A bridge can be much more than a way to cross a river. It can be a monument, a symbol or even a work of art. There are thousands of bridges in Portugal, some of which are almost 2000 years old, built in Roman times and which are still standing today, to the wonder of those who are privileged to visit.
Some of these bridges are now considered as medieval monuments. Others keep enchanting stories and legends that further enrich their importance. Legends of moors and enchanted princesses, stories of invasions and national resistance or unusual episodes known to only the local residents.
Whether they are Roman, medieval or more modern, a bridge can be just another reason to visit a certain place to learn a little more about the history of the region. Discover some of the most beautiful bridges in Portugal.
1. Trajan’s Bridge
We have more than 2 thousand years of effective life in the most beautiful city of Chaves, in the North of Portugal. we falamed da Trajan’s Roman Bridge, two of the best preserved monuments of this genre in the whole world. A ponte is so well preserved that, at this time, there are still cars passing over it.
Not total, it has 140 meters of compression and 16 arches, but only 12 of them are visible since the other 4 are buried or hidden among the buildings that are around them.
2. São Goncalo Bridge
Its construction dates from the 18th century and saw the replacement of another bridge, of medieval origin (whose construction was associated with the miracles of São Gonçalo, or padroeiro of the city of Amarante). From the old bridge, which fell in 1763 due to a flood on the Tâmega river, there remains a small Gothic sculpture placed in the same church next to it.
The bridge of São Gonçalo revealed to be of extreme importance not only for Amarante but also for the history of Portugal, especially during the French invasions and it was here that the Portuguese soldiers resisted the Napoleonic troops for 14 days.
3. Ponte da Misarela
This beautiful bridge is located on the Rabagão river, in the heart of Gerês, near the Barragem da Venda Nova. More properly, it is located in the place of Misarela, parish of Ferrão, municipality of Montalegre, and in the parish of Ruivães, municipality of Vieira do Minho, once the Rabagão river serves as a natural border between these two municipalities.
The structure dates from medieval times, or even less has a medieval architectural tradition, being spectacularly framed in a landscape of dense vegetation. Ponte is associated with an already famous legend, where the protagonist is Diabo, and it is for this reason that many times it is nicknamed Ponte do Diabo.
4. Ponte da Cava da Velha
The Ponte da Cava da Velha, also known as Ponte Nova de Castro Laboreiro, is one of the best preserved medieval bridges in the entire Peneda Gerês National Park. It will have been built around the I century (therefore, with Roman origins) but rebuilt later, during the Middle Ages, when it gained its current appearance.
É, therefore, a daquelas pontes difíceis to classify: Roman or medieval? It is certain that, due to its accentuated reconstruction during the Middle Ages, it only makes sense to classify it as medieval.
5. Izeda Bridge
This bridge, made up of five long arches (4 medium and medium sized, quite large), is commonly referred to as a Roman sendo. But this is a magnificent example of Pontistic architecture, with its multiple arches and cavalete profile, being an unequivocally low-medieval masonry construction.
In 1860, the river destroyed a part of it, thanks to a cheia. The renovation works barely began in 1938. If you wanted to visit the medieval bridge, also known as Ponte de Santulhão, just go to the parish of Izeda, in the municipality of Bragança, and make a trip to Santulhão, which belongs to Vimioso.
6. Ponte de Quintao
The medieval bridge of Quintão links the parishes of Brufe and Carvalheira and crosses the Homem river. It would have been built to allow passage, not only for people, but also for carriages and horses. Despite the fact that many of them have Roman bridges, they will have been built in Idade Média.
7. Put on April 25
When this bridge, which names the Golden Gate Bridge of São Francisco, was built in 1966, it was the third largest of its kind, with 2,277 meters of compression and 6 rails on the upper platform, which linked Lisbon to the South side.
Today, it is the 17th largest suspended bridge in the world, and has a lower platform with 2 railway lines in both directions. It was built by the American Bridge Company and 11 local companies. This year it was imported into the United States and the project, which involved close to 3000 workers, ended up being concluded in less than 4 years.
8. Vasco da Gama Bridge
Two months before the opening of Expo 98, on March 29, 1998, the largest bridge in Europe was inaugurated and what was, at height, one of the largest public works carried out in Portugal, the Vasco da Gama Bridge. It is located to the east of Lisbon and Sacavém ao Montijo league. The work began in July 1995, after a first planning phase that lasted about 3 years.
Not totally, Ponte Vasco da Gama has a comprehension of 17.2 km, being that 12.3 of these kilometers are suspended over Tejo. The construction deserves the award from the Ibero-American Biennial of Architecture and Engineering, in 2000.
9. Ucanha Bridge
This fortified bridge was the monumental entrance to the Couto do Mosteiro de Salzedas, since the tower served as portage collection, defense and product storage. The military function of the bridge was secondary, there being no other things.
The existence of this structure has never been documented in the 12th century, the height at which D. Afonso Henriques established, in 1163, the home of Egas Moniz, Teresa Afonso, or Algeriz county, to which he added to the territory of ucanha. I think that the bridge was built by the Romans, not following a road that passed by dali.
10. Luis I Bridge
The true name of this bridge is Luiz I, and not D. Luís I, as it is popularly known. Names aside, this bridge is an ex-libris of the city of Porto and is included in the area classified as World Heritage by UNESCO since 1996.
The construction of the bridge was awarded on November 21, 1881 to the company Societé Willebreck, from Brussels, whose administrator was Théophile Seyrig, disciple of Gustave Eiffel and author of the project of the new bridge.
11. Bridge of Ponte de Lima
In reality, it cannot be considered that it is just a bridge. It is about the union of 2 bridges, built at different times. One of two pieces is of Roman origin and will have been built in the 1st century. Only 5 arches remain, located in the dry bed of the river.
Another piece, of medieval origin, was added later. The exact date of its construction is unknown, but it is known that it would initially be made of wood. Later, in 1504, it was reinforced and knitted, obtaining the appearance that it still has today.
12. Ponte Velha de Pinelo
It crosses the Maçãs River and is part of the medieval road that linked Izeda to Vimioso, in Trás-os-Montes. Link to the villages of Argozelo and Pinelo and, following the old road, join Bragança, Outeiro and Vimioso.
It was built in alvenaria de xisto, on the dominant rock of the region. Despite having been rebuilt several times over two centuries, it maintains its medieval design and is one of the two most beautiful examples of this type of bridge in Portugal.