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Portada / About Peru / Cusco / Archaeological Centers Cusco / Puka Pukara - Red Fortress

Puka Pukara - Red Fortress

The archaeological complex of Puca Pucara is one of the archaeological centers located on the outskirts of the city of Cusco. Learn more about this impressive place.
Puca Pucara is one of the best-preserved archaeological centers.

Puca Pucara is one of the most important archaeological complexes in Cusco, alongside Sacsayhuaman, Q'enqo, and Tambomachay.

Its architecture demonstrates the advanced Inca technology, although the lack of perfect finishes suggests that this site was not of significant religious importance. However, it was of great importance for the Inca messengers and the royal guard.

Archaeological complex of Puca Pucara. Source: CuscoPeru.com
Archaeological complex of Puca Pucara


Its construction was initiated by a culture prior to the Incas; however, it was under Pachacútec's reign that the infrastructure was improved.

Traditional information indicates that when the Inca was set to visit the Baths of Tambomachay, the formidable entourage of soldiers stayed in Puca Pucara, which served as a barracks and tambo. It is said that the chincana (underground tunnel) existing at the site directly connected to Tambomachay, although this is unproven.

What does Puca Pucara mean?

The name Puca Pucara comes from two Quechua words meaning "Puca or Puka" red and "Pucara" which is fortress. Its translation would be Red Fortress, receiving this name due to the reddish hue its walls acquire in the evening.

Where is it located?

The Archaeological Center of Puca Pucara is located on the upper part of the road leading to Pisac, about 7 km from the city of Cusco.

To get there, you can take a City Tour from any travel agency. Additionally, you can reach it by foot after visiting Tambomachay, as it is just a few meters away from the Inca baths.


This archaeological complex features terraces, walls, aqueducts, squares, and stairways that ensure the urban layout is suitable and functional. The buildings are made of stones of various sizes, with the surface of the rocks being very rugged and scarcely worked, compared to other archaeological sites.

The structure was built using limestone native to the area, mostly medium and small stones, all joined with great precision, making it resistant to various seismic movements.

The complex includes three walls with irregular floors, built across three levels on the same site.

First level

Located at the lower part of the archaeological complex, this first wall has a sinuous layout carefully avoiding cutting through protruding rocks. To the north and behind the outer wall, there are six rooms of different sizes, built irregularly to avoid touching the rocks forming the wall.

Second level

The second wall encircles the central elevation. Between this and the first one, there are very broad platforms. On the second level, we find terracing and gardens facing south, and to the east, there are three rooms with trapezoidal plants and one rectangular.

Third level

This level is situated at the highest point. Currently, no Inca remains can be observed due to the passage of time; however, it offers an incredible view of the entire place.

Curiosities of Puca Pucara

  • Although its name translates to "Red Fortress," it has not been proven that the Incas used this place as a fortress.
  • It is believed that this space served as a rest site for the Inca's personal guards when the ruler visited the baths of Tambomachay.
  • This archaeological complex is located right in the middle of one of the Qhapaq Ñan paths, so its location could also have served as a tambo or resting place for the chasquis or messengers who traveled several kilometers.
  • A chincana is also found, presumed to connect Puca Pucara with Tambomachay. The chincanas were underground labyrinths that connected different parts of the Tahuantinsuyo, making the journey shorter.

General Information about Puca Pucara

Visiting Hours

Monday to Sunday from 08:00 am to 05:30 pm.


Entrance to Puca Pucara is included in the Tourist Ticket.

  • Tourist Ticket Cusco for foreign tourists: S/. 130.00 (USD 36 approx.) allows entry to 16 tourist sites, valid for 10 days.
  • Tourist Ticket Cusco for national tourists: S/. 70.00 (USD 20 approx.) allows entry to 16 tourist sites, valid for 10 days.


The climate at Puca Pucara matches that of the city of Cusco, generally being dry and temperate. However, it is recommended to visit this site in the afternoon when the temperature is not so high, and you can appreciate why the place is named as it is.

How to get to Sacsayhuamán?

Reaching Puca Pucara is very simple, and it offers different options:

  • Public transportation: If you want to save money and already have your tourist ticket, this option is for you. You can go to the "Rosaspata" stop where the "Huerto" company passes, which will take you to the Puca Pucara complex in no more than 30 minutes. You can ask the transport staff for help; they will gladly assist you.
  • By taxi: Taxi service is a very convenient option if you want to get there quickly, the service should not cost more than 30 soles and the journey lasts no more than 20 minutes.
  • Tourist bus: This option can be found in the city center, and it allows you not only to visit Puca Pucara but also other nearby archaeological sites, such as Sacsayhuaman, Q’enqo, and Tambomachay.
  • Guided tour: Most tours offered include a visit to the archaeological complex of Puca Pucara. This is the best option for your visit, plus you will be accompanied by a guide who will explain in detail the history of this magical place.

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