TATEV, Armenia – Armenia on Saturday opened a $45-million aerial tramway that it claims is the world's longest, beating out a rival in New Mexico.
The tramway across the Vorotan River gorge in the country's south spans 5.7 kilometers (3.5 miles), Armenian officials said, longer than the 4.5-kilometer (2.7-mile) Sandia Peak Tramway at the eastern edge of Albuquerque, known as the world's longest passenger tramway.
The country's president and other officials attended a ceremony opening the tramway, which links the highway from Armenia's capital of Yerevan with the 9th-century Tatev Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage candidate and one of Armenia's oldest and most prominent monasteries.
The line, named Wings of Tatev, took nearly a year and $45 million to build. At least $28 million was donated by prominent Russia businessman Ruben Vardanian, who was born in Armenia.
Although Armenian authorities said that they will apply to Guinness World Records to officially confirm that the tramway is the world's longest, they say it was primarily built for practical use.
"By building this road we did not mean to take anyone by surprise," said President Serge Sarkisian, who earlier took an 11-minute ride on the tramway. The link has been designed to help local residents and boost the area's tourism potential, he said.