The Inca Empire was one of the most advanced civilizations in the pre-Columbian Americas, and its ruins are a testament to its ingenuity and engineering prowess. From the cloud-shrouded citadel of Machu Picchu to the agricultural terraces of Moray, these ancient Inca sites offer a glimpse into a lost world.
Here are 10 of the most impressive ancient Inca ruins:
1. Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is undoubtedly the most famous Inca ruin, and it’s easy to see why. This sprawling mountaintop citadel is a marvel of engineering and architecture, with its perfectly fitted stone walls and terraces that cling to the hillside. Machu Picchu was built in the 15th century, and it’s believed to have been a sacred retreat for the Inca elite. Today, it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
Ollantaytambo was a major Inca fortress and administrative center. It’s known for its impressive terraces, temples, and aqueducts. Ollantaytambo also played an important role in the Inca resistance against the Spanish conquistadors. Today, it’s a popular base for exploring the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Pisac was another important Inca fortress town. It’s known for its impressive ruins, which include temples, baths, and agricultural terraces. Pisac is also a popular market town, where visitors can buy traditional Inca handicrafts.
Moray is a unique Inca ruin that consists of a series of concentric terraces. These terraces were used to experiment with different crops at different altitudes. Moray is believed to have been an agricultural research center for the Incas.
Sacsayhuamán is a massive fortress complex that lies just outside of Cusco, the former capital of the Inca Empire. Sacsayhuamán is known for its massive walls, which are made up of perfectly fitted stones weighing up to 130 tons. Sacsayhuamán is believed to have been a religious and ceremonial center for the Incas.
Choquequirao is a large Inca ruin that’s often referred to as the “lost city of the Incas.” It’s located in the remote Vilcabamba Mountains, and it’s only accessible by foot or by mule. Choquequirao is known for its well-preserved ruins, which include temples, plazas, and terraces.
Kuelap is a massive fortress complex that’s located in the northern Peruvian Amazon. It’s known for its circular walls, which are made up of over 600,000 stones. Kuelap is believed to have been built by the Chachapoyas culture, which was conquered by the Incas in the 15th century.
Ingapirca is the largest Inca ruin in Ecuador. It’s known for its well-preserved ruins, which include temples, plazas, and baths. Ingapirca is believed to have been a religious and administrative center for the Incas.
Tiwanaku is an ancient city that was built by the Tiwanaku culture, which predated the Incas. Tiwanaku is known for its massive stone sculptures and its intricate pottery. The Tiwanaku culture had a significant influence on the Inca Empire, and many of its religious beliefs and practices were adopted by the Incas.
10. Nazca Lines
The Nazca Lines are a series of giant geoglyphs that were created by the Nazca culture, which also predated the Incas. The Nazca Lines depict animals, plants, and geometric shapes. They’re believed to have been used for religious and ceremonial purposes.
These are just a few of the many impressive ancient Inca ruins that can be found in Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia. These ruins offer a glimpse into the fascinating and complex Inca civilization. If you’re interested in history and archaeology, then a visit to these ruins is a must.
Here are some additional tips for visiting ancient Inca ruins:
- Be prepared for high altitudes. Many Inca ruins are located at high altitudes, so it’s important to acclimatize before visiting. Take it easy on your first day, and avoid strenuous activity. Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol.
- Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be doing a lot of walking, so it’s important to wear comfortable shoes with good traction.
- Bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. The sun can be very strong at high altitudes, so it’s important to protect yourself from the sun.
- Bring water and snacks. There are often no food or drink vendors at Inca ruins, so it’s important to bring your own.
- Be respectful of the ruins. Don’t climb on the structures or remove any artifacts.
- Hire a guide. A guide can help you learn more about the ruins and their history.