I believe every major city should have something that little bit on the quirky side and, with that in mind, Lisbon offers the visitor this. Located in downtown Baixa, this elevator was designed by a follower of French engineer Gustav Eiffel and connects the lower streets of the Baixa with the higher Largo do Carmo (Carmo Square).
It was designed by Raul Mesnier de Ponsard, an engineer born in Porto to French parents. Construction began in 1900 and was finished in 1902; originally powered by steam, it was converted to electrical operation in 1907. The iron lift is 45 metres tall and is decorated in neo-gothic style, with a different pattern on each storey. The top storey is reached by helicoidal staircases and has a terrace that offers views of Lisbon Castle, Rossio Square and the Baixa neighbourhood. One tip, don't bother going right to the top as the views from where the lift stops are just as go plus you don't have to pay.
This is one of those most-do-things whilst in Lisbon like so many major tourist destinations have (like riding on open-top buses etc). Tram (or "Eléctrico" in Portuguese) Line 28 is one of only three traditional tram lines that still operate in Lisbon. These trams, which until the late-1980's ran all through-out Lisbon, were manufactured between 1936 and 1947. Tram 28 winds its way through the "Old Town" of Lisbon beginning in Graça then down to Alfama and to Baixa then up through Chiado to Bairro Alto and then down to Campo Ourique, taking you by many of Lisbon's most famous and interesting sites including monuments, churches and gardens. The trip is hilly, noisy and hectic but it affords many beautiful glimpses of the city. And, although the tram can sometimes be overrun with tourists, you will definitely get a flavour of the locals, as many "Lisboetas" commute daily on these historical trams. Tickets cost €1.45 per journey and can be purchased on-board at a vending machine (note that these machines do not accept notes, and are sometime even out of change, so make sure you have the correct change!)
This Neo-Gothic tower was built at the beginning of the 20th century. The architect was Raoul de Mesnier du Ponsard, an apprentice of Gustave Eiffel, hence the similarity.
The tower is 45 metres high and connects Baixa and Bairro Alto. After a ride up in the lift you reach a cafe. There are spectacular views of Lisbon from here.
Lisbon's Elevador de Santa Justa in the Baixa (lower town) is a unique and picturesque feature of the city's varied personality. It is a peculiar-looking structure but one which clearly generates constant curiousity and interest to the visitor of this city. It is a funicular or elevator of a different elk. First of all, it is an elevator within a tower in the open space and visibility of a crowded street...as tho it had been planted there like a giant iron-rod right into the ground towering and seeming to be so formidable against natural forces.
Lisbon has four funiculars or elevadores which were designed and built to provide a measure of convenience and ease for the residents in this superbly hilly city ferrying them to the top-of-the-hill neighborhoods from the Baixa. And they afford a comfortable, scenic and memorable ride. There are the Elevador da Gloria, the most popular of all which runs up to Bairro Alto from Praca dos Restauradores, the Elevador da Bica, at the lower end of Bairro Alto near the Praca do Camoes just off the fashionable Chiado which takes passengers down to the riverfront area around the Cais do Sodre train station, the Elevador da Lavra on the opposite hill up the steep Mouraria district of Lisbon. And there's the Elevador de Santa Justa, the most eccentric-looking of them all which provides the quickest way for one to reach Bairro Alto at Largo do Carmo on the grounds of the fabled ruins of Convento do Carmo (Convent of the Carmelites destroyed in the 1755 earthquake) from the shopping streets of the Baixa. Of course, these days when this very elevator has so gained the status of a celebrity, only mostly tourists take the ride up to obtain a most breathtaking panoramic view of the city as well as to experience the cafe located at the very top upon a vertigo-inducing setting.
The Elevador de Santa Justa built during the late1800's is the work of the French architect Raoul Mesnier, an apprentice of the famous Alexander Gustave Eiffel of the Eiffel tower fame of Paris. A neo-gothic style made of heavy wrought-iron and embellished with intricate feligrees, the funicular is a fantastic work of engineering rising up to a height of 105 feet. Another of its principal attraction are its two wood-paneled elevator cabins complete with brass fittings which carry passengers up and down.
Saint Justa Elevator (Elevador de Santa Justa) First opened to the public in 1902, It was designed in a neo-Gothic style by Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard who had been an apprentice to Gustave Eiffel (designer of the Eiffel Tower in Paris).
