Bridges aren’t the most interesting thing to read (or write) about for most people but Porto, Portugal‘s 6 famous structures are loaded with dignified drama that’s just as juicy today as it was decades prior. The 6 bridges hanging over the Douro River would have great drunken stories to tell over bottles of port wine but since they can’t, I’ll help by
drinking telling them for you.
1. Porto Is The Only City In Europe With 6 Bridges
This is only partially true as there is one other city in Europe with 6 bridges – and it happens to be right across the Douro River.
2. Vila Nova de Gaia Is The Only City In Europe With 6 Bridges
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 perspective.
3. Wait, I Thought You Said Porto Was The Only City With 6 Bridges
Well, technically speaking, it’s one of two cities (Gaia being the other) that share and disavow claim to this distinction. The problem often arises when maintenance and other work is required for the bridges – and whose taxes are going to pay for it. Suddenly, then, it’s not so important to lay claim to the 6 bridges title completely.
4. 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, France. 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.
5. Eiffel Left The Luis I Bridge Project Because He Didn’t Want To Share
…Eiffel didn’t want to share credit or creative control over the project where his and Seyrig’s opinions in some details of the design differed. (Mostly Seyrig wanted – and did – create a more imposing structure rather than the minimalist idea Eiffel had.) Still, it wasn’t until Eiffel became less interested in sharing the revenue from the bridge did his relationship with Seyrig and the project fall apart. (Here’s how the history of these rivals began and ended.)
6. The Luis I Bridge Was Named And Renamed After A King Who Never Showed Up
The actual named of the Luis I Bridge was the Dom Luis I Bridge, named after then King Luis I. That translates something into the “gift for King Luis I” but when the bridge was inaugurated in his honor in 1886, the king never showed up. So, the locals dropped the “Dom” – a sign of respect given many other nobles in structures built throughout the city – and ended up with Luis I Bridge. Why the king never showed up isn’t certain, but he largely despised being a leader (which he wasn’t very good at) and ignored many of his royal duties until his death 3 years later.
7. At The Time, The Luis I Bridge Was The Longest Metal Arch Bridge In The World
That was back in 1886, now the Luis I Bridge isn’t even in the top 50. That distinction, longest metal arch bridge, goes to the Chaotianmen Bridge in Chongqing, China which was built in 2009. (China, by the way, have 7 of the top 10 longest bridges in that category, all completed after 2003.)
8. The Infante D. Henrique Bridge Is The Longest Concrete Arch Bridge In The World
Completed in 2003 this bridge has the distinction of being the longest, concrete, single arch bridge in the world and is Porto’s newest bridge. (And Gaia’s too.)
9. Porto Had A 7th Bridge Briefly
You can actually see the remains of this suspension bridge that was replaced by the Luis I Bridge sitting on the banks of the Douro River, right by its replacement. The Ponte D. Maria II (or Ponte Pensil) Bridge was in use between 1843 and 1887.
10. Porto Is Known As The City Of Bridges
I’m guessing at this point how Porto earned this nickname is fairly clear – it was evident enough before I spent a few days with Visit Portugal and ATTTurismo. However, you might not see the connection with the nickname Porto’s citizens share – “tripe eaters” – but that’s another story I’ll share with you in the coming weeks.
[storm trooper photo by Kalexanderson]
Wow that’s a lot of info on Porto bridges I never thought I’d read! 😉 I’m trying to remember if it was in Porto or, I can’t even think of the place now, but somewhere in Portugal where I was staying with some friends and we used to go and sit out under the road of the bridge but high above the water. It was a thing all the kids did. Scary looking back. sorry my memory is terrible. I shouldn’t tell a semi anicdote if I can’t even remember which Portugeuse city… although I’m pretty sure it was Porto!
Anyway happy holidays Foxnomad!
That sounds like Porto – either way it’s probably the best guess in Portugal! Have a great holiday as well, thanks!
Aagghhh! You’re breaking my heart with these fantastic photos of Porto – still kicking myself that I didn’t go when I was only an our away.
I think you would really connect with Porto – it’s a city that has an infectious creative atmosphere 🙂
I took a boat tour going under those bridges:)
A wonderful way to experience them (I did the same)!
Ok, as a Porto person I need to clarify one subject – the reason why Luiz I bridge does not have honorific title has nothing to do with the fact the king didn’t show up, it is even insulting to suggest this. At that time no public structures were built with honorific titles! In popular speach everyone calls this bridge Ponte D. Luís, so obviously the Porto inhabitants also don’t have anything against the former king
I was told different by reliable sources in the tourism board there. Sounds like an interesting disagreement there?
The “facts” about Eiffel and Seyrig and their work on the two steel bridges are false too, in many ways. Please do some research.
And the only city in Europe with 6 bridges ? Are you kidding ? What about Hamburg, Amsterdam, Bruges, London, Venice…? I’m sure hundreds of European cities have more than 6 bridges.
Where did you get these “facts” ?
I said 6 – not more than 6.
Porto was an unexpected treasure on our trip loved it – pretty good bridges but so much more Portuguese very welcoming and accommodating to us Ozzies Obrigano
I think you right Anil. 😀. Great work. Hope you can visit us again. It’s getting prettier and prettier
Please do came back! For the fist time. You will be positively surprised
Thanks, hopefully one day soon! I was just in Lisbon and enjoyed it very much too.
Your image of the Ponte do Infante is wrong. Instead, you have a picture of the Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge in Nevada.
The image was used as an example of a metal arch bridge not the Ponte do Infante, I can see where there may be some confusion.