Q’eswachaka: The Last Inca Bridge

  • April 19, 2021
  • admin

Three and a half hours from the city of Cusco, in the Quehue district and at an altitude of 3700 meters, is the Q´eswachaka bridge over the Apurímac River, which measures 29 meters long and 1.20 meters wide. Every year, during the second week of June, the communities of Chaupibanda, Choccayhua, Huinchiri and Ccollana Quehue meet for their renewal.

Q’eswachaka, comes from the Quechua letters “Q’ESWA” which means braid and “CHAKA” which means bridge, then translated into Spanish its meaning would be braided bridge.

The ceremony begins with the dismantling of the bridge built the previous year and then dropping the old bases on the river. Then they go out to collect qoya-ichu, straw material that is used for the construction of the bridge. This activity is generally carried out by the women and children of the communities. Once harvested, it is left to dry for a day, to then be beaten with stones and soaked to harden. The ritual of payment to the Apu Quinsallallawi is the final closing of a great day of activities.

During the following days the construction of the bridge begins, the men of the families are in charge of tying the ropes to the old stone bases located on both sides of the gorge. Next, an extensive carpet made of branches is placed to completely cover the floor of the bridge. Once the works are finished and with the structure ready, all the residents gather to inaugurate the bridge for which they do a special ceremony accompanied by good food, with stews that include alpaca and guinea pig, they also dance and sing until nightfall.

Unesco recognized the Bridge Renewal Ceremony as: “Intangible Cultural Heritage” in 2013, because this bridge was part of the extended road network of the Qhapaq Ñan.


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