Vasco da Gama Bridge
It’s probably where the eye wanders. A colossal bridge over the Tagus River estuary, connecting Lisbon to Alcochete and Montijo. Today, it seems like it has always been there, but its history is not that old. Desired and planned for a long time, it was with the 1998 World Expo (Expo 98) happening in Lisbon that the Vasco da Gama Bridge finally took shape. The name is a tribute to Vasco da Gama, celebrated in 1998 for the 500th anniversary of his arrival in India.
“A dream come true,” was heard on one side. “An extraordinary work,” was pointed out on the other. If it is true that the Vasco da Gama Bridge was designed as an alternative to the 25 de Abril Bridge, as a way to help ease traffic flow, it is impossible to talk about this advance without also looking at the entire evolution of the area. New connections were created, the city expanded, and on the other side of the river, Alcochete and Montijo also grew. Suddenly, a path that could take over an hour was done in 20 minutes on a bridge like no other.
With a total length of 17.2 kilometers, 12 of which are over the river, the Vasco da Gama Bridge, officially inaugurated on March 29, 1998, became the largest bridge in Europe, only surpassed in 2018 by the Crimean Bridge with 18.1 kilometers.
At the inauguration, politicians and guests were the first to cross the bridge, but a week earlier, the party was made with the people. The Guinness World Record for the largest table in the world was set, with nothing less than five kilometers. About 15,000 people sat down, for whom chef Michel da Costa (1970-2022) prepared a feijoada, then nicknamed the “mega feijoada” (which only did not enter the Guinness as the largest feijoada in the world because it was not made all at once, but eight tons of this dish were served). Fun fact: the dishwashing detergent brand that sponsored the event managed to wash 14,673 plates with just one liter, also setting a record. The day of the party was such that it is now part of the collective memory.
When looking at the bridge, you would never imagine that it was made to withstand winds of 250 km/h and to resist an earthquake 4.5 times stronger than the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, which had a magnitude of 8.7 to 9 on the Richter scale and left the city terribly devastated.
Total length (km)
Extension over the waters of the river (km)
Opening Vasco da Gama Bridge
A colossus built to last at least 120 years and worth crossing, even if it is for a short escape. There is a lot to discover on the other side, especially in the Tagus Estuary – did you know that Portugal is a highly sought-after destination for birdwatching and that in the Tagus Estuary alone, it is possible to observe more than a hundred species in a single day?
For lovers of good cuisine, Alcochete, for example, has great restaurants to eat river fish and meats from Lezíria. And for those who cannot do without a good dose of shopping, the best brands at tempting prices are at the Freeport Lisbon Fashion Outlet.