There are literally dozens of Incan ruins in Peru (and some in Bolivia), and even some ancient sites that pre-date the Incas. The likes of Winay Wanya, Moray, and of course a little place called Machu Picchu, are all ingrained in the minds of travellers to South America and those who enjoy studying Incan civilisations. However, the port of entry (or rather airport) to Peru is Lima, the capital city. Where around here can you enjoy some Incan sites before heading off to Cusco to hike the Inca Trail?
Pucllana is a great adobe and clay pyramid located in the Miraflores district of central Lima that is built from seven staggered platforms. It takes its name from the Quechua word “pucllay” which can be translated as “a place for ritual games”.
The pyramidal structure here is surrounded by a plaza that borders the outer limits and by a large structured wall dividing it into two separate sections. In one section there is evidence of deep pits where offerings of fish and other marine life took place in order to attain the favour of the gods. The other area contains small clay structures made of adobe, whose function seemed to be to act as the courtyards and patios of the enclosure.
Of particular note are the remains of the “Señor de los Unkus” (The Lord of the Unkus), which belonged to the first tomb within the ceremonial centre to have been discovered completely intact. This tomb holds three separate burial shrouds containing the remains of three adults – two of which have masks – and those of a sacrificed child.
The temple of Pachacamac is an archaeological site 40km southeast of Lima, in the Lurín River Valley. Most of the common buildings and temples were built in the early stages of the original conquest of the Inca Empire.
Archaeologists have identified at least 17 pyramids (many of them irreversibly damaged by the El Niño weather phenomenon). Besides these numerous pyramids, the site has a well-ordered cemetery. A number of Huari-influenced designs appear on the structures and on the ceramics and textiles found in the cemeteries of this period. The majority of the common architecture and temples were built during the period of 800-1450AD.
The Incan Empire, which used Pachacamac as an important administrative centre. The Inca maintained it as a religious shrine and allowed the Pachacamac priests to continue functioning independently of the Inca priesthood. This included the oracle, whom the Inca presumably consulted. The Inca built five additional buildings, including a temple to the sun on the main square.
Huaca Huallamarca (otherwise known as Wak’a Wallamarka) actually pre-dates the Inca’s arrival to Peru and is also located in the capital city of Lima. Nestled among condominium towers and sprawling high-end homes, the simple Huaca Huallamarca is a highly restored adobe pyramid, produced by the Lima culture, that dates to somewhere between 200-500AD. A small on-site museum, complete with mummy, details its excavation.
When in Lima, it is a great idea to get used to Incan (and pre-Incan) architecture on the outskirts of the city before getting the train down to Cusco to begin your adventure proper.