Santa Justa Elevator in Lisbon - neo-gothic building in Baixa
Location show on map
Rua Santa Justa, Lisbon, Portugal
Date of build
The Santa Justa elevator in Lisbon is the fastest way to get from the Baixa district to the Bairro Alto district.
It was launched on July 10, 1902, as one of the city's public transportation systems. At that time it was called Elevador do Carmo (Elevator to Carmo).
The elevator was a huge success because before its creation, it was very difficult to travel from the top to the bottom of Lisbon and vice versa. The people of Lisbon were so excited about this novelty that 3,000 tickets were sold on the first day.
It was built in the neo-Gothic style, which is the same as the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris. It is no coincidence that it is in the same style, as it was built by the Portuguese-born French architect Raoul Mesnier de Ponsard, who was an admirer of Gustave Eiffel. Therefore, the builder used solutions similar to those of the Eiffel Tower, such as iron construction, large neo-Gothic arches or geometric patterns. Also noteworthy are the neo-Gothic details in the filigree style.
The tower has a total height of 45 meters, but it has another level reached by a spiral staircase, which is now used as a café. It is there that there is an observation deck offering great views of the Baixa district.
The elevator can transport 20 people up to a height of 32 meters at a time, but can only take 15 people down. It used to be able to carry up to 24 people.
The structure of the building consists of 7 floors in which two elevator cabs move, decorated with wood, mirrors and windows. Several transverse beams, form a double truss, supported at the top by the foundations of the Escadinhas de Santa Justa. The main machinery was installed at the base of the elevator, while at the exit to Largo do Carmo there is a veranda to allow circulation. The space for the electrical equipment was placed under the Escadinhas, in a special space set aside under the vault.
As early as 1896, the Lisbon city council proposed the construction of a vertical elevator.
The construction of the elevator took two years, starting in 1900 and completed in 1902. The inauguration took place on August 31, 1901 and was performed by King Carlos I. The construction of the facility was financed by the royal house.
The official opening to the public was on July 10, 1902, after two days of hasty testing. There was a heavy rain and thunderstorm on opening day, but despite this, over 3,000 tickets were sold that one day. By the end of the first year, more than half a million passengers had ridden the elevator, making it almost as popular as the Eiffel Tower.
The elevator was originally steam-powered until November 6, 1907, when an electric motor was installed.
In 2002, the structure was classified as a national monument, along with the city's other cable cars, Lavra, Gloria and Bica.
In 2006, a major renovation project was carried out on the elevator, during which modern safety features were added, among other things.