World’s longest suspension bridge opens in the Czech Republic
The longest suspension bridge in the world is opening up in the Czech Republic this Friday. At 721 metres in length, the bridge is nearly a third longer than the previous title holder and offers magnificent views of the surrounding mountain range that lies on the border between Czechia and Poland.
Skybridge 721 is not just really long, but also very high. The brave adventurer who chooses to make the three-quarter-of-a-kilometre-long journey across the mountain valley enters onto the bridge at an altitude of 1,125 meters above sea level and exits at a height of 1,135 metres. The lowest point is 95 metres.
The Skybridge supersedes the previous title holder for the world’s longest bridge, Portugal’s Arouca 516, by 205 metres. On some days, when the mountain mist lies low, you almost feel as if you’re walking above the clouds, surrounded only by forested mountain peaks.
The Skybridge is part of the Dolní Morava Mountain Resort, a popular destination for skiers and nature lovers which also houses the Czech Republic’s longest mountain bobsleigh track as well as the biggest mammoth model in the world.
The resort’s marketing director, Tomáš Drápal, told Czech Radio that the sheer size of the structure made its construction a challenge by itself.
“There were dozens of security measures and technical anomalies that had to be taken into account when setting up the bridge. We had to install the pylons deep into the hardest mountain rock.
“Acquiring the cables that suspend the bridge was also a challenge. No one makes ropes that long here. We had to import them from Italy and this was during the coronavirus pandemic, so it meant dealing with all sorts of legal and logistical barriers.”
Giant 11-metre-high pylons keep the edges of the bridge firmly rooted into the mountains above the valley, anchoring the 7-centimetre-thick steel ropes that form the backbone of the suspension mechanism.
The construction team used heavy machinery and drones to build the 400-ton-structure, which the owners say is resistant to high-speed winds, frost and other potential hazards. A protective mesh fence serves as the guardrail, although local staff warn that it may not be the best idea to carry a child on one’s shoulders while crossing the Skybridge.
The resort is a child’s paradise, but also a cause of much discontent for some of the locals, who fear that the new bridge may attract too many visitors to an area that already gets between 700,000 to 800,000 tourists a year.
It has happened before. Six years ago, when the centre opened its 55-metre-high “Cloud route” (Stezka v oblacích), the nearby Dolní Morava village was overwhelmed by cars and tourists looking to experience the new attraction.
250 new parking spaces have since been created and local mayor Richard Novák told news site iDnes.cz that he has asked for a police patrol to make sure that parking rules are followed.
Those who want to experience the Skybridge will find that it is part of the resort’s “Time bridge” (Most času) educational route which passes through an interwar-era fort, tracking the local area’s history from 1938 to the present. Organisers say that the path also includes an interactive game, unlockable via smartphone, which turns the journey into an adventure.