TATEV, Armenia — Armenia on Saturday launched the world’s longest cable car line, a 5.7-kilometre (3.5-mile) engineering feat that spans a spectacular gorge to the country’s ancient Tatev monastery.
The tramway across the Vorotan River gorge in the country’s south is longer than the 4.5-kilometer (2.7-mile) Sandia Peak Tramway at the eastern edge of Albuquerque, New Mexico, known as the world’s longest passenger tramway.
The line, named Wings of Tatev, will allow year-round access to Armenia’s ninth-century Tatev monastery complex, one of the country’s most important religious centres and a major tourist attraction.
The reversible cable car line cost 18 million dollars (13 million euros) with much of the funding coming from private donations, according to the National Competitiveness Foundation of Armenia, which oversaw the project.
It runs from the village of Halidzor near a highway connecting the Armenian capital Yerevan to the village of Tatev, within walking distance of the monastery.
The cable car travels at a speed of 37 kilometres per hour (23 miles per hour) and a one-way journey takes 11 minutes. At its highest point over the gorge, the car travels 320 metres (1,056 feet) above ground level.
It has two cabins, each capable of carrying up to 25 passengers. Local residents will be able to ride the cable car for free while others will have to pay 3,000 Armenian drams (eight dollars/six euros.)
Residents said they hoped the new link would help restore the economy of the local area, which like much of rural Armenia has suffered from deep poverty and an exodus of young people looking elsewhere for work.
The cable car is part of a 50-million-dollar (36-million-euro) public-private effort to develop tourism at Tatev and in the surrounding region, one of the traditional 15 provinces of the ancient Kingdom of Armenia.
The project has also seen the government renovate 26 kilometres (16 miles) of the highway from Yerevan to Tatev and the restoration of parts of the monastery complex.

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