BRIDGING THE CENTURIES
National Geographic Traveller India|March - April 2021
IN PERU, AN INCA SUSPENSION BRIDGE IS REBUILT EACH YEAR, CONNECTING NEIGHBOUR TO NEIGHBOUR—AND PAST TO PRESENT
ABBY SEWELL
ON EITHER SIDE OF A GORGE high in the Peruvian Andes, an aging rope bridge sags precariously over the Apurímac River.

Every spring, communities gather to take part in a ceremony of renewal. Working together from each side of the river, the villagers run a massive cord of rope, more than a hundred feet long and thick as a person’s thigh, across the old bridge. Soon, the worn structure will be cut loose and tumble into the gorge below. Over three days of work, prayer, and celebration, a new bridge will be woven in its place.

The Q’eswachaka bridge has been built and rebuilt continuously for five centuries.

For hundreds of years it was the only link between villages on either side of the river in this region of Peru’s Canas Province—just one of many similar rope suspension bridges built during the Inca Empire, linking the massive territory by way of what is now known as the Great Inca Road. The road spanned nearly 40,230 kilometres and connected previously isolated communities, allowing soldiers, messengers, and ordinary citizens to traverse the empire.

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