archaeological site of pisac


Pisac is an archaeological center that does not escape the famous Inca legends. The Inca city presents a very particular image: it is said that the chief Huayllapuma had a daughter, called Inquill, whom he had to marry to the man who could build, in just one night, the bridge over the Willcamayu River – Currently “Vilcanota ” or “Urubamba”- (a bridge of great importance for the defense of the place). Despite the hard task, Asto Rímac, a handsome prince, decided to accept the challenge and ask for the hand of the princess. The local authorities arranged everything so that Asto Rímac began the work, while the princess had to climb a hill without turning around; because otherwise she and her fiancé would turn to stone. Almost at dawn, the prince had finished with the work, but Inquill, unable to bear it anymore, turned around and remained turned to stone to this day.


Pisac is a sample of Inca architecture at its best, as well as the impressive works of engineering, hydraulics and development in agricultural terraces. Strategically built in a rather difficult place perched on the crest of a hill, it masterfully integrates an overwhelming Andean landscape.
But Pisac is not only an archaeological center. The colonial town is a living testimony of tradition and miscegenation, in which the inhabitants carry out different celebrations decked out in their typical costumes. The Pisac market is a festival of color and art, in which its works are delicately detailed in complicated geometric figures and the skill of its crafts show a close bond between this Andean town and its cultural landscape.


Pisac or Pisaq is located in the province of Calca, 30 km east of Cusco. The most widespread version about the origin of its name is that it derives from the Quechua p’isaqa, the name of a chicken very similar to the Andean partridge that is common in the place. There are those who maintain that the city has the shape of a partridge, based on the Inca custom of looking for animal references in the urban traces of their cities or in the shape of the rocks.
In the lower part, at the level of the river (2,950 m altitude), is the colonial town of Pisac (1570), with a rectangular layout, with a central plaza. The town is famous for its handicrafts and for the fairs that take place three times a week. In the area, the community members still carry out commercial exchanges without coins in the pre-Hispanic style.
9 km from the town, going up a winding road, you reach the archaeological complex of Pisac (approximately 1,440), at an altitude of 3,250 m, and from there the views of the valley are impressive. This location demonstrates the Inca custom of building towns in the upper parts of the mountains, leaving the fertile lands of the valleys free for agriculture.


The climate in Pisac is temperate and varies according to the seasons of the year (rainy and dry), its average temperature is 10°, 18° C on cloudy or rainy days, and on hot days it ranges between 20°, 25°


There are two ways to get from Cusco to Pisac. The fastest and most comfortable route is to take a bus, which will take approximately 40 – 45 minutes from Cusco to Pisac. The second alternative is Cusco – San Salvador – Pisac is a longer route that goes through the southern part of Cusco that will take you 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 25 minutes.

The Archaeological Center of Pisac

The archaeological center of Pisac includes houses, aqueducts, roads, bridges, towers, barracks, a cemetery, ceremonial centers and a large sector of platforms. Pisac is also known for a large number of towers or viewpoints (approximately 20) that are located at various points in the complex.
Many of these works show great quality in stonework, with a fine finish and extraordinary precision in the joints.
Details of the work in which the pink granite has been cut and placed with absolute precision and in some cases seem to merge with the rocks of the mountains
Dispersed in various parts of the hill, Pisac is made up of sectors:
1.- Amaru Punku: or “Snake Gate” marks the entrance to the complex. The typical trapezoidal door is remarkable, as well as the enormous stone hinges, which would have served to support a large gate. From there a narrow path leads to the main part of the complex.
2.- Q’alla Q’asa: (q’alla – cut, q’asa – pass) and that owes its name to a tunnel excavated in the rock that connects with the upper part of the hill.
It consists of about thirty buildings that comprise the residential area of ​​the sentinels in Pisac, built following a technique called pirka, which is a stone wall joined by adobe. Its location next to the cliff accounts for the extraordinary Inca engineering.
Ceremonial Area, where the remains of the Intihuatana or solar observatory are found, unfortunately damaged by Spanish conquerors in their eagerness to suppress pagan practices among the indigenous population.
3.- Intihuatana: means “mooring the sun”, and probably served functions similar to that of Machu Picchu.
The temple of the sun is embedded around a circular rock, underlining the concept that the mountains had a sacred character.
A circular wall with a fine finish is located in this sector, denoting the importance it had with respect to the whole complex.
4.- The chakana: A cross-shaped symbol, that symbolizes the three worlds of the Inca cosmogony: the Hanan Pacha or world above, the Kay Pacha or world here, and the Uku Pacha or the world below. Representative animals of these worlds were the condor, the puma, and the snake, respectively.
5.- Tianayoc: located at the top of the Intihuatana, whose enclosures are distributed around a plaza, and were probably an administrative area. Here is a rock carved in the shape of a seat.
6.- P’isaqa: also called “the old neighborhood”, it is a housing group that is located next to the ceremonial area and has semicircular platforms. Note that the finish of the stonework is pirca type, that is, stones joined with adobe, as were the majority of Inca constructions. Polished stone was used only for elite buildings.
7.- Tantana marka: the largest Inca cemetery, with more than 1,000 tombs, unfortunately, looted, but it is estimated that there may have been up to 10,000.

Some recommendations

  • Acclimatize days before the excursion.
  • Always carry your passport.
  • Wear light clothing, although at night you will need a jacket to keep you warm.
  • Wear suitable footwear.
  • Stay hydrated, drink plenty of mineral water.
  • Bring sunscreen.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat or cap.
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