NOTE: This article is part of a series of 12 articles on Peru and the many beautiful aspects of this country. There is a post for each day I spent there, although some may not be relative to that particular day. I intend to post two articles a week for this series, on Thursdays and Mondays.
Peru is incredibly famous for its ancient ruins that are scattered throughout the country. While the Incas are the primary group that comes to mind, there are certainly ruins from other groups; the Incas were merely the last group before Spanish discovery. Buildings from the Huari, the Lima, and many other groups exist. I wish I could have seen them all, but I will give some details of the ones we did come across.
Huaca Pucllana was the first pyramid I have ever seen and one of my first sights in Peru. It was built by the Limas in 230 BCE, and later controlled by the Huari. But thousands of years later, it was buried under a motocross ring until people realized its existence. It is still in the process of being uncovered, which will be completed in another twenty or thirty years. There are numerous platforms for sacrifices and many tombs scattered throughout. A guide will direct you around the place, explaining how it was built, the lifestyle of the people, and the purpose of each area.
While these are certainly less exciting, you will find terraces everywhere from pre-conquistador times. They are all still used for farming and are a very common method of agriculture in the mountains. I recall when I was on a safari in Tanzania, I was told that I would get bored of zebras because there are just so many. This can also be applied to terraces in Peru, as they are so commonplace. Nevertheless, they are still fascinating and impressive.
Of course, Machu Picchu is the most famous of ruins in Peru. Discovered in 1911, this lost city inspired many other explorations for hidden ruins such as the City of Z, Shambhala, and El Dorado. It sits deep within the Andes and is massive and untouched from colonization due to the high elevation. There’s so much to tell about this place that I have an entire article on my Machu Picchu experience.
Nestled in the mountains surrounding Ollantaytambo is Pinkuylluna, a small fortress hovering over the colonial town. The footpath is tricky to find, but there is no charge to visit this archaeological site. Please be careful on the way up, its a testing hike!
The Raqch’i Temple on the way from Cuzco to Puno (a solid 8 hour drive, although scenic) is one of the last Incan sites you will see as you continue towards Bolivia and Lake Titicaca. There is a cute little market square with little trinkets to buy (I got sucked in once again) and the towering walls left over from the gateway. It also shows the style of Incan agriculture through aqueducts and water ways. It is a good opportunity to stretch your legs on the drive.
Lastly, we got to check out Sillustani, an Incan burial ground. Here they used their awesome architectural skills and built cylindrical tombs that were seal shut. Here were the people of importance buried, such as Incan kings. It certainly has a quiet and eery feel to it, similar to Machu Picchu. Behind it was a huge lake with no waves or ripples. The entire place was very still.
Overall, Peru and its ruins have a lot of history and sightseeing to offer, making it an awesome experience.