For the improvement of electric power supply of Sicilia, an enormous overhead power-line crossing was built in 1955. The line has a span-width of 3646 meters carried by two 232-meter tall towers, one north of Messina in Sicily, and one at Porticello. Until 1971 the line consisted of a single three-phase 150 kV-AC system with 4 conductors, whereby the 4th conductor served as reserve. In 1971 2 further conductors for a second three phase AC-system were installed and the voltage was increased to 220 kV, which allowed a total transmission capacity of 300 MW.
The pylons of this line, whose stability was tested by firing small rockets on the top, were the tallest electricity pylons in the world until the mid-70s.
However after 1985, a 380 kV submarine cable with a transmission capacity of 600 MW was laid through Messina Strait, the overhead crossing lost its importance and was shut-down in 1993. One year later, the conductors were dismantled.
Today, the pylons have been declared national monuments, and are used for high-altitude rescue exercises, meteorological measurements and radio services.. The pylon on the Sicilian shore is illuminated at night and tourists can visit it and have a look over Messina Strait from its top. However, one must scale the tower’s 1250 steps, which might be the tallest public staircase in Europe.
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