Already during my first visit to Lisbon, more than two decades ago, my attention was drawn to the Elevador de Santa Justa or do Carmo, the Santa Justa or Carmo elevator. Not only is it not very common to see elevators in the street; it also seemed like a brilliant idea in a hilly city like Lisbon. In Lisbon, there are more ways to conquer the surrounding hills and get up to the higher neighbourhoods: there are a few funiculars (called elevadores as well) and old trams working their way up the steep hills, and obviously you can train your legs and walk, too. But the Elevador de Santa Justa is the only elevator, and the most efficient one in that it takes you up fastest.
The Elevador Santa Justa is not only striking in its function, it is also so because of its design. Its creative father was Raul Mesnier de Ponsard, a Portuguese engineer with French parents, and an apprentice of none less than Gustave Eiffel. It was built right at the beginning of the 20th century, in neo-gothic style. While not as impressive and defining as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Elevador Santa Justa stands 45 metres tall and, unlike the Eiffel Tower, has a pratical function: taking up people to the upper part of the city - although most of its passengers seem to be tourists.
At the foot of the Elevador de Santa Justa, you can get a close-up view of the lower floors by walking the surrounding stairs. The gothic style is evident here; every floor has a different pattern. The entrance to the elevator itself is at ground level. There are two cabins, each with a capacity of 24 passengers. The lift is operated by an operator, and has a classy wooden interior. There is only one stop: the top floor. From here, you can take spiral stairs to the viewing platform which offers fine views in all directions over Lisbon: São Jorge Castle, the Tagus river, the neighbourhoods which are downtown Lisbon. Instead of taking the elevator down, you can also walk straight to Carmo Square from the elevator floor.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Santa Justa Lift (Portugal). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Santa Justa Lift. Read more about this site.