Portugal's Spectacular Santa Justa Lift Takes Elevators Up A Level

It's the 'Eiffel Tower of Portugal.'
ullstein bild via Getty Images

Most of us get around the usual, boring way: walking, driving, biking, busing or taking the subway. But for those who need to get around Lisbon, "The City of Seven Hills," it can be tricky (not to mention exhausting as hell) to navigate all those inclines.

Because Portugal is awesome, its capital city built funiculars and lifts to take residents up and down. The system was hardy enough to have lasted more than 130 years, and one of these contraptions -- highlighted by Amusing Planet earlier this week -- might just be the most ornate, beautiful elevator we've ever seen.

The Elevador de Santa Justa, designed by the engineer Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard, opened in 1902. A former student of civil engineer and architect Gustave Eiffel, Ponsard pitched the idea to improve upon the animal-powered lift system in place at the time.

What he built was a regal neo-Gothic, wrought-iron 147-foot column that one could consider the Eiffel Tower of Portugal. Also known as the Santa Justa Lift, its two cabins, which depart every few minutes from 7 a.m. to 10 or 11 p.m. daily, are decorated with wood panels and brass fittings. A platform at the top, reached by a spiral staircase, offers sweeping views of the Baixa, Rossio and a castle on the opposite hill.

Three other lifts -- the Lift of Glory, which opened in 1885; the Ascensor da Bica, inaugurated in 1892; and the Ascensor do Lavra, Lisbon's oldest, which opened in 1884 -- are all national monuments, but the Elevador de Santa Justa is the most popular among tourists. See why below:

ullstein bild via Getty Images
Elevador do Lavra
Lift of Glory
Ascensor da Bica

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