With each step, the metal lattice of Ponte 516 Arouca wobbles slightly. Most suspension bridges do this to some degree, but it’s especially unnerving on the newly-opened bridge, which hangs 175 meters (574 feet) above a fast-flowing river. At 516 meters (1,692 feet) long, Ponte 516 Arouca has claimed the title for the longest bridge of its kind in the world.
The bridge is located within Portugal’s Arouca Geopark, where tall mountains and narrow river valleys define the landscape. Ponte 516 Arouca spans the Paiva River, connecting the escarpment of the Aguieiras Waterfall and the Paiva Gorge.
This feat of modern engineering took inspiration from past designs, including bridges built by the Incas that once spanned the valleys of the Andes Mountains. Steel cables run along the length of the bridge, which is anchored by two massive V-shaped towers standing at either end. The walking path and side railings are made of metal grids. In addition to offering unobstructed views of the surrounding mountains and the river below, these grids make the structure more stable in heavy winds.
After three years of construction, Ponte 516 Arouca was completed in July 2020. It opened to the public in May 2021. Its length makes it the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge, a record previously held by the 494-meter (1,621-foot) Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge in Switzerland.
Walking across the bridge reportedly takes about 10 minutes. While crossing you can see other sites within Arouca Geopark, including Aguieiras Waterfall, the Paiva Walkways, Alvarenga Bridge and Paiva Gorge. Elsewhere in the park you can see archaeological sites like Neolithic graves and Roman ruins or take part in adventure sports like rafting, kayaking, and mountain biking.
Know Before You Go
Ponte 516 Arouca is open year round, except on Christmas Day and when weather conditions require it to close to visitors.
Book in advance, as access to the bridge is restricted to visitants with tickets. Tickets cost €12 for adults and €10 for students, children, and seniors. Children under 6 years old are not allowed. Further information is available on the Ponte 516 Arouca website.