4 important and historic bridges in Arequipa

Arequipa was founded on August 15, 1540, since then it has not ceased to amaze due to the different constructions it has housed since colonial times, where you can find a large number of temples based on ashlar. Important material for a great variety of constructions in this Peruvian region, as an example we can appreciate a traditional neighborhood, decorations based on ashlar and two of the bridges that this time bring us here.

Puente Arequipa
Bridges of the city of Arequipa

1. Bolognesi Bridge

Bolognesi bridge
Bolognesi Bridge – Arequipa

Formerly known as Puente Real and/or Puente Viejo. It is a bridge located very close to the Main Square of Arequipa. This bridge served to cross the river best known to the people of Arequipa, the Chili River. It is said that before this bridge there was one probably based on ichu or straw. The Bolognesi bridge is one of the first constructions that were made to unify the city that is crossed by the aforementioned river. Its construction began in 1577. The work was entrusted to the architect Juan de Aldana. Construction lasted until the early 1600s.

The Bolognesi Bridge is made entirely of ashlar, a stone that is considered a symbol for the city. It is composed of several arches that serve as a support and at the same time as a free passage to the mighty Chili. This river increases its flow during the rainy season or the first months of each year, dates when the rain is usually torrential and falls more frequently.

2. Fierro Bridge

Fierro Bridge
Fierro Bridge – Arequipa

If we continue talking about antiquity, this bridge could be considered the second oldest. Its construction date dates back to 1870. The initial construction of this large bridge was to allow the passage of the train. Initially, it had a railway line for this trade. This bridge would serve to cross the Chili River, by train, from the Arequipa side, which would then continue on its way to Puno.

The Fierro Bridge was a symbol of pride for a long time and probably still is for the oldest Arequipeños. This construction was part of an entire railway network during the time of the guano heyday. Its construction involved the use of current technology and a strong investment.

For some inhabitants of the region this bridge was built under the supervision of Gustave Eiffel, although much of its architecture coincides with the construction of the Parisian tower, it is unlikely that he was the direct creator. However, it can be ensured that they took the tower of Paris as a model and as a theoretical and technical base.

In 1920 it stopped working as a rail for trans-Andean trains and was used as a road and pedestrian bridge, obtaining a first foundation in 1960 to facilitate the transfer of motorized vehicles. However, currently it only works as a pedestrian or bicycle bridge. The entry of any motorized vehicle is strictly prohibited.

3. Grau Bridge

Puente Grau
Grau Bridge – Arequipa

It is the third oldest bridge. It is located in the historic center of the white city. It is large in size and its construction required a large investment and some difficulties. This bridge was built in order to achieve a better way to cross the Chili River. However, during its construction it was almost discarded due to the difficulty involved in creating the arches and later unifying the access to the bridge on both sides. In 1888 it was concluded with a great ceremony. It was precisely on December 15 of that year, the date on which it was decreed as “Free traffic”.

The Grau bridge is made of ashlar stone and has fine finishes in carved stone and also the presence of balconies made up of carved stone. It is a bridge that underwent several modifications until it reached how we see it today. From its balconies you can see part of the Arequipa countryside and especially the majestic Misti. Currently it also serves as a bypass to avoid the density and accumulation of cars. This bridge continues to function since its creation despite the fact that it already needs some parts.

4. Chilina Bridge

Puente Chilina
Chilina Bridge – Arequipa

Its real name is Mariano Melgar Valdivieso Bridge, it is a recently inaugurated construction in 2014. It has a length of 562 meters. It serves to communicate the districts of Cayma and Selva Alegre. It has the peculiarity of withstanding a magnitude 9 earthquake and is also quite wide, having the capacity of 3 lanes. This bridge is supported by four pillars.

Its construction required different specialists, for different reasons. One of them was that it was necessary for the bridge, in its design, not to alter the cultural heritage both in construction and in the visual spectrum. Different tests of its foundation and structure were carried out. Obtaining in this way an aesthetic quality that can be appreciated in the morning and also at night, due to the functional lighting that artistically highlights its architectural characteristics. All of the above does not alter its functionality or the cultural heritage around it.

Currently, different campaigns are being promoted to prevent the increase in the number of suicides that have occurred on this bridge. Therefore, the meshing of it is also requested. Until now (2022), 94 suicides have been registered since 2016.


By Machupicchu Terra – Last updated, October 18, 2022

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