Vasco da Gama Bridge is the longest bridge in Europe. Portugal

Vasco da Gama Bridge – a masterpiece of world architecture of the late 20th century

Vasco da Gama Bridge

The Vasco da Gama Bridge in Lisbon is one of the most impressive sights in the Portuguese capital and combines functionality with beauty and elegance. It has a six-lane highway with a capacity of up to 52,000 trucks and cars per day. Two more lanes are provided for the periods when the traffic load increases several times. The 17.2 kilometer long and 30 meter wide giant reinforced concrete structure is made up of a cable-stayed bridge, a viaduct and access roads. It was erected to reduce traffic on Lisbon’s first bridge, known as the April 25 Bridge.


where is wasko da gama bridge

The Vasco da Gama Bridge over the Tagus River in Lisbon connects the new Expo 98 district in the northeast part of the city with the south bank near the towns of Montijo and Alcuesti. The grandiose structure towers over the widest part of the Tagus downstream, resembling a sea bay. The opening, on March 29, 1998, was timed to coincide with the start of the Lisbon World Expo 98. It was organized in the Portuguese capital to commemorate the five hundredth anniversary of the discovery of the sea route from Europe to India by the great Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama, whose name the bridge and tower in the new modern area of Expo 98 in Lisbon were named after.

Beneath the giant spans on the north side is a park with a picturesque green area, pedestrian and bicycle paths, recreation areas, areas for sports and active games. The water part of the estuary under the viaduct is an extensive protected area with rich aquatic fauna and flora. The wetlands are visible from above, where several tens of thousands of species of migrating birds such as ducks, geese, and flamingos overwinter.

Designing the bridge

construction of wasko da gama

The need to build a new traffic artery across the Tijo River in Lisbon was felt in the early 90s, when traffic jams turned into a traffic collapse, paralyzing city life for many hours. In 1994, in order to relieve the bridge on April 25, a tender for the construction of a new bridge was opened. It was won by the international consortium Lusoponte. Preparatory work, including design, began in February 1995 and lasted about a year and a half. Approximately in the same period the construction was carried out.

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The design considered a set of factors that could affect the performance, safety and longevity of the structure. These are the peculiarities of the bottom topography and the landscapes of the northern and southern banks of the Tagus. Climatic conditions in Portugal, including seismic activity. And also to the spherical shape of the planet, environmental and aesthetic aspects. The author of the project was a French engineer Michel Virloo. Who managed to take into account all the nuances of the construction of a grand building and fit it perfectly into the landscape, without disturbing the ecological balance of the environment.


bridge construction

The project, which was divided into four parts, was carried out by different construction companies under the supervision of the Lusoponte Consortium. The large-scale construction, which involved more than 3,300 workers, was completed after 18 months. A grand opening ceremony was held followed by festivities and a large-scale banquet.


The construction consists of sections:

  • the northern access roads;
  • Northern viaduct of 488 m length;
  • the viaduct Expo 672 m long including 12 sections;
  • the main bridge with side sections of a total length of 829 m;
  • central viaduct 6,531 m long, consisting of 80 sections of 78 m each;
  • The southern viaduct of 3,825 m length, consisting of 84 sections of 45 m length;
  • Southern access roads of a total length of 3,895 m.

Design features Wasko da Gama Bridge

  • The structure rests on reinforced concrete piles over 2 meters in diameter, sunk to a depth of 100 meters. This allows the structure to withstand high loads and protect it from collapse in case of an earthquake.
  • While erecting the structure 730 000 m³ of concrete and 100 000 m³ of steel were used.
  • The part of the cable-stayed structure on the Lisbon side was reinforced by two H-shaped pylons 155 meters high. Fan-shaped steel cables are attached to them.
  • Speed of movement is limited to 100-120 km per hour in clear weather. In poor visibility in foggy, rainy, windy weather the speed is limited to 90 km / h throughout the bridge.
  • The height of the structure above the river is 47 meters. This will allow giant ocean liners to pass under it unhindered.
  • To preserve the unique ecological environment, the lighting is directed in such a way that the light does not fall on the water.
  • The structure blends in perfectly with the surrounding landscape, significantly changing the face of the Portuguese capital. The minimum lifespan of the structure is 120 years.
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The structure is capable of withstanding wind gusts of up to 250 km/h. and ground shocks 4.5 times larger than previously known earthquakes.

