Electricity Pylons of Cadiz – Cádiz, Spain - Atlas Obscura

Electricity Pylons of Cadiz

The world's most elegant power lines. 


Cadiz is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Spain, an ancient (even by Andalusian standards) cluster of buildings on a tiny spit of land jutting into the Atlantic Ocean. Every old city has its problems adjusting to the modern age, but Cadiz, because of its unique geography, was confronted with a uncommon problem: how to link up with the power grid of mainland Spain.

The solution was, if not totally unique, unusual and remarkable. Instead of tracing the power lines along the peninsula through the crowded old city, engineers built two enormous steel towers on either side of the Bay of Cadiz and strung the massive power cords between them. At 158 meters, each tower is just a little smaller than the Washington Monument, or about the height of a forty-story building.

The Puntales Tower, in the city of Cadiz, and the Matagorda Tower, nearly a mile across the bay in Punto Real, were commissioned in the late 1950s by dictator Francisco Franco. Designed by Alberto Toscana, who did a similar project in Sicily, the towers are hollow frustra (truncated cones) of steel lattice, tapering from about 20 meters at the base to about 6 meters at the crown. It is said that the lattice pattern of the towers, which is aesthetically appealing and reminiscent of the top portion of the Eiffel Tower, was mandated by a shortage of steel, a material Franco was unable to procure in bulk.

Each tower features a spiral staircase winding around the inside of the lattice, but climbing is not open to the public.

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August 4, 2009

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