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Pisac, Archaeological Park

The Pisac archaeological complex is one of the main attractions in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Learn everything you need to know about this incredible place.
Centro Arqueológico de Pisac
The terraces are one of the main attractions in Pisac.

The archaeological site of Pisac is considered one of the finest archaeological complexes in Peru. This place was not only an Inca citadel but also an important religious center.

The name Pisac comes from the Quechua “Pisaca” which means partridge, originally the archaeological site of Pisac was shaped like a partridge, since the Incas liked to shape their most relevant cities in the form of animals.

History

The archaeological park of Pisac was built by order of Inca Pachacútec, the main expander of the Inca Empire, in the middle of the 15th century. Upon the arrival of the Spanish conquest, this place was invaded, and the inhabitants fled, leaving the location. The conquerors destroyed the main monuments, and the cemetery was looted and destroyed.

Over time, the population settled at the foot of the mountain on which the archaeological site was built. Currently, it is divided into 2 zones, the old one located in the upper part, which is the Inca archaeological site, and the current, which is the colonial town at the foot of the mountain.

Description

The National Archaeological Park of Pisac is made up of clusters of archaeological remains among which terraces, aqueducts, paths associated with walls and doorways, channeled waterways, cemeteries, bridges, etc., stand out.

It covers an area of 4 square kilometers. On this area, the constructions occupy the hills, appearing in groups of complex arrangement, while in others isolated constructions from other groups are noted.

This place is notable for the 40 terraces that form an inverted triangle, mainly used for agriculture. In addition, the District of QaschisRaqay, the District of K’allaQ’asa, the District of Intiwatana, the District of Pisaq’a, and the District of Tianayuc can be found, the 5 Inca neighborhoods located in different sectors of the citadel.

Location

The Park of Pisac is located 33 km east of the city of Cusco. It can be reached through an agency for a tour of the entire Sacred Valley. Public transportation to Urubamba, which leaves every 15 minutes, can also be used. You must get off at the Pisac bridge and then head towards the back of the Pisac temple on a walk of about an hour.

Tourist Attractions

Acchapata Terrace Group

Just 200 meters up from the town square of Pisac, a beautiful set of terraces rises. This group consists of 40 terraces forming a sort of triangle with the vertex pointing down, meaning the smallest terrace is the first one a visitor sees when starting to ascend.

Towers or Pucaras

In the citadel of Pisac, we can count more than twenty towers, and they are of two types:

  • Habitable towers, are conical enclosures associated with water channels built with well-carved and assembled pieces, these seem like pulpits attached to the mountain.
  • Watchtower towers, are beautiful elevations, with a conical tendency, they are not enclosures, their texture is solid, and their interior is a compact mass plus their portion is flat surface. The most important in its location is Qoriwayrachina.

Intiwatana District

This is the central district which was the site of temples and palaces, with higher architectural quality, more beauty in its walls, and the enclosures are larger in relation to those of other districts. It has 3 levels for aesthetic and comfort, modulating the buildings directed towards the main valley. In this place, we can find: The central enclosure, the Intiwatana, the altar carved in volcanic breach, groups of liturgical fountains, alleys, and courtyards.

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Tianayuc District

It is known as Tianayuc which translates as “that has a seat,” since in the inner courtyard there is a kind of sofa for two people, with a backrest and armrests made of stone. This district is small, with rooms whose doors open onto a central courtyard, plus an almost destroyed tower that dominates a good part of the K’itamayu ravine.

K’allaQ’asa District

This is the largest of the districts of the Inca city of Pisac, built on the top of the mountain, the highest altitude of all the enclosures, its enclosures spread over a sloping plane descending towards the North. It has many rooms, steep slopes, towers, a short tunnel 3 meters in length; this district has impressive ravines on its sides.

Pisaq’a District

It is located over the Chongo ravine, two hundred meters away from the Intiwatana district and at a lower height. This district was built by lowering the surface level to modulate a plain. The plan of this district is semicircular following the shape of the mountain, this complex consists of 23 enclosures built with astonishing order.

QanchisRaqay District

This district has many important constructions, the houses are made of medium and small stones, the plan of the complex is inclined reaching the slope where the Chongo stream is. The whole district stands as a sentinel controlling the northeastern side of the city of Pisac.

Other activities on your visit to Pisac

Upon arriving in the town of Pisac, you can not only visit the archaeological park but also engage in other activities.

Pisac Botanical Garden

This space allows us to appreciate different types of flora, such as orchids, the kantu flower, medicinal plants, and various Andean cacti. You can also walk through the potato museum, with a sample of 200 native potatoes, which is only a small percentage of the more than 3 thousand varieties of potatoes that exist in Peru.

This botanical garden has a mineral exhibition and an exhibition of insects from the area, among which you can find butterflies, beetles, and more.

It is located just a block and a half from the Plaza de Pisac with visiting hours daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, tickets can be purchased at the entrance of the garden, so there are no excuses not to visit this place on your visit to Pisac.

Visit the Pisac Market

The market in the town of Pisac is famous for offering a wide variety of products, including food, jewelry, and garments made by local artisans. On Sundays, the market welcomes producers from communities near the town of Pisac, where you can find all kinds of natural foods. This experience is full of color and tradition, a must-see on your visit to the archaeological site of Pisac.

Trek to the archaeological site

The archaeological park of Pisac is 3.6 km from the town, which makes many visitors prefer to walk up the mountain. The route ascends about 454 meters, approximately following stone staircases. Completing the entire path can take between 2 and 3 hours, depending on the physical condition of the person.

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