World's longest pedestrian suspension bridge opens in Portugal

Maureen O'HareUpdated 30th April 2021
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(CNN) — The world's longest pedestrian suspension bridge has just opened in Portugal.
516 Arouca -- so called because it's 516 meters long and is in the town of Arouca, an hour south of Porto -- connects Aguieiras Waterfall and Paiva Gorge and is the latest adventure offering in the Arouca Geopark, known for its extreme sports.
It takes about 10 minutes to cross if you're taking in the panoramic views of the waterfall, the gorge and the fast-moving river seen through the open grid beneath your feet -- four if you're saying your prayers and making a dash for the end of it.
It's a Tibetan-style hanging bridge, held up by steel cables and two huge V-shaped towers, and is 1,692 feet, if that makes it feel any more manageable.
The River Paiva flows 176 meters (576 feet) below the pathway's three-foot-wide open metal grid.
The railings are rigid netting, while the deck is constructed of 127 four-meter long modules.
At 516 meters (1,692 feet), Portugal's Arouca 516 is the world's longest pedestrian suspension bridge.
At 516 meters (1,692 feet), Portugal's Arouca 516 is the world's longest pedestrian suspension bridge.
Designed by Portuguese studio Itecons, it took three years to build, with construction completed in July 2020.
It's in the eastern part of the Geopark, close to Paiva Walkways, Areinho and Vau river beaches, and the villages of Alvarenga, Canelas and Espiunca.
"This bridge aims at targeting the interest of different types of people: engineering lovers, nature connoisseurs, people who are fond of extreme experiences," said the local council, Arouca Municipality, in a statement released last year.
Arouca 516 has stolen the longest pedestrian suspension bridge title from the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge in Switzerland, which spans 1,621 feet and opened in 2017. That bridge boasts views of the Matterhorn, Weisshorn and Bernese Alps.
The longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the United States is the SkyBridge in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, which stretches 680 feet across a valley in the Great Smoky Mountains.
It opened in May 2019, but was shut down briefly in June 2020 after a reckless visitor tried a baseball-style slide across the glass panels, cracking the floor.
If height impresses you more than length, the world's tallest glass-bottomed suspension bridge is Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge in China, which allows visitors to bungee jump off its 853-foot-high (260-meter) platform.