Crossing the Bilbao estuary on the world’s oldest Transporter Bridge

A smattering of stories about our recent holiday to Bilbao is what I promised. Here’s the first, about an unusual bridge.

Bilbao sits astride the tidal Nervion River, whose outlet is into the Bay of Biscay. Not far to the north of Bilbao, near the mouth of the river, is the world’s oldest transporter bridge connecting the two towns, Portugalete [left side bank] and Getxo [right side bank].

The bridge has a number of names, Bizkaia Bridge in Basque language, Vizcaya Bridge in Spanish, and commonly known locally as Puente Colgante [“Hanging Bridge”].

Built between 1890 and 1893 by Alberto de Palacio in cooperation with Ferdinand Arnodin. Palacio was a disciple of Gustave Eiffel. During the Spanish civil war the bridge suffered, with the crossbeam being destroyed. It was rebuilt in 1941. In 1998 a modernised gondola was inaugurated, and in 1999 a walkway across the crossbeam.

On 13th July 2006 the bridge was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO. We crossed the river on the bridge – price remarkably cheap, just 40 cents. On the Portugalete side are images of other transporter bridges, including three in the UK. Here are our photos of the bridge.