Because most of Peru’s regions, including Cusco, had fertile soils and an abundance of water, the Incas flourished with their magnificent civilizations.
But how was this possible when the majority of the regions were located in mountainous terrain, with some reaching 5000 meters above sea level? Well, the Incas built many bridges, mostly out of straw, as did the Spanish who colonized Peru in the 1500s.
So, let us take a look at the Inca and Colonial Bridges in Cusco. These bridges played an important role in Peruvian history.
The Q’eswachaka bridge is the Incas’ very last suspension bridge. It is 28 meters long and 1.2 meters wide, and it runs gracefully over the Apurimac River gorge. One of the most remarkable aspects of the Q’eswachaka Bridge is that community members from four groups – Huinchiri, Chaupibanda, Choccayhua, and Ccollana Quehue have been rebuilding it for years.
Every year, people from the four communities come together for a few days to weave this by hand out of straw and other raw materials. When the weaving is finished, the people celebrate it grandly to demonstrate their harmony, communication, and the strength of cultural traditions.
The Inca Bridge of Checacupe was built in the 1400s by locals following orders from the Inca Sapa Wiracocha. The goal of this bridge was to improve the road network between Checacupe and other neighbouring villages. This eventually made trade and transportation of goods easier. This bridge, like the Q’eswachaka Bridge, is made of straw and is regularly renewed by the locals.
The Colonial Bridge of Checacupe, as the name suggests, was built by the Spanish on the orders of King Carlos III of Spain between the 1750s and 1790s. This Colonial Bridge was built to transport coal from Arequipa to Cusco. The design is very different from the Inca Bridges. It has Roman-style arches made of ashlar stone and merged with limestone.
The Republican Bridge of Checacupe is unlike any other bridge in Cusco. It was built in 1895 on the orders of the then-President of the Republic, Ramón Castilla. The Republican Bridge of Checacupe comprises of iron and metal frameworks.
It was originally used to transport coal. However, it is now the primary means by which locals travel to Checacupe from neighbouring areas.
The Carlos Tercero Bridge in Paucartambo creates a quaint atmosphere as it crosses the Mapacho River. In comparison to the Republican Bridge of Checacupe, this bridge has an Ogival arch with a 34-meter length and 5-meter width. It was built under the orders of King of Spain Carlos III in 1775.
The Inca Bridge of Machu Picchu is finished with five-meter-long wooden logs that are held in place by two stone walls. Since the cliffs provided a strategic location, the bridge must have served as a defensive route for the Incas.
In the event of an enemy attack, all they had to do was remove the wooden logs. There was no other way to cross to the other side. While little is known about when it was built, the Inca Bridge is a magnificent structure when its geography is considered.
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