Vizcaya Bridge

Getxo, Spain

The Vizcaya Bridge (commonly called Puente Colgante) links the towns of Portugalete and Las Arenas (part of Getxo), crossing the mouth of the Nervion River. It is the world's oldest transporter bridge and was built in 1893, designed by Alberto Palacio, one of Gustave Eiffel's disciples. The Engineer Ferdinand Joseph Arnodin was in charge, and the main financier of the project was Santos Lopez de Letona. It was the solution given by the engineer to the problem of connecting the towns of Portugalete and Getxo without disrupting the maritime traffic of the Port of Bilbao and without having to build a massive structure with long ramps. Palacio wanted to design a bridge which could transport passengers and cargo, and that could allow ships to go through. Palacio's shuttle bridge was adequate and could be built for a reasonable price.

The service was only interrupted once, for four years, during the Spanish Civil War, when the upper section was dynamited. From his house in Portugalete, Palacio saw his masterpiece partially destroyed just before his own death.

In 2006 the Vizcaya Bridge was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In Spain, it is the only monument in the Industrial Heritage category. UNESCO considers the bridge to be a perfect combination of beauty and functionality. It was the first to use a combination of iron technology and new steel cables which began a new form of constructing bridges which was later imitated throughout the world.

Operation

The bridge, still in use, is 164 meters long, and its gondola can transport six cars and several dozen passengers in one and a half minutes.

It operates every 8 minutes during the day (every hour at night), all year round, with different fares for day and night services, and is integrated into Barik card system. An estimated four million passengers and half a million vehicles use the bridge annually.

There are two new visitor lifts installed in the 50-metre-high pillars of the bridge that allow walking over the bridge's platform, from where there is a view of the port and the Abra bay.

Architecture

The structure is made of four 61 metre towers which are the pillars and stand on the river banks. The towers are braced by iron cables to the crossbeam and are parallel to the river and by cables following the line of the bridge into the hill behind (on the Portugalete side) and the ground (on the Las Arenas side). The upper crossbeam which lies horizontally, rests between two towers by 70 suspension cables. They also help support a great amount of weight and are supported in the corbels which helps balance the weight. The gondola transports vehicles and they hang from a 36-wheeled caty and is 25m. long. It moves along the rails through the horizontal crossbeam.

Construction

The structure is 45 metres high and 160 metres long. In the final design it was decided to use two horizontal girders to support the rails, and these are supported by four pillars which stand on four towers which are situated on the river banks. It is made of iron. Much iron was extracted from the mines of Vizcaya, which increased the mining and shipping industry. Therefore, the Vizcaya Bridge also represents the growth and triumph of a new era.

References:

Comments

Your name



Details

Founded: 1893
Category: Industrial sites in Spain

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Lukas Sulc (8 months ago)
Interesting historical bridge, very unique and you you can actually cross even by car. It's moving from one side to the other very quickly so you can catch your ride like every five minutes.
Paolo Sanguineti (11 months ago)
One of the last standing bridges of this type, Eiffel tower style and the only way to cross this part of the river still nowadays is quite impressive
Steph Northan (12 months ago)
Very cool experience. Pretty well organised but less than well advertised on things like payment. Only cash is possible.
Gina Adzani (13 months ago)
Exceptional way to cross a river. The ticket is 0.45€ for one person, you can also cross with your bicycle, motorcycle, or car with different tariffs. I guess you just have to try it because you wouldn't find any other means of crossing a river this way. It's only like 20 seconds trip but it's cool.
seulberg lala (13 months ago)
If you are in the area, wjether you need to cross the bridge or not, just include it in your trip - what a unique method of transportation. Truly, the best transformer.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Frösö Runestone

Frösöstenen is the northern-most raised runestone in the world and Jämtland's only runestone. It originally stood at the tip of ferry terminal on the sound between the island of Frösön and Östersund. The stone dates to between 1030 and 1050. It has now been relocated to the lawn in front of the local county seat due to the construction of a new bridge, between 1969 and 1971, on the original site.

Frösö runestone inscription means: Austmaðr, Guðfastr's son, had this stone raised and this bridge built and Christianized Jämtland. Ásbjörn built the bridge. Trjónn and Steinn carved these runes.