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Colombia: Puente de Occidente

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Puente de Occidente | Colombia | Americas

[Visited: April 2009]

The minivan from Santa Fé de Antioquia was descending the road towards the Cauca river, and suddenly I realized that I saw the famous Puente de Occidente, or Bridge of the West, below me. We reached it shortly thereafter, and had to wait for a car to come from the other side. Yes, this bridge is not wide enough for two-way traffic, so cars sometimes have to wait on one side of the bridge. When we drove across the bridge, the driver was evidently proud about it, and did not stop talking about it. The wooden planks on which we were driving, made a funny sound as we crossed to the other side of the Cauca river. I spent my afternoon around Sucre, and since there was no traffic, decided to walk back to the Puente de Occidente from there. While doing so, I had some good viewpoints from the hills looking down on the Cauca river. The white Puente de Occidente was easily recognizable.

Picture of Puente de Occidente (Colombia): Green hills seen through the Puente de Occidente

I came down to the Puente de Occidente again, but now from the other side, and since I was on foot, I had plenty of time to examine the entrance of the bridge, and some of the details and memorial plaques commemorating the engineering achievements of the bridge. One of the striking features of the bridge are the two pairs of pyramidal towers, one pair on each side. From just under their top, thick metal string ensure the stability and force of the bridge. Even though there is only one lane on which traffic can cross, there are two ample walkways on both sides of the bridge, probably indicating the requirements of the late 19th century, when the bridge was constructed by engineer José Manuel Villa.

Picture of Puente de Occidente (Colombia): Statue guarding the Puente de Occidente

The Antioquian engineer who designed the bridge would be proud to know that it still exists and is in operating order, providing an imporant link between the two sides of the Cauca River. He actually collaborated on the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge as well. His masterpiece is, without doubt, the Puente de Occidente, considered a historical bridge and acknowledged as such by being a National Monument. I enjoyed the walk across, as well as the rattling sound of traffic passing on the single traffic lane in the centre of the bridge. The bridge is being maintained, and it looked like it is done so in a good way. When I reached the western side of the bridge, some nice guys selling drinks advised me to climb up to the Madonna statue above me. I was grateful for that, as the view from next to the Madonna was superb: the bridge at my feet, the Cauca river streaming between the green hills on both sides of it, the statue looking down on all this... I stayed a little while to soak in the impressions, but as it was getting dark and I still had to find my way back to Santa Fé, I decided to go down. I was lucky: a pickup truck was willing to take me back.

Picture of Puente de Occidente (Colombia): Pyramidal towers and metal cables
Picture of Puente de Occidente (Colombia): Walkway leading towards the eastern side of the bridge
Picture of Puente de Occidente (Colombia): Suspension bridge seen from above: the Puente de Occidente
Picture of Puente de Occidente (Colombia): The Puente de Occidente seen from the eastern side
Picture of Puente de Occidente (Colombia): Part of the Puente de Occidente suspension bridge seen from above
Picture of Puente de Occidente (Colombia): Western side of the Puente de Occidente
Picture of Puente de Occidente (Colombia): Metal cables attached to the pyramidal towers ensure the strength of the bridge
Picture of Puente de Occidente (Colombia): Traffic on the bridge is never hectic: car and motorcycles crossing
Picture of Puente de Occidente (Colombia): Suspension bridge crossing the Cauca river seen from a distance
Picture of Puente de Occidente (Colombia): Rolling hills rising up from the Cauca river near the Puente de Occidente
Picture of Puente de Occidente (Colombia): Afternoon view over the river Cauca from the Puente de Occidente

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