World's Longest Pedestrian Suspension Bridge Now Open in Portugal

The new bridge is breaking world records.
Loukia Papadopoulos
515 Arouca is 1,692 feet (516 meters) long.516 Arouca

If you are afraid of heights then don't read this article. The world's longest pedestrian suspension bridge is opening on Monday in Portugal, according to a press release by UNESCO's Arouca World Geopark, and it is bound to give even the bravest of adventurers a rush of adrenaline.

The bridge measures 516 meters (1,692 feet) long and is suspended 175 meters (574 feet) above a river. It's named the 516 Arouca bridge because it is located in the town of Arouca.

The bridge hangs on steel cables strung between V-shaped concrete towers and connects the banks of the Paiva River. It takes supposedly a short 10 minutes to cross, but we venture a guess that it will seem much longer as passengers may fear for their lives.

The record-breaking bridge took several years to build and was designed by Portuguese studio Itecons. It was constructed by Conduril and cost about $2.8 million (2.3 million euros).

A 'frighteningly beautiful' tourism project

The people of Arouca now hope it will bring tourism to the region that will revive the economy. "It is a breath of fresh air for our land because it will attract more investment, more people," tour guide Emanuel said to Reuters. "It will bring a new dynamic to Arouca."

The sentiment was repeated by Arouca's mayor Margarida Belem who expressed a great amount of pride in the bridge in a recent press release. He stated that the bridge "is an essential tourist infrastructure to reinforce the tourist attractiveness of the municipality and its position in the nature tourism market”.

"Going through it will certainly be a remarkable and memorable experience," Belem guaranteed. "For those who have already done the Walkways, the bridge will be an excellent reason to return. Those who have not yet had the opportunity to travel, now have an additional reason to do so."

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The new bridge has now overtaken Switzerland's 1,621-feet (494-meter) Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge as the world's longest pedestrian suspension bridge.

Suspension bridges have a long history as they are some of the first bridges ever built by man. They were first engineered with vines and were needless to say quite unstable. The eighth century saw the arrival of Chinese bridges constructed by laying planks between pairs of iron chains.

However, it wasn't until 1808 that the modern suspension bridge was created when an American named James Finley patented a system for suspending a rigid deck from a bridge's cables. This system now provides the foundation on which even the greatest record-breaking bridges are built!

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