8, which is estimated to happen in the next 6 years.
I hope all my readers find their way to Parque das Nações and admire the Vasco da Gama Bridge from the riverbank or from the cable cars which run alongside it. If you get the chance to drive on it, I have another number for you. 120: the speed limit, in kilometers, on the bridge in favorable weather conditions.