Portugal Elevador de Santa Justa

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Sue Wolfe

About this spot
At one time the Elevador de Santa Justa moved people from the Baixa district to the Largo do Carmo. Today it is mostly a tourist attraction, but it is still a 19th century marvel.

The elevator is not only functional, the wrought-iron construction material makes it an art form. It was designed by Raul Mesnier de Ponsard, a student of Gustave Eiffel (known for the Eiffel Tower). Opening day had torrential rain and lightning but more than 3,000 tickets were sold. At the end of the first year more than 500,000 passengers had ridden the lift.

The lift climbs seven stories (32 meters) and up one of the steepest hills in Lisbon. Construction began in 1900 and was opened to the public in July 1902. It was funded by the royal court. Originally it was powered by a giant steam engine. In 1907, it was converted to a much cleaner and safer electric motor. In 1973, it came under public ownership and is now managed by the same entity that runs the tram and bus network. In 2002, the Elevador de Santa Justa as well as the three remaining cable railways of Lavra, Glória and Bica, were classified as National Monuments.

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