Project financing and tolls

All preparatory and construction work was funded by the Lusoponte consortium. Which ended up being $1.1 billion. No budget funds were raised. And the developer was given the right to charge tolls for 40 years on both bridges of Lisbon. Toll is made only in the direction of Lisbon, in the opposite direction the passage is free. Depending on the size of the car toll ranges from 2.70-6 euros for cars. Up to 11.70 euros for trucks.

What is interesting about the bridge for tourists bridge in lisbon

  • The Vasco da Gama Bridge in Lisbon is considered a marvel of modern engineering. It leaves a lasting impression on viewers. You can see the stunning structure from the waterfront of Lisbon, from the Parque das Nações, from the cable car cabins, from the paraglider.
  • Wonderful photos and videos are taken of the giant structure.
  • For two decades, until the Crimean bridge was commissioned, it was in first place in the ranking of the longest bridges in Europe.
  • When you enter, the opposite side is not visible, creating the illusion of infinity.
  • Part of the construction passes over the Parque das Nações, one of the most striking sights of the Portuguese capital.
  • The structure is particularly impressive at night. When an airy path of soft luminous dots flashes over the river immersed in the impenetrable darkness.
  • When all conditions are met, traffic is safe, but the route is often used by local street racers, who cause large-scale car accidents.
  • Along the entire length of the route, emergency call stations were installed every 400 meters, connected to the control room.


A holiday in Lisbon is worth devoting a few hours or even a day to a marvel of engineering genius. See it in all its splendor from different angles. Driving along a perfectly smooth road, admiring the turquoise surface of the Tagus. Pass the green banks and the panorama of Portugal’s capital in the distance.

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Vasco da Gama Bridge is one of the most important transport arteries of Lisbon. It is one of the largest and most significant constructions of the late twentieth century, unparalleled in any city in the world. The peculiar shape of the structure was created in order to maximize the preservation of the environment and maintain the ecological balance. Its part is perpendicular to the coast, while the opposite lies parallel to the shoreline.

Vasco da Gama Bridge in Lisbon

Vasco da Gama Bridge in Portugal

Vasco da Gama Bridge is located in Portugal (northeast of Lisbon). It is the longest bridge in Europe. The length of Vasco da Gama Bridge – 17.2 kilometers, width – 30 meters. Traffic on it was opened at the end of March 1998.

Vasco da Gama Bridge – the longest in Europe

Vasco da Gama Bridge joined the banks of the Tagus River. Structurally, the bridge is made on the scheme cable-stayed bridge turning into a viaduct. Vasco da Gama Bridge is one of the most recognizable landmarks of Portugal. Vasco da Gama Bridge is in harmony with nature. The designers of the bridge took care of this at the design level and one of the tasks they set was the aesthetic side of the project.

The opening of the bridge was timed to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Vasco da Gama’s discovery of the sea route from Europe to India.

Wasko da Gama Bridge length

Designing Vasco da Gama Bridge

Designing of the bridge began in 1995. The cost (design and construction) was 897 million euros or almost 1.1 billion dollars. Of course, the Vasco da Gama Bridge can not compete in length with Chinese bridges, such as the Danyang Kushan viaduct, but still the bridge is so huge that when designing had to take into account the circularity of the earth (if not taking into account the circularity – the difference in height at the different ends of the bridge would be 80 centimeters). The reinforced concrete supports of the bridge reach a height of 160 meters. The deepest piles under the bridge supports are 95 meters high.

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Wasko da Gama Bridge photo

On the bridge there is a six-lane highway. On the bridge there are two more redundant lanes. There is a toll road when crossing the bridge into Lisbon. The maximum speed allowed on the bridge is 120 kilometers per hour. The speed may be limited due to weather conditions. The main span of the bridge is 420 meters long and is supported only by cables.

On the opening day of the bridge, along the entire length (17.2 kilometers) was laid out a festive table with refreshments. Everyone who came to the opening of the Vasco da Gama Bridge could sit at the table.

Vasco da Gama Bridge photo

Vasco da Gama Bridge Portugal

Vasco da Gama Bridge Lisbon Portugal

Vasco da Gama Bridge Lisbon

Vasco da Gama Bridge in Lisbon


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