Cusco Sites: An Overview (Part 2)

In the event you are not starting with the first post in this series, I thought I would do a series on the local archeological sites and to start things off I figured an overview would be good. So the following are brief descriptions of many of the archeological sites in the Cusco region, some regularly visited and some that are seldom visited. In this overview you will find the sites listed in alphabetical order (starting with post one) and each listing will include a brief description original name and translation if known, and location and altitude as well as a few other items when available or known.

Moray

Moray

Moray
GPS – Latitude: -13.32998447 Longitude: -72.19485015
Altitude: 3500 m
Name translation: Original name Muray
Approximate Date: Unknown
Attributed Inka: Unknown
Description: The Inca laboratory as it is also known, this is an unusual site as it is the only one that I am familiar with that that has circular terraces, you may find curved terraces at some sites but I have never seen full circles. While there seems to be many theories as to what purpose this site served for the Incas, one thing is certain, in testing of soil temperatures on the terraces they have recorded differences of up to 15o C (27o F) in temperature between the lowest and highest terrace.

Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo Ruins
GPS – Latitude: -13.25711949 Longitude: -72.26719469
Altitude: 2880 m
Name translation: Unknown
Approximate Date: 1438 – 1471
Attributed Inka: Pachacuti (Pachacútec)
Description: These ruins sit on a hill side overlooking the town of Ollantaytambo and according to at least one report, Ollantaytambo was the site of an Incan version of the tale of Romeo and Juliet. Two of the notable things at this site are the large storage buildings or Calcas that are on the opposite side of the valley as well as the difference in construction of this sites Sun Temple when compared to those at some of the other sites.

Pikillacta

Pikillacta

Pikillacta
GPS – Latitude: -13.61414893 Longitude: -71.71777099
Altitude: 3170 m
Name translation: Original Pikillaqta “flea place”
Approximate Date: 550 – 1100
Attributed Inka: This site is not Inca but Pre-Inka and was built by the Wari culture.
Description: This pre-Inca site built by the Wari is one of the largest Wari sites still standing (well almost standing) and is located in the Southern Valley, which is actually to the East of Cusco. I have read several theories as to what purpose this site served, and as of yet I don’t have an opinion of my own, but whatever the purpose, this was a large site. Two of the things I find interesting with this site are the number and type of walls, most of the site was protested by 2 walls, an exterior single wall and an interior double wall. The second thing is the buildings that have been excavated, there are about 6 buildings that have been either fully or partially excavated and in these you can see original plaster floors and walls, with one building actually having a set of original plastered steps that would have gone up to a second floor.

Pisac

Pisac

Pisac Ruins
GPS – Latitude: -13.40739349 Longitude: -71.84414327
Altitude: 3430 m
Name translation: Original name Pisaq
Approximate Date: 1438 – 1471
Attributed Inka: Pachacuti (Pachacútec)
Description: Like the Ollantaytambo ruins, the Pisac ruins sit above the city that shares their name, this site can either be reached by vehicle or by hiking up from the city of Pisac itself. The trail up from Pisac can be found at the top (East end) of Pisac, and while some people will hike up and then back down, others will hire a taxi to drop them off at the top and then will walk back down. For those on a tour or trying to cover more ground, traveling both ways by vehicle is the best option. A main point of interest at this site is the burial tombs that scatter the side of the cliff opposite the ruins, and that were unfortunately raided by tomb robbers.

Puca Pucara

Puca Pucara

Puca Pucara
GPS – Latitude: -13.4832048 Longitude: -71.96201026
Altitude: 3760 m
Name translation: Original spelling Puka Pukara “red fortress”
Approximate Date: Unknown
Attributed Inka: Unknown
Description: One of the smaller and in my opinion, far less impressive of the sites, Pucapucara sits above Cusco about 15 to 20 minutes further up the road than Q’enqo, this site is mainly terraces sitting on a small hill and offers nothing different or of note in my opinion.

Qenqo

Qenqo

Qenqo
GPS – Latitude: -13.50871636 Longitude: -71.97038546
Altitude: 3600 m
Name translation: Q’inqu – labyrinth or zig-zag
Approximate Date: Unknown
Attributed Inka: Unknown
Description: This site is located a short walk to the East from Saqsaywaman and if it wasn’t for the sacrificial alter that is houses, I would say it is another site that offers nothing of interest. This site is basically a large chunk of stone with some cracks and caves, but within one of these caves is a large alter where it is believes sacrifices and or mummifications would take place, although there is no longer access to see it, the top of this giant stone is carved with many flattened areas as well as a zig zagging channel.

Qorikancha

Qorikancha

Qorikancha or Coricancha
GPS – Latitude: -13.52017304 Longitude: -71.97517321
Altitude: 3390 m
Name translation: Original name Inti Kancha or Inti Wasi “sun house”
Approximate Date: 1438 – 1471
Attributed Inka: Pachacuti (Pachacútec)
Description: Qorikancha is believed to have been the center of the Inca’s spiritual world with all the energy lines throughout the region converging here. On the top of the terraces originally sat a complex of buildings with the Sun Temple being one of the most important of these. Based on Spanish accounts the stones of the Sun Temple may have been originally covered in gold and the courtyard filled with gold statues, which of course was long ago stripped, and while you cannot see the Sun Temple from the front, you can enter the church that was built on the top of the site and visit some of the remaining Inca structures including the Sun Temple.

Please continue to part three for the final segment of the list.

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About Lyle

I love travel and currently own and operate a Bed and Breakfast called GringoWasi with my beautiful Peruvian wife, the property is located in the small town of Huarocondo, and about 30 minutes West of Cusco Peru.
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