Santa Justa Lift in Lisbon

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The Santa Justa Lift (, ), also called Carmo Lift (, ), is a elevator/lift in civil parish of Santa Justa, in the historical city of Lisbon, situated at the end of Rua de Santa Justa. It connects the lower streets of the Baixa with the higher Largo do Carmo (Carmo Square.) Since its construction, the Lift has become a tourist attraction for Lisbon as, among the urban lifts in the city, Santa Justa is the only remaining vertical one. Others, including Elevador da Glória and Elevador da Lavra, are funiculars, and the other Lift constructed around the period, the Elevator of São Julião has since been demolished.


The hills of Lisbon have always presented a problem for accessibility, especially in a time when people were required to move on foot or being pulled by horse (or other animal). In 1874, in order to facilitate the movement between the main Baixa and the Carmo Square, the civil and military engineer Roberto Arménio presented a project to the Lisbon municipal council. A similar project was suggested in 1876, that included raillines that would be pulled by animals, with an inclined plane. Until 1785, this system continued to function in the zone around Carmo.

In 1900, the formal contract was signed between the Municipal Council of Lisbon and the Empresa do Elevador do Carmo (extinct in 1939), on which the working group was obligated to present a project for an elevator in a period of six months, and the respective concessionary company would buy the Elevator in 1913, from the Empresa do Elevador do Carmo.<ref name=SIPA/>


In 1943, the Lisbon Electric Tramway Ltd. solicited the city council to authorize the transfer of the elevator to the Companhia da Carris. The process was approved, under the condition that its operation should be integrated into the transport network, with the Companhia da Carris as the principal.<ref name=SIPA/>

By 1973, a contract was signed between the municipal council of Lisbon, the Companhia da Carris and the Lisbon Electric Tramway Ltd., transferring the Elevator definitively into the city's historical tram network.<ref name=SIPA/>

In July 2002, the Santa Justa Elevator celebrated its first centenary; it along with the three remaining cable railways of Lavra, Glória and Bica were classified as National Monuments that year.<ref name=SIPA/><ref name=CarrisAnni/><ref name=MovLisboa/>

After remodelling and renovation, on February 2006, the Elevator walkway was reopened for the general public and tourists.<ref name=SIPA/>


It is included on the historical guides of Lisbon, within the Pombaline Baixa area isolated between several older historical buildings in the quarter. It is situated in the Escadinhas de Santa Justa which connects the Baixa to the Rua do Carmo.<ref name=SIPA/> The Escadinhas are actually part of the northeastern urban wall of the Baixa and west of the Rua de Santa Justa. Access is established by the elevator to many of the important zones of the city.<ref name=SIPA/> To the north, towards the Rossio (Praça D. Pedro V and Avenida da Liberdade); to the south, the Praça do Comércio abd the river zone; while in the upper zone, there are access to the Largo do Carmo, the Trindade, Church of São Roque and the Bairro Alto quarter. In addition, the panormaic views allow glimpses of the Castle of São Jorge, the Tagus River, the lower part of the Pombaline Baixa, the National Theatre D. Maria II, while the upper entrance permits a view of the ruins of the Monastery of Nossa Senhora do Vencimento do Monte do Carmo.<ref name=SIPA/>

The Elevator is a vertical structure, developed along the Rua de Santa Justa, consisting of a metallic tower, observation platform, walkway and base. Its base includes four vertical columns, each composed of two pillars.<ref name=SIPA/> The largest part of the structure runs parallel to the Rua de Santa Justa. With a height of 45 metres, covering seven stories, the tower includes two elevator cabins, decorated in wood, mirrors and windows, and an initial capacity for 24 passengers in each (updated to 29 people later).<ref name=IGESPAR/> The structure includes a dozen transverse beams, forming a double lattice, supported at the top by foundations at the Escadinhas de Santa Justa. On the sides of the elevator, the walkway is articulated by means of bearings, as well as on the pillars, which is articulated at the base.<ref name=SIPA/>

On the top floor is a kiosk and lookout, with panoramic views of the city, while connections to the floors below are made (in addition to the elevator) by two spiral staircases, with different patterns on each storey.<ref name=IGESPAR/><ref name=SIPA/> The main machinery was installed at the base of the Elevator, while at the exit to the Largo do Carmo there is a veranda to allow circulation.<ref name=SIPA/> The corridor that passes above the structure, was transformed into a terrace, and exits to Largo do Carmo through an iron gate. The space destined the electrical equipment was located under the Escadinhas, in a space set aside for this purpose, under a vaulted ceiling.<ref name=SIPA/>

The Lift is decorated in a Neo-Gothic style in iron. Since this was a new material at the time of its construction, it is symbolic of the technical and memorial construction from this period, representing the culture of the 1900s, when the structure and elevators were considered a magical innovation and portent of a modern age.<ref name=SIPA/>

See also

  • Katarina Elevator