Posted on 23 Comments

The Braided Bridges of Peru

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How the Incas keep a 500-year tradition of communication and community alive

This year the Q’eswachaka bridge in Peru, a mind-blowing invention of the Inca peoples was rebuilt. This is the work of highly trained and skilled workers that honor their tradition for the greater part of half a century.

The bridge which is traditionally re-braided each year was not repaired last year due to the COVID pandemic. It fell into some disrepair and actually fell down into the river below. This year the urgency to upkeep the traditional was at an all time high.

Once per year, usually in the month of June, the Quechua-speaking peoples gather at the gorge of the Apurimac River located in the Southern Andes.

The Inca people repair the bridge using natural materials they have diligently harvested. Materials such as sticks and some local vegetation usually hemp fibers are used. These hemp fibers are then twisted and woven to form very strong ropes.

The ropes will subsequently be braided into cables which are then raised on each side of the gorge to serve as the ‘bones’ of the bridge.

Dangerous work!

Expert craftsmen will then go to work weaving the many ropes into the new bridge. The craftsmen begin their arduous task by starting from opposite ends and will meet in the middle.

This bridge is a marvel of ingenuity, is made using grass, straw (hemp) and sticks. It spans an impressive expansive 2.3 miles above the river. It is approximately 118 feet long and will be strong enough to support the needs of a bustling community of people and their animals as it had been for greater than 500 years.

Historically the craftspeople will begin learning this craft from an early age. The tradition is passed from generation to generation and embraced with much pride.

Each household from the four surrounding communities will contribute approximately 230 feet of rope to the bridge project. A true labor of love and community spirit.

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Although there is a ‘modern’ bridge nearby, the proud Incas continue to use, upkeep and renew their tradition each year.

The Q’eswachaka bridge, the pride of the Incas.

A labor of love, tradition, community, and honor. And in keeping with the spirit of community, this hard and dangerous work concludes with a merry-making.

23 thoughts on “The Braided Bridges of Peru

  1. How did the they get the bridge from one side of cliffs to the other side? Did they shoot with arrows to other side. I could never imagine stepping on that bridge 😳😱

    1. I know I would not trust crossing on it myself. Not quite sure how they initially got it to the other side, I’d say your thoughts are on point.

      1. I’m just always wondering how did they build this bride get it to other side without more advanced technology. Just shows the human race is resilient, far more capable than we give ourselves credit for, we need to think more like the bridge builder, he or she had a vision and brought it forth to help others. 👀😮 Amazing

    2. me too!!! makes me woozy just to think about it lol great post, gifted50 🙂

      1. Thank you.

  2. Wow something I knew absolutely nothing about. Thank you for sharing this post I find it beyond amazing very very skillful people

    1. It is amazing! Tank you for visiting.

  3. This is an amazing tradition! And awesome history! Thanks Pene for sharing with us!

    1. I found it astounding, imagine the initial planning.
      Be well Ms Renee.

      1. I can’t imagine how rewarding the end result will be! An awesome heritage to pass down to the next generation!
        Thank you! Blessings to you! Happy Friday!

  4. Interesting facts and history

    1. I thought so too, thank you.

      1. 🤔🤗

  5. Wow. Teamwork makes it all easier. It can’t be overemphasized. 💯🙂

    1. Oh yes, a marvel of ingenuity. Teamwork is the way to go.
      Blessings my sister.

  6. Fascinating post, Pene. Thanks for sharing this inspiring story of tradition and cooperation. <3

    1. You are welcome friend!

  7. Wow, I am blown away. How absolutely amazing! Thank you for sharing

    1. Oh and I showed my husband and his response was.. “I would love to walk across that” 😂😱

      1. Lol, I will probably not be that brave.

        1. Me neither 😂😂

  8. Awesome history! Thanks Pene for sharin

  9. […] The Braided Bridges of Peru — JustPene […]

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