Inca rope bridges were simple suspension bridges over canyons and gorges and rivers to provide access for the Inca Empire. Bridges of this type were useful since the Inca people did not use wheeled transport traffic was limited to pedestrians and livestock. The bridges were an integral part on the Inca road system and are an example of Inca innovation in engineering. They were frequently used by messengers delivering messages throughout the Inca Empire. The Q’eswachaka suspension bridge of Peru is considered to be the last remaining Inca Bridge.
The skills and rituals related to the annual renewal of Peru’s famed Q’eswachaka suspension bridge were added to the intangible cultural heritage list of the UNESCO. The Q’eswachaka bridge located over the Apurimac River about 11,811 feet above sea level in the province of Canas – is renewed annually in the month of June. It is a rope bridge that needs to be renewed every year.
The renewal of the Q’eswachaka suspension bridge over the Apurimac River is annually carried out by the families of the Quechua-speaking peasant communities of Huinchiri, Chaupibanda, Choccayhua and Ccollana Quehue, which together make up a rural district called Quehue.
The peasants use traditional Inca techniques and materials. The three day process of renewing the bridge involves repeatedly braiding straw into thick ropes, which are then woven together to form the bridge. The process structures the life of the participating communities, strengthens centuries-old bonds and reaffirms their cultural identity. When the bridge is finished, the communities hold a celebratory festival.