This is one of the most popular attractions in Lisbon, and the carriages can only take twenty nine passengers at a time, so head there early to beat the crowds!
The Santa Justa Lift connects the lower streets of Baixa to the higher Largo do Carmo. Lisbon, like a number of ancient cities, is built across seven hills. Ups and downs are therefore a fact of life, and there are a number of other elevators in Lisbon. However, they are furnicular railways, whereas the Santa Justa Lift is the only remaining vertical lift. You only need to experience Lisbon during summertime to understand why the lift was necessary.
Beforehand, animals were used to pull carriages up the inclines. The Santa Justa Lift was built to harness the marvel of the industrial age: steam power. Although now powered by electricity, it still does the same job, whisking the two polished wood carriages forty five metres upwards. Apart from the Largo do Carmo, at the top there is also a café with a glorious view of Lisbon, over Rossio Square, the castle and the river.
The French Connection
The lift was designed by the French architect Raoul de Mesnier du Ponsard, who was an apprentice to Gustave Eiffel. This goes some way to explaining the structural similarities to Paris’s Eiffel Tower which, along with the elegance of its metalwork and its status as an iconic landmark of Lisbon, have led to the Santa Justa Lift being described as the Eiffel Tower of Lisbon. It may well be the most beautiful lift in the world, with its regal neo-Gothic, wrought-iron exterior, and its sumptuous wood and brass interior.
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