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Portugal: Another Bridge to Vertigo


Portugal has a new entry in what seems to be the competition of the millenium to build the longest, scariest pedestrian bridge in the world, with the opening last weekend of a new entrant.

The 1692-foot or 516-metre bridge, named Arouca 516 after its hometown and length, spans the valley of the Pavia River, 176 meters below. Construction took three years; its purpose is wholly touristic, designed to attract visitors who will pay €10 for the privilege of looking down and trying not to be dizzy.

Competition among these bridges is fought out on a number of fronts. This one's claim is on length; it is 71 feet longer than the Charles Kuonen Bridge in Switzerland. China's recent entrant in the race, the Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge, is significantly shorter, but it has a glass-bottomed walkway and an 853-foot drop to the bottom—complete with an opportunity to bungee-jump from the bridge.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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Recent news shows that the apparent danger of some of the spectacular bridges is not all in our minds: parts of a Chinese glass-bottomed bridge at Longjing shattered in high winds last week, leaving at least one tourist trapped until he was able to crawl to safety with the aid of firefighters and other emergency workers.

Image at left shows the bridge before damage; at right, with floor panes missing, the trapped tourist can be seen before rescue.


The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations


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