Ponte 516 Arouca

World's Longest Pedestrian Suspension Bridge Opens To Visitors In Portugal

Ryan Ford

For some areas, finding the right thing to draw in tourists can be a challenge. Not everywhere can be Hawaii, or have Egypt's Pyramids or Paris's Eiffel Tower, for example.

But hey, if you don't have an Eiffel Tower handy, you can always build one — just ask Las Vegas!

Better still, you can build something completely different, which is the direction Portugal decided to go with.

Portugal just opened up a new, awe- and possibly anxiety-inspiring attraction: the world's longest pedestrian suspension bridge.

Ponte 516 Arouca

The 516 Arouca takes its name from the town it's located next to, Arouca — situated about an hour south of Porto — and the length of the bridge, 516 meters (about 1,700 feet). For the record, the longest such bridge in the U.S. is the 680-foot SkyBridge in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Arouca is already renowned both as a UNESCO-recognized Geopark and as a playground for those into extreme sports like rock-climbing, hiking, whitewater rafting, and kayaking.

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Now, the 516 Arouca gives visitors a new way to get their hearts pumping.

Ponte 516 Arouca

It's not the tallest pedestrian bridge in the world — that title belongs to China's Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge, which tops out at 853 feet in height — but the 516 Arouca still soars an impressive 175 meters (about 576 feet) above the rushing River Paiva, with nothing but metal grids separating those crossing from the empty space below.

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Even before it officially opened, some brave few did indeed cross the structure.

Ponte 516 Arouca

Arouca locals were invited to take a stroll across the new attraction before it started welcoming tourists, and they confirmed that the experience was indeed exhilirating.

"I was a little afraid, but it was also worth it," the first person across, Hugo Xavier, told The Guardian. "It was extraordinary, a unique experience, an adrenaline rush."

Rui Brando, another local who braved the span, concurred, even though he admitted he didn't look down.

"I strongly advice you to come even if, like me, you have vertigo. I have to say I haven't felt it at all," he told The Guardian.

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Authorities are hopeful that many visitors will follow.

The 516 Arouca took over two years to construct and was only completed in late 2020, at a cost of about 1.7 million euros (about $2 million USD).

Arouca's mayor, Margarida Belem, said that the hope is the bridge will both attract more tourists to the area and encourage more to stay.

"There were many challenges that we had to overcome, but we did it," the mayor told Reuters. "There's no other bridge like this one in the world."

h/t: The Guardian, Reuters

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