Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Stamp Issue : 1977-11-04
D. Maria Pia Bridge (Ponte Maria Pia) is a railway bridge built in 1877 by Gustave Eiffel in Porto, Portugal. Built of wrought iron, its two-hinged crescent arch carries the railway line to Lisbon for 353m spanning the River Douro at a height of 60m.
Eiffel's design was the least expensive of eight entries into an 1875 competition, being 31% less than the next lowest priced. The bridge was built to avoid a 12 km detour, and started on 5 January 1876 and completed on 4 November 1877. At that time its span of 160m was the longest arch bridge in the world, the previous record holder, at 156m, being the Eads Bridge over the Mississippi at St Louis. The bridge was opened by the king of Portugal and named after his queen Maria Pia.
In 1991 the bridge was superseded by the new St John (Ponte de São João) bridge. Despite the bridge being deactivated, this is still one of the greater city symbols. The president of the 2 cities had promise that the bridge world be reopen for walking and cycling but nothing was done yet.