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10 best Inca Ruins & Archaeological Sites to Visit

The ancient Inca civilization of Peru is popular for its impressive architecture, including grand temples, palaces, and fortresses. Today, these Inca ruins and archaeological sites continue to draw visitors from around the world who are interested in learning about the history and culture of this fascinating civilization.

If you are planning a trip to Peru and want to explore some of these incredible sites, here are ten of the best Inca ruins and archaeological sites to visit.

1. Inca ruins of Machu Picchu 

Machu Picchu is an Inca citadel high up in the Peruvian Andes. It was built around 1450 and abandoned in the 16th century, until its rediscovery in 1911 by explorer Hiram Bingham. The site consists of massive stone structures, terraces and plazas, surrounded by lush green mountains and a deep canyon below.

The citadel is accessible by a short train trip from Cusco, or via the famous Inca Trail. Some of the highlights of the citadel are the Temple of the Sun and the mysterious Temple of the Moon. The latter nestles on the nearby Huayna Picchu mountain.

Machu Picchu continues to attract visitors from all over the world who come to marvel at its beauty and mystery. Due to its archaeological significance UNESCO recognizes it as a World Heritage Site, making it one of South America’s most important cultural sites.

10 best Inca Ruins & Archaeological Sites to Visit

2. Sacsayhuaman

Sacsayhuaman is an ancient Incan fortress near the city of Cusco, Peru. Built in the 15th century, it was a military stronghold and religious site of the Incas. The site consists of three massive terraced walls made from large stones that were carved with tools made from bronze or stone. These stones are held together without mortar and fit so tightly that not even a knife blade can fit between them.

Sacsayhuaman is home to many other structures such as temples, towers, staircases and plazas which was  spiritually prominent to the Incas. Today, Sacsayhuaman is a popular tourist attraction and provides insight into the culture of pre-Columbian South America.

Sacsayhuaman

3. Chinchero

Chinchero is an archaeological site in the Sacred Valley of Cusco. It was once the palace of Tupac Inca Yupanqui, one of the most powerful rulers of pre-Inca times. The palace of Chinchero was built by Tupac Inca Yupanqui himself and was used as a royal residence for his family and courtiers.

The architecture of Chinchero is notable for its combination of stone walls with adobe bricks and mud mortar, which gives it a unique look compared to other sites from this period. Visitors can explore some original structures such as terraces, plazas and staircases that still remain intact today. There is also an ancient colonial church on site that was constructed during Spanish rule in Peru.

4. Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo is an ancient Incan town in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, just outside Cusco. The town has been continuously inhabited since its construction by the Inca emperor Pachacuti in 1450. It was once an important administrative center for the empire and a stronghold against Spanish attacks during colonial times.

Today Ollantaytambo retains its original design and is home to some of Peru’s most impressive archaeological sites including terraced hillsides, ancient temples, and plazas. Many visitors come to explore these ruins as well as take part in outdoor activities such as trekking or mountain biking through stunning natural landscapes surrounding this small village.

5. Tambomachay

Tambomachay is an Inca archaeological site in Peru, near the city of Cusco. The site was built by the Incas around 1400 AD and consists of several structures including baths, aqueducts and platforms.

Legends say that Tambomachay was a ceremonial center for religious rituals involving water. The walls are constructed with finely carved stones, many of which feature intricate carvings depicting animals and geometric shapes.

Today, Tambomachay remains an important historical landmark in Peru and continues to draw visitors from all over the world who come to marvel at its beauty and learn about its fascinating history.

6. Moray

The Inca ruins of Moray are an archaeological site near the Sacred Valley in Peru. This ancient ruin served as a laboratory for experimenting with different crops and terraces. The site consists of several circular agricultural terraces, each accessible by a staircase. These circles were used as microclimates where temperatures could be manipulated to create ideal growing conditions for various plants and crops.

The ruins are still being studied today, providing insight into the advanced agricultural techniques developed by the Incas.

7. Pisac

The Inca ruins of Pisac nestles on a mountain ridge overlooking the Sacred Valley in Peru. The complex was built as an administrative, religious and military center by the powerful Inca Empire between 1400 and 1532 AD. It consists of many impressive structures including terraces, plazas, temples and baths which were all accessible by a network of roads.

Visitors to the site can explore its fascinating history and admire its stunning views over the Urubamba Valley below.

8. Choquequirao

Choquequirao is an Inca archaeological site in the south of Peru. It was built by the Incas as a spiritual and religious center, and was used for ceremonies and rituals related to their religion. The site consists of terraces, plazas, temples, stairways and other structures that were built using stones cut with precision.

Choquequirao nestles high on a mountain ridge at 3,050 meters above sea level and offers spectacular views of the surrounding valleys. It is a popular hiking destination for tourists due its remote location in one of Peru’s most beautiful landscapes.

9. Qenqo

Qenqo, or Kenko, is an archaeological site near the city of Cusco. It was a ceremonial center used by the Inca civilization and consists of a large rock outcrop with terraces and staircases carved into it. The main feature is a semi-circular amphitheater or the ceremonial centre.

There are also several other smaller structures including altars, walls, and platforms which were probably used for various ritual activities.

 

10. Qorikancha

Qorikancha is an important Inca temple. It is in the heart of the Cusco city. Built around 1400 AD, it was the main religious center of the Inca Empire and held a variety of precious artifacts made from gold and silver. The temple was dedicated to Inti, the sun God, and many ceremonies were performed within its walls.

After the Spanish conquest in 1532, Qorikancha was destroyed but some original stonework remains today. It is now part of Santo Domingo Convent which stands atop the ruins. Visitors can still explore this incredible site to gain insight into ancient Incan culture and history!

These are just a few of the many Inca ruins and archaeological sites that you can visit in Peru. Whether you are into history, architecture, or culture, there is something for everyone to enjoy at these amazing sites. So, if you are planning a trip to Peru, be sure to add some of these incredible Inca ruins and archaeological sites to your itinerary.

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