The Eyeful Tower: Lisbon’s Santa Justa Elevator

Santa Justa Elevator, LisbonIn some guidebooks, Lisbon’s Santa Justa Elevator is said to have been designed by Gustave Eiffel (yes, of the Eiffel Tower), but that is not exactly true. Mr. Eiffel had many disciples and one of them was Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard, a Portuguese architect born in Porto of French parents. Ponsard was the real creator of Santa Justa Elevator which several publications have listed as one of the world’s best examples of iron architecture during the Industrial Revolution.

This curious construction was a necessity in Lisbon in order to connect downtown to the hilly Bairro Alto and Chiado neighborhoods. It was the fastest way to reach the top of the hill, and while cars and the metro do that today, this dramatic structure still has people lining up to go for a ride. It’s mostly done for touristic purposes, as it provides a 360-degree view over the city. And you do get an eyeful — you overlook all of downtown, towards the castle and Alfama, to Edward VII Park and the uptown high-rises. There is a naturally overpriced café (which you can skip) on the top platform, and you can stand there to take photos of the views.

If you have the tourist card (recommended) you can ride for free, otherwise it will cost you 2,80 euros. But here’s a little secret only a local and will tell you: you can reach the top for free! Simply head to the Carmo Convent ruins in Chiado, and enter the gate to the right of it. You’ll find yourself almost at the very top, and you then take the spiraling stairs to the cafe at 45 meters (147ft) above the ground.

For complete information about this Lisbon landmark, see GoLisbon’s Santa Justa Elevator page.

One Response to “The Eyeful Tower: Lisbon’s Santa Justa Elevator”

  1. GolfPortugal Says:

    I have an apartment near this elevator, I must admit I am scared of heights and this elevator scared the life out of me.