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Eight Inca Sites That Have to Be Seen in South America

Eight Inca Sites That Have to Be Seen in South America
November 17
08:00 2015

 

As the most successful and largest empire in pre-Columbian South America, the Inca at one point controlled an area that covered much of modern Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and Colombia from their administrative centre in Cuzco, Peru. Their roads criss-crossed large parts of the continent to help supply the different outposts of the empire, while they spread their worship of the sun god Inti across the region. Today people are most familiar with the remarkable architecture of sites such as Machu Picchu more than the warriors and the infrastructure of the Inca, but these ruins are an amazing insight into the culture.

1. Machu Picchu

The hilltop site in the Peruvian Andes is one of the most famous historical sites in the world, and the well preserved terraces and restored buildings surrounded by steep green slopes make for an impressive site. The complex was built for an Inca emperor, but after the conquistadors conquered the region, Machu Picchu was forgotten, and then discovered centuries later by an American archeologist and explorer, Hiram Bingham. This is really the most dramatic of all the Inca sites.

2. Sacsayhuaman

Located in the hills above Cusco, this fortification features several tiers of large stone walls that would have been a formidable challenge to overcome for any attacking force. The work of the stonemasons building the site was remarkable considering that there was no mortar used, but the stones still fit together beautifully as they did several centuries ago, which has helped them to survive the test of time.

Eight Inca Sites That Have To Be Seen In South America

3. Vitcos

The legends about this town, located just a short drive from Cusco vary about who founded the city, with some claiming it was built by Manco Inca after he fled from the Spanish forces, while others believe it is much older dating from the time of Pachacuti Inca. Today you can see the ruins of the impressive palace that was built here, and Yurak Rumi, a carved rock that was one of the holiest locations in the Inca Empire.

4. Ollantaytambo

As you climb up into the town, rising through several sections of stone terraces, you can see why this was one of the Inca strongholds, and why that it was here the Inca enjoyed one of the first real victories against the invading Spanish forces. Large slabs of pink granite are located at the top of the hill, while even inside the walls the streets are still in the same layout as they were during the Inca period.

Eight Inca Sites That Have To Be Seen In South America

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5. Moray

This is a very different type of site as it is a series of three large man made bowls where tiered terraces have been cut into the ground with plenty of lush soil which provides the nutrition for this agricultural site. The temperature as you descend into the man made bowls can descend significantly, which is why some historians believed this was used as an experimentation area for new farming techniques by the Inca culture.

6. Kuelap

The walls of this fortress are over sixty feet in height and it stands on a ridge overlooking the Utcubamba valley. It was certainly a military stronghold that helped ensure the Inca’s control of the area. Inside the walls there is a series of buildings for everything from practising military skills through to food storage, and its scale is difficult to match elsewhere in the region.

Eight Inca Sites That Have To Be Seen In South America

7. Choquequirao

Originally discovered as a set of agricultural terraces, this estate is believed to have been the home of one of the Inca emperors, with a mountain top location that offers some sensational scenery. The real challenge here is that getting to the site is very difficult, with a tough climb up from the end of the nearest road. However, the buildings are reminiscent of Machu Picchu, while the decorative stone llamas show the presence of an advanced culture.

8. Isla del Sol

The Isla del Sol is one of the islands that lie between Peru and Bolivia on Lake Titicaca, and it is this remoteness that may have helped these ruins to remain largely unspoiled, as you will usually be able to explore the site alone or with just a few people who came over on the boat with you. The Inca legend states that it was here that waters first receded and Inti emerged from the water.

Eight Inca Sites That Have To Be Seen In South America

About Author

Michael - Go See Write

Michael - Go See Write

In late 2008, Michael closed down his legal practice of ten years to embark on a quest to circle the globe without getting on a single airplane. Sixteen months, six continents, and forty-four countries later, he succeeded and he has just kept going since. He is a permanent traveler that specializes in slower, overland travel all around the world. Go See Write

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