The Paiva River is approximately 110km long and part of the Natural 2000 Network, being classified as a Community Point of Interest. It rises about 1000m high on the Nave Plateau, Leomil Mountains, Carapito village, Moimenta da Beira’s council, and flows through a steep slope valley, crossing 10 councils and coming to an end at Castelo de Paiva situated on the River Douro’s left bank.
It’s in this wonderful setting of multiple species, habitats and ecosystems that the Paiva Walkways arise. The contest was launched in 2010 by the Arouca Town Council and these walkways meander the River Paiva’s left bank covering a length of 8,7km. This is a walk where you’ll get a combination of an elegant wooden path, suspended footbridges, steep stairs that give you breathtaking views and strategically placed balconies amongst rocks and woods.
This route is surrounded by unique views of cliffs, forest, whitewater descents, quartz crystals and some of Europe’s endangered species. The path connects Areinho’s river beach to Espiunca’s and in between them is Vau’s river beach. Wherever you may be, this is a path of an immense natural beauty surrounded by oaks, ashes, alders, rocks and the river Paiva is always on your side.
The walkways were designed to provide visitors with the best views and to make it possible to reach spots on foot that were previously impossible to approach. Thus they were conceived to ensure a sense of security and balance with nature. All key points were identified from the start, both in terms of views and of their relationship with the cliffs and the river. They present themselves as a single line that travels through the place, emphasizing all the natural and geological richness of this area and always respecting its landscape.
The walkways and staircases are built on a wooden structure supported on the steep slopes of the Paiva River. The suspension bridges allow you to cross from one side to the other with a sense of reality and a different dimension to the existing one.
The entire construction was projected and structured to become a coherent architectural body where all parts are linked to each other. The raw materials that were used were planned to become totally integrated with the landscape and the area’s structural constraints both in terms of its use and of its maintenance. The walkways gain the strength of prominent elements which are creative, modern and balanced. Its simple concept interacts with the existing landscape, bringing new dynamics to the place whilst still respecting the desired function and aim.