Hugo Xavier became one of the first people to cross the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge when it opened on Thursday near his tiny hometown of Arouca in northern Portugal. The record-breaking bridge measures 516 meters (or roughly 1,692 feet) long and is suspended above a river. It’s in the town of Arouca — about an hour south of Porto — in the UNESCO-recognized Arouca Geopark, an area famous for its nature tourism and outdoor activities.
Hidden between rock-strewn mountains covered with lush greenery and yellow flowers inside the Arouca Geopark, the bridge hangs 175 meters above the fast-flowing River Paiva. The landscape is calm, but the crossing is not for the faint-hearted. “The new bridge, under construction since May 2018, is inspired by the Inca bridges that spanned the Andes mountain valleys,” a release says. Last year, the municipality of Arouca described the bridge as ‘frighteningly beautiful. The bridge connects the banks of the Paiva River, a popular destination for kayaking and whitewater rafting. It’s also near the Paiva Walkways, a wooden pathway that winds through 8 kilometers (5 miles) of the natural landscape. The bridge opened only to local residents on Thursday, but from Monday everyone can book a visit.
Locals hope the attraction, which cost about 2.3 million euros ($2.8 million) and took around two years to build, will help revive the region, especially after the devastating COVID-19 pandemic.