by Livia Gershon/Smithsonianmag.com
At nearly a third of a mile long, a newly opened, record-breaking suspension bridge in the town of Arouca, Portugal, demands a bit of a head for heights. As Reuters’ Catarina Demony reports, the bridge, which hangs 570 feet above the Paiva River, consists of a see-through metal grid that wobbles with each step.
“I was a little afraid, but it was so worth it,” Hugo Xavier, a local resident who was allowed to cross the bridge last week ahead of its official opening, tells Reuters. “It was extraordinary, a unique experience, an adrenaline rush.”
Dubbed the “516 Arouca” for its length in meters, the bridge cost $2.8 million and took about two years to complete. Local officials hope it will entice visitors to the region, attracting new investment and encouraging individuals to settle down in the area.
The 516 Arouca is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world, overtaking Switzerland’s 1,621-foot Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge by about 70 feet, reports Rachel Treisman for NPR. The longest comparable bridge in the United States is Tennessee’s Gatlinburg Sky Bridge, which stretches a comparatively modest 680 feet across a valley in the Great Smoky Mountains.