The world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge has recently been completed in Portugal, with access granted to the public today. At 175 meters high, the 516 Arouca serves as a viewing point to the surrounding green mountains and the fast-flowing river beneath.
An inauguration had taken place yesterday for the town’s municipal holiday, with Minister for Territorial Cohesion, Ana Abrunhosa in attendance. Connecting to the banks popular kayaking tourist spot, Paiva River, the gigantic 516 Arouca attraction opens up to the public today. Check out the bridge in the video below:
VIDEO: Portugal opens the longest suspended pedestrian bridge in the world in Arouca. The bridge hangs on heavy steel cables strung between V-shaped concrete towers and runs 516 metres (1700 feet) across a canyon, at a height of 175 metres pic.twitter.com/bOL5CrNCJZ
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) April 30, 2021
The record-breaking bridge measures in at an incredible 516 meters long, or roughly 1,692 feet, and is suspended 175 meters, 574 feet, above the river. Around an hour south of Porto, the bridge resides in the town of Arouca, in the UNESCO-recognized Arouca Geopark, an area famous for its nature tourism and outdoor activities. The impressive bridge has surpassed the former record-holder, 494 m (1,621 ft) Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge in the Swiss Alps.
Under construction since May 2018, the 516 Arouca “is inspired by the Inca bridges that spanned the Andes mountain valleys,” a release says. “The structure is co-financed by the PROVERE program, from the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) North 2020. The cost of the work is around €1.7 million.”
Speaking with Reuters, the mayor of Arouca, Margarida Belém described the 516 construction project as part of an effort to incentivize locals to stay and tourists to visit. Belém said, “There were many challenges that we had to overcome … but we did it. There’s no other bridge like this one in the world.”
Designed by Portuguese studio, Itecons and constructed by Conduril, the bridge’s steel structure is supported by two V-shaped concrete towers. The floor and side railings are made of metal grids, offering unobstructed views of the vast, green mountains and rocky gorge. Arouca 516 reportedly takes about 10 minutes to cross and according to its official website, it is “not for the faint of heart”.
For years there has been a competition for the longest suspension bridge in the world, with the record held by the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge, until now. Located near Zermatt in Switzerland, this suspension bridge is 494 meters long, some twenty meters shorter than the Arouca 516.
Many suspension bridges span across a massive gorge, as does this one, but the 516 offers more to the eye. The attraction in Arouca has an impressive view of the waterfall, giving the bridge something extra, and is said to be the best way to see this waterfall.
The 516 is built in the Arouca Geopark and is part of UNESCO’s European Network of Geoparks. Quite particularly, the Arouca Geopark is geological heritage because of the many fossils found here. The park is popular amongst outdoor enthusiasts as you can canoe, kayak, mountain climb and you can also go canyoning. With the construction of this massive attraction, the area will also be popular amongst international outdoor enthusiasts.