Without a doubt, the Incas were one of the best civilizations in ancient times; that surprises hundreds of visitors who come to the city of Cusco. Since they left us various samples of their great knowledge in architecture and fascinating works that will surprise you. A sample of this great ingenuity is Q’eswachaca the last Inca bridge.
The name Q’eswachaka comes from two Quecha words “Q’ESWA” which means Braid and “CHAKA” which means Bridge; which together means twisted bridge.
Q’eswachaka is a suspension bridge that crosses the Apurímac River in a part canyoned at approximately 3700 meters above sea level; in the province of Canas in the district of Quehue about 160 kilometers south of the department of Cuzco. It was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2013. The Q’eswachaka bridge was part of the vast network of roads established more than five centuries ago by the Incas in a territory of more than two million square kilometers, which extended from what is now Colombia to what is now Chile and Argentina. In addition to everything mentioned above, the Q’eswachaka bridge is very special; since it is built with an ancient technique that remains alive to this day. It is the last Inca bridge in use with at least 6 centuries old.
The material used for this suspension bridge is q’oya ichu, a type of straw that grows in the highest areas of the Andes. Every year the inhabitants of the peasant communities of Huinchiri, Chaupibanda, Qollana Quehue and Chocayhua; They meet to renovate the structure of the old bridge. The renovation of the bridge implies the realization of a ritual and a festivity that lasts around four days; beginning with the payment to the Apu Quinsallallawi in an ancestral ceremony.
During this date making use of the Inca knowledge; the villagers gather the new material, dismantle the old bridge and begin to assemble the replacement. On the third day, the residents begin the assembly of the handrail and the surface of the bridge. After having finished the work, a great celebration begins where the inhabitants carry out a festival of native dances in party mode. Finally, after having finished the replacement of the bridge, everyone inaugurates it by crossing it.
The Q’eswachaka measures 28 meters long and 1.20 meters wide, being built to this day with ichu. This bridge served as part of the Qhapaq Ñan road system, having approximately more than 500 years. The tradition and customs are still present, accompanied by the rituals for its realization. The Q’eswachaka is the last bridge that has survived modernity and continues to pass its ritual from generation to generation.
The inhabitants of the communities that participate in this great work; They consider that this common work is not only a means to keep this important communication channel in good condition, but it is also a way to strengthen the social ties that exist between them. For this, a 4-day ritual is followed where they will share their experiences and wisdom in this noble art.
The ancestral ritual is developed following this program:
This day begins with the offering that is paid to the tutelary apu Quinsallallawi. But before, the inhabitants of the four communities have already collected the main input for the construction of the bridge; the “q’oya ichu”. The Andean woman actively participates in the collection of this material, who is in charge of weaving the first rope or qeswa that is delivered by each community member who attends this great work and thus obtain the handrails and the duros, which is how the ropes are called. thicker ropes that serve as a base for the bridge floor. In the afternoon, the men form two groups, and meet above both sides of the bridge and extend the ropes or queswas from end to end, which are braided by the chakaruhac (Inca engineer) to assemble the qeswaska or larger braid.
This day begins by untying the old ropes that are tied to some stone nails, to which the new braids will be tied again and letting the old bridge fall into the river. Once finished, they will begin to throw the ropes from one end to the other.
The braiding of the ropes takes time, as does the tying of the cables; finally the four thick or hard ropes that serve as the base and the two railings or handrails are placed all under the direction of the chakaruhac (Inca engineer).
This day concludes with the assembly of the handrails and the surface of the bridge, the chakaruhac (Inca engineer) is in charge of weaving the bridge from one end to the other and it is a tradition and technique that passes from family to family. Once finished, it begins with the inauguration of the bridge to the sound of music and typical dances of the area.
It is the date of celebration. This day a beautiful dance festival is helds autochthonous by the inhabitants of the four Quechua communities.
Undoubtedly, the Incas knew how to leave us wonders throughout the national territory, so this bridge is a splendid work of engineering and art that to date has not been abandoned thanks to our brothers from the peasant communities of Huinchiri, Chaupibanda, Qollana Quehue and Chocayhua share this ancestral tradition with us and today you can visit, so do not hesitate to contact CUSCO PERU TRIPS , a travel agency committed to offering you an experience you will not forget.
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