The Vasco da Gama Bridge is a modern cable-stayed bridge that spans the estuary of the Tagus River. The 17 km long bridge opened in 1998 and connects Lisbon's eastern districts with main highways across the river. Despite the protests, the government decided to build the bridge as planned and construction started in 1995. The massive project, undertaken by an international consortium, was completed just eighteen months later. The bridge was inaugurated in March 1998, just in time for the opening of the World Expo of 1998 which celebrated the five hundred year anniversary of Vasco da Gama's discovery of a direct trade route to India. The bridge was named Ponte Vasco da Gama in honor of Portugal's most famous explorer. The bridge runs just north of the Nations' Park and spans the Tagus river at its widest part where it is known as the Mar de Palja (Sea of Straw). The bridge's main span is 45 meters above sea level and measures 420 meters long. The deck is suspended by cables to 150 meter tall pillars. The bridge is often also compared to the one in San Francisco, but a bet less long. However, whenever you visit Lisbon, your trip is not complete after seeing this marvelous bridge.