Architecture firm TAROS NOVA has pulled off an impressive feat in the Czech Republic: the construction of the world’s longest suspension skywalk. Located at the Dolní Morava Mountain Resort in Horsky, Sky Bridge 721 spans an incredible 721 meters (about 2,365 feet) between two peaks of the Kralicky Snezník mountain. At its highest point, it’s a dizzying 95 meters (311 feet) above the ground of the valley below. It took two years to complete this complex engineering project, but the bridge opened to the public this spring, drawing crowds of visitors eager to test their ability to withstand stomach-turning heights.
The design of the bridge looks deceptively simple. It’s made of metal, with a solid surface to step on and chain link mesh on either side for safety. But figuring out exactly how to support it took some experimentation. “It was a long-distance run with occasional sprints from initial design, through design to completion of construction,” say the architects. “Professionalism, precision, and hard work [are at] the top of the list. How else to describe the more than 100 bridge variants, the countless structural analyses and calculations, the demanding coordination of design, production, logistics, and finally the construction itself.”
To access the bridge, visitors either take the ski resort’s chairlift to the entrance, or they can walk or bike all the way up the nearly 2.5-mile-long trail. Though it takes longer to cross, the experience of braving the Sky Bridge 721 is at least slightly less scary than that of China’s Hongyagu Scenic Area, which spans 1,601 feet and features a walkway made of glass panels. China has at least 60 such glass bridges, in fact (some of which have been known to crack on occasion).
Sky Bridge 721 overthrew the previous record-holder for the official title of “World’s Longest Suspension Bridge,” the 516 Arouca Bridge in Portugal. The runners-up include the Kokonoe Yume Bridge in Japan (1,280 feet) and the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge in Switzerland (1,621 feet).
Sky Bridge 721 adds yet another reason to visit the Dolní Morava resort, whether you’re actually staying there or not. Previously, the area’s biggest draw was the Sky Walk Dolní Morava, a unique wooden structure spiraling from ground level to a height of 180 feet. Pedestrians climb the Sky Walk for beautiful views of the mountains as well as the valley of the River Morava. In the summertime, everything is lush and green. In winter, it’s shrouded in white, and most visitors also take advantage of spectacular skiing, bobsledding, and other snow-oriented activities.
The Sky Bridge and Sky Walk are also part of the “Bridge of Time,” an educational trail and game created as a collaboration between LESY ČR (Forests of the Czech Republic), the municipality of Dolní Morava, and the Museum of Czechoslovak Fortifications from 1935 to 1938. The Bridge of Time includes augmented reality elements and 10 educational panels, engaging visitors with both history and topics of environmental protection.
“An integral part of the game is the light fortification object at the beginning of the game (the so-called digger, “řopík”), from which you continue along a 2-kilometer-long marked route with educational panels,” the architects explain. “In order to complete the game, it is necessary to own a now-common smartphone and have access to the internet. Educational panels with tasks are arranged thematically and in time so that after nearly an hour’s easy walk along the marked trails, each visitor is brought back to the present. That is, to the starting point at the Slaměnka Hut.”