Anyone afraid of heights would do well to avoid the Arouca 516 Bridge in Portugal. The new structure is over 53 stories high. But height isn’t its claim to fame. The Arouca 516 is the world’s longest footbridge.
Guinness World Records currently reports on its website that the world’s longest suspension bridge for pedestrians is Japan’s Kokonoe Yume Bridge. That bridge opened in 2006 and spans 1,280 feet. But the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge, which opened in the Swiss Alps in 2017, challenges that mark at 1,621 feet.
Now the Arouca 516 Bridge comes along to one-up both records. The bridge website says early Inca bridges that once spanned the Andes mountain valleys inspired the Arouca 516.
The lengthy bridge dangles over a river canyon in northern Portugal. The area boasts some of God’s most beautiful natural gems: rocky mountains covered with lush vegetation, a roaring river, and a frothy waterfall.
The “516” in the bridge’s name comes from the structure’s record-busting length: 516 meters (1,700 feet). Portuguese authorities call it the world’s longest pedestrian bridge.
Brave souls can now traverse nearly 1/3 of a mile on a narrow metal footbridge suspended from cables. Some 574 feet below, the Paiva River flows through a waterfall.
Arouca lies 186 miles north of Lisbon, the Portuguese capital. Local residents got a first walk on the bridge last week. Many were thrilled—even as some admitted it was a little unnerving to feel so high up and exposed.
“I was a little afraid, but it was so worth it,” says Arouca local Hugo Xavier.
Workers began construction on the bridge in May 2018. It cost $2.8 million to build. Children under age six are not allowed on the walkway. All visitors must be accompanied by guides.
Arouca Bridge opened to the general public just yesterday. Crossing the bridge costs between 10 and 12 euros ($12-14). Tickets for the sky-high adventure must be booked through a local website.
City officials hope the Arouca 516 will boost the area’s flagging economy—and that tourists will flock to the attraction locals describe as “frighteningly beautiful.”
(People walk across a narrow footbridge suspended across a river canyon in Arouca, northern Portugal, on Sunday, May 2, 2021. Portuguese authorities claim it is the world’s longest pedestrian bridge. AP/Sergio Azenha)