Near the end of the Ría de Nervión, joining Getxo and Portugalete, we find the Vizcaya Bridge, an iron structure that is a World Heritage Site and is the first ferry built in the world.
The Hanging Bridge, as it is also known, is one of the symbols of the Industrial Revolution and one of the emblems of the city of Bilbao (although it is not really in this city).
It was built to connect Portugalete with the neighborhood of Las Arenas de Getxo without affecting the passage of ships to the port of Bilbao, one of the most important in Europe.
History and construction of the Vizcaya Bridge
The origins of the bridge date back to the end of the 19th century
That was when Alberto Palacio Elissague (which is why it is also known as Puente Palacio) was commissioned to design a bridge to join the two neighborhoods at the mouth of the Nervión without hindering the passage of ships.
The Vizcaya Bridge was inaugurated in 1893, becoming the first iron ferry bridge in the world, facilitating transit between the two shores of areas that received a large influx of tourists thanks to their spas.
The bridge was the winner of a series of projects that were presented and is one of the few survivors of that time of the different iron bridges, which were based on it, that were built later.
Description and operation of the bridge
The Vizcaya Bridge, which was considered a symbol of progress and power at the end of the 19th century, is made up of 4 towers, 61 meters high, joined by a beam no less than 160 meters long, located 45 meters above the estuary.
It was built in iron like the main great constructions of the time, such as the Eiffel Tower, since this mineral was considered to be a symbol of progress as it was the material used to build the great advances of the Industrial Revolution.
The bridge operates 24 hours a day and makes a trip every 8 minutes. In its gondola it can transport up to 6 cars and 200 passengers joining both shores in a minute and a half.
In addition, in order to receive tourist visits, since 1999 the bridge has had 2 lifts located at each end to access the pedestrian walkway.
Visit the Vizcaya Bridge
In addition to using the bridge to move between the two banks of the Bilbao Estuary, you can also take a tourist visit in which you will discover all the secrets of the Vizcaya Bridge.
If you decide to visit the bridge as a Biscayan would do, all you have to do is get on the gondola and travel between Getxo and Portugalete, or vice versa.
The rates to get on the gondola depend on the time of day (it works 24 hours a day). You can find the complete rates on the official page of the Puente de Vizcaya.
If you want to access the footbridge through the panoramic lifts, which is 45 meters high, you will have great views of the Ría de Bilbao and you will also be able to listen to the history of the Bridge. There is also the possibility of taking a guided tour.
You can find more information on the official website of the Vizcaya Bridge.