The Hanging Bridge (Puente Colgante) was inaugurated on 28th July 1893, a shuttle linking the towns of Las Arenas, on the right bank of the Bilbao river, and Portugalete on the left bank. The massive iron structure, superb testimony to Vizcaya’s significant industrialization at the end of the 19th century, defying the day’s storm. Its 400,000 rivets on steel pieces and its 4 towers each 51 metres high – two on each side – resisting the gusts of wind, helped by 8 metal cables. A 160 metre long deck, towering 45 metres over the estuary, linking the two towns, symbolises the triumph of man and his technology over the adversity of nature and over the difficulty of such a grandiose construction project.
The transport gondola took people all day following the mass celebrated on board to bless the work. The people enjoyed the new monument without knowing that it would with time become part of the natural landscape of the mouth of Bilbao’s river. A structure which, apart from the gondola and some retouches in 1999 during the last remodelling, has remained the same during the entire 20th century. It was the first hanging shuttle bridge in the entire world.
The official inauguration of the Vizcaya Hanging Bridge (Puente Colgante de Vizcaya) took place on 28th July 1893, just over three years after the work had started.