I had heard there was an Eiffel bridge in Porto, but had gotten confused thinking it was the Ponte Luis I. What I was looking for was the Ponte Maria Pia, completed by the legendary Gustavo Eiffel in 1877, roughly the same era as the Crystal Palace. Maybe not as famous as the Eiffel tower, the bridge Eiffel built is just as beautiful.
Along with the Garabit Viaduct, Ponte Maria Pia is considered one the greatest masterpieces performed by the engineer Gustave Eiffel: Construction began on the arch over the Douro River without support from below. On each side of the riverbanks, a tower was used to support the arch, which was also attached to temporary wires in the mountains. When the arch was finished Ponte Maria Pia stood by itself, and the wires were removed.
Upon completion, Porto’s trade was shut down for 3 days, as the young and old alike took to the streets for music and partying to celebrate the arrival of the railroad. Although retired from use in 1991, Eiffel’s Ponte Maria Pia continues to be considered one of the world’s most stunning bridges.