The Elevator rises vertically some 45 meters from Rua de Santa Justa in Baixa to Largo do Carmo it offers some great views of the city and the River Tagus.
it costs € 2,80 for 2 trips and is open every day between 8.00 a.m. to 9.00 p.m.
This is one of Lisbon’s most distinctive sights, a lift in the middle of the city that transports its passengers from the low-lying Baixa to the fringes of the Bairro Alto in seconds, offering spectacular vistas of the streets below as it does so. I hesitated over whether to place it here as a “Thing to Do” or to include it as a transport tip, and in the end decided that although it clearly is a means of transport, it is such an iconic sight, and so many ride the lift simply for the experience and the views, that it merited its inclusion here.
The lift was designed by Raul Mesnier de Ponsard, a Portuguese engineer who studied under Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame (some sources seem to erroneously give Eiffel himself as the designer). It is made of iron, the metal shaped into neo-gothic arches and ornaments, each storey different from those above and below. Its 45 metres link the streets of the Baixa to the Largo do Carmo above, and passengers emerge on to a viewing terrace affording an excellent panorama of the city’s rooftops and characteristic black and white paved streets and squares, including Rossio, with the Alfama and its castle beyond. From here a walkway bridges the gap to the Largo do Carmo, your gateway to the Bairro Alto.
You can use your Lisbon Card or any of the various public transport cards to pay for your ride, but if you don’t have any of these a return trip will cost €2.80 and is worth it in my opinion not only for the views but also to spare you the steep walk and save your energy for explorations around the Bairro Alto’s maze of streets.
As Lisbon presents a very irregular relief the city authorities start to develop funiculars and lifts, means of transportation which become very useful to people who do not wish to climb the hills on foot. Leading to Bairro Alto there are three lifts or elevators, and Santa Justa Elevator, aka Elevator of Carmo, which connects the lower city with the Chiado district is the only vertical one.
Constructed in neo-gothic style with wrought iron and glass, and agreeably decorated, the lift is similar to a metallic tower (45 meters high) and is a unique post-Eiffel iron architecture masterpiece. This landmark of downtown Lisbon was a project of Raul Ponsard (Eiffel’s pupil) and was put on service on 1902. Originally powered by steam it was changed to electricity a few years later and it still works today as it was at that time.
Getting on the elevator is like entering an open air museum and you can go up to the esplanade and take in panoramic views over all of Lisbon -Igreja do Carmo nearby, the Rossio and the Avenida da Liberdade, the castle, the river, Alfama and the cathedral.
Of course this tourist attraction is often crowded mostly in summer time and around other major tourist events. So if you want to get that view and you don’t want to wait on the line follow my suggestion -go on foot take the Carmo and Garrett streets go to Carmo’s plaza and from there take the last 20m via a spiral staircase and enjoy the splendid views.
I go from time to time to the cafeteria on the top just to get the magnificent panorama over the city centre and the gorgeous Tejo river... and get some photos.
Open - 7am- 11pm; Sundays and holidays: - 9am- 11pm
Served by several buses (www.carris.pt) and Baixa/Chiado metro station or Rossio metro station (www.metrolisboa.pt)
The neo-Gothic Elevador Santa Justa is probably Lisbon's most popular lift. The 45 m tall structure was built between 1900 and 1902 by Raul Mesnier de Ponsard who was an apprentice of Gustav Eiffel.
The lift connects the Baixa with the Bairro Alto district. Apart from that it offers splendid views of the Baixa.
A return ticket is 2,40 Euro (2006), but you can also enter the viewing platform for free when coming from Lago do Carmo in the Bairro Alto district.
The Elevador de Santa Justa is located in the Baixa district, just in between the Rossio square and the Praca do Comercio. The nearest metro stop is "Baixa-Chiado" (blue and green line).
Walk it was exactly what I did and thank goodness I didn’t need to talk to anyone on the way up or down. While fit enough but not overly, I had to stop several times to catch my breath on the way up. There is a path that runs either side of the tram tracks. If you can manage the hike, the walk is certainly worth it.
The angle is at a gradient of 18% in most places and runs for 265 metres. It only takes around a minute or so to complete the journey to the upper station on Rua de Sao Pedro de Alcantara, but certainly the only means to get up to the top of the hill unless you are fairly fit and want to walk it.
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