Portugal Is Now Home to the Longest Pedestrian Suspension Bridge in the World… Or Is It?

At more than half the length of the Vatican City, Ponte 516 Arouca certainly packs a wallop. But is it the biggest wallop?

Ponte 516 Arouca is being touted as the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world and is set to open to the public on May 3. Residents of the municipality get a sneak preview, being able to cross starting this week.

The bridge is strung above the Paiva River in the district of Aveiro and connects the towns of Canelas and Alvarenga. It is associated with the existing Passadiços do Paiva tourist attraction, which offers over eight kilometers of wooden walkways along the river’s banks. As with many other tourist attractions in Portugal, local residents are given “free” access, after purchasing a 5€ card covering both attractions for three years. Everyone else has to pay up – 12€ full price, 10€ for concessions. No children under six are allowed, which makes sense if you look at the size of this thing. Also, here’s what it feels like to walk on it:

Speaking of which, though, let’s take a look at the size of this thing…

The bridge is 516 meters (1,693 ft) long — hence the name — and 175 meters (574 ft) high. For the Lisboetas who don’t get out of the city much, 516 meters is the equivalent of almost 12 Elevador de Santa Justas stacked end to end. The project is the brainchild of a team associated with the University of Coimbra and came in at €2.3 million.

The 516-meter length knocked the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge (Randa, Switzerland) down to second place, at a mere 494 meters.

However, confusingly, Ponte 516 Arouca is not the longest suspended footbridge in the world, which goes to Baglung Parbat Footbridge in Nepal at 576 meters. The difference? One is a “simple suspension bridge,” the other a “suspension bridge.” In case you’re wondering, Ponte 516 Arouca is the latter.

Could you tell the difference? Unlikely. It still looks fun and is still really big. So big, in fact, that we can compare it to other fun things:

Ponte 516 Arouca is:

  • almost three times longer than the first-ever “modern suspension bridge”.
  • more than half the length of the Vatican City. (Pope walk, anyone?)
  • almost half the length of Avenida da Liberdade.
  • roughly the same distance as between Cais do Sodre and Bairro Alto, meaning that while stumbling drunkenly along the length of Ponte 516 Arouca is certainly not advised, it’ll take you roughly the same amount of time, give or take.

Oh, and here’s Baglung Parbat Footbridge:

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