rio tejo

Known as Rio Tejo in Portuguese, the Tagus River in Lisbon is one of the longest rivers in the Iberian Peninsula, with a length of 1,038 km. From eastern Spain in Sierra de Albarracín, the river flows through the west across Spain and Portugal.

Rio Tejo flows across Portugal for 179 km. From north of Portugal, it then flows into the Atlantic Ocean near Lisbon. 

The river in Lisbon has been an important spot for both Spain and Portugal’s economic development. It also provides a great view for residents to enjoy. 

The 275 km of the river in Portugal is used for farm irrigation in the Alentejo region.

Both the estuary and the river itself offer a great view of the capital city Lisbon. 

Let’s discover the history and the importance of this great river in more detail.

Historical Background of the River Tagus

Before the name Tagus, this hanging bridge was called Antonio Salazar. The Tagus Bridge then took its name from the 1974 military coup. 

The Vasco da Gama Bridge also takes place across the Tagus River. The Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama is the reason for the naming of the bridge. 

The Tagus bridge was built in 1998. It’s also the longest bridge in Europe with a length of 17.2 km, built within 1,5 years. It stretches from eastern Lisbon to the west bank of the Tagus River estuary. Tagus Bridge is also able to withstand hurricanes up to 250 km/h and earthquakes. 

While designing the bridge, they also considered energy efficiency and the environment. For this reason, the lamps of the bridge lighten up only the roadway and not the river.

The Portuguese government also considered the issue of hydroelectrical power and irrigation. To this end, over 60 dams were built between 1960 and 1980. In this way, the river helps irrigate the arid areas around it. The generation of hydroelectric power from the river also contributes to the country’s economy as well. 

About the River Tagus

We’ve mentioned the dams built around the river above. The installed power capacity of these aforementioned dams is more than 1,200,000 kilowatts. 

One of Lisbon rivers, the River Tagus basin is also home to coniferous trees that contribute to the timber industry. A certain division of the cultivated land is used for cereal farming as well. Vineyards and olive trees are also available. 

There are also diverse animal species including that European and North African. 

You can take a journey along the Tagus river via Lisbon ferries.

Importance of Rio Tejo

  • Tagus River Lisbon played an important role in communication between the land areas. It also contributed to the development of trade links between mainland areas and the ocean cost.
  • River Tagus also contributes to the irrigation system, especially in the months when there’s no rain. It supplies water for the agricultural lands. In this way, it alleviates the burden on the economy as well.
  • Blackbirds and starlings can also find food on the river’s shores.
  • In the Lisbon area, the water of the Tagus River Lisbon is also very clean, and you can enjoy a boat cruise as well.
  • Until recently, it was thought that the Rio Tejo was not suitable for swimming because of the ships and industry enterprises. However, the condition of the river seems improving, according to environmentalists. So, if the officials and the residents are careful, the river can become clean water to swim in. To this end, the treatment of wastewater is of importance.
  • In 2013, the authorities marked one of the beaches in the Tagus estuary is suitable for swimming. It was Ponta dos Corvus in Seixal.


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