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100 Wonders: The Last Incan Bridge

Made of woven grass and spanning 118 feet, the Q’eswachaka (pronounced with a lateral “click”) or Keshwa Chaca, is the world’s last example of an Incan bridge. This ancient rope suspension bridge, which hangs above the Apurímac River in Quehue, Peru, is still in use today. 

Each year, the bridge is rewoven by residents of four surrounding towns over the course of three days. Working communally, the women braid the small, thin ropes, and the men re-braid those smaller ropes into large support cables. Each household is responsible for 90 feet of rope. This annual custom has been taking place for more than five centuries. 

These handwoven rope bridges were once an integral part of the great Incan road system. Similar to a modern steel suspension bridge, the traditional bridges are remarkably strong. The punishment for tampering with such a bridge was death. However, many of the bridges were destroyed by the Spanish who declared them the devil’s work. Others simply decayed, or were removed, leaving only the Keshwa Chaca.