Puente de Occidente (Bridge of the West) – Olaya, Colombia - Atlas Obscura

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Puente de Occidente (Bridge of the West)

Olaya, Colombia

What was once the longest suspension bridge in Latin America was directly inspired by the iconic Brooklyn Bridge.  


On December 27, 1895, and after eights years of construction, the Bridge of the West became the longest suspension bridge in all of Latin America and the third in the world.

The bridge, which was named after its location on the western side of Colombia, was designed by architect José María Villa, who had previously worked on the Brooklyn Bridge. He used that previous experience to design and construct this bridge, adjusting it to the local conditions. This can be noted on the cable-stayed-suspension hybrid structural system and the wooden pedestrian passageways, which were employed in both structures.

The construction of this structure spearheaded an industrial revolution in the nation. Before there was a bridge on this part of the Cauca River, the only other method to get around the waterway was by finding a narrow passageway farther south. The bridge facilitated the connection between the interior of Colombia and the Caribbean Sea, and therefore became an essential player in developing the country’s economy. 

Today, the bridge remains in use and is a local attraction due to its importance for the development of the Antioquia region, which grants it a symbolic reference for the strength and unity for the people who inhabit the area. 

Know Before You Go

The bridge is located between the towns of Santa Fe de Antioquia and Olaya on the Cauca River.

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