Q'eswachaka Bridge: The Last Inca Bridge

The road system known as the Qhapaq Nan was vital to holding the great Inca Empire together,


Rebuilding of Q'eswachaka (or Keswachaka) Bridge. Also spelt Queshuachaca / Queswachaca / Qheswachaka.

The road system known as the Qhapaq Nan was vital to holding the great Inca Empire together, with its spread from Colombia in the north to Chile in the south. With the mountains full of rivers and valleys, in some cases the Incas had to cross these chasms by bridge.

These bridges were made of grass and traditional materials and were only wide enough for one person to cross at any one time. Only one such bridge remains at Q'eswachaka (or Keswachaka) over 100 kilometres from Cusco. The bridge crosses the Apurimac River Canyon (Apurimac in Quechua means" the God who talks").

Like many of these bridges, this one was destroyed in an attempt to halt Pizarro's march toward Cusco. The bridge was reconstructed many years later and the surrounding communities maintain the bridge with great enthusiasm; every June they gather long blades of grass which are woven into six long cables used in the construction of the bridge. The cables are bound as they would have been in Inca times and are secured with large trunks from eucalyptus trees which are buried deeply at either end of the bridge.

The fibres used in its construction deteriorate rapidly however and for this reason it needs to be reconstructed every year. During the Inca Empire there would have been groups of people permanently employed in the maintenance of the bridge. They would also have fought off invasion and monitored who was crossing the bridge. The annual reconstruction of the bridge honours their Inca ancestors and is a good reason to get together and celebrate with neighbouring communities, and about 700 men and women from the communities Huinchiri, Ccollana come to Q'eswachaka to the Festival of the Construction of the Bridge.

Do you want to see the fascinating Q'eswachaka Bridge?

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