When you think of traveling to Peru, your thoughts inevitably go to Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu is undeniably the most celebrated and well-known icons of Peru and the world. However, long before Machu Picchu was constructed, long before the Incas became a force to reckon with, many other cultures thrived in this part of the world and built civilizations, the signs of which can still be found all around Peru.
Although the whole of Peru is replete with remains of the civilizations that pre-date the Incas, many of those can be found within or in close proximity of Lima, the capital city, the most prominent of which is undoubtedly Pachacamac.
Pachacamac is located south of Lima, in the valley of the Lurin River, at about an hour’s drive (depending on traffic and can be much longer). As the archaeological sanctuary of Pachacamac is located on the coast, it can be seen while driving to Paracas, Ica or Nazca – also places of great note for visitors.
Although there have been signs of civilizations in the Lurin valley as old as 5000 B.C, Pachacamac is said to have been built around 200 A.D. and named after the “Earth Maker” Pacha Kamaq. It was considered a place of pilgrimage which was visited by people from all around the region, including from the highlands and the jungles. The subsequent cultures such as the Huari or Wari, the Ichma or Yschma and later the Incas maintained its status as the most sacred place in the region.
As you enter the archaeological sanctuary of Pachacamac, you can’t help but notice the barrenness and the apparent absence of any visible buildings except for the cafeteria and the small museum. However, as you start exploring the 440 hectares, buildings made of mud bricks known as adobe start making themselves visible.
The most prominent constructions are Acllawasi where it is said that women especially selected for their skills and their beauty resided, two ramped pyramids – located on high ground – which used to be the residences of the governors of Pachacamac and other royals (it is said). Other notable remains are that of what is now known as ‘Cementerio Max Uhle’ named after the famous German archaeologist Max Uhle.
Mummies have been found in this cemetery and many still remain hidden under the sand. Right behind the cemetery is ‘Templo Pintado’ or ‘Painted Temple’, the temple of the god Pachacamac. It is here that a wooden idol of the god was discovered. As you climb the hill past this temple, you encounter possibly the most important edifice in the sanctuary, ‘Templo del Sol’ or ‘Temple of Sun’, which was constructed by the Incas. From the Templo del Sol you have a wonderful view of the Pacific Ocean and the Islas Pachacamac about which there is an intriguing legend.
Consider a visit to Pachacamac and some of the other special wonders along the South Coast. Ancient Summit is happy to be your host.
About Ancient Summit:
Ancient Summit is so much more than just a travel company. Over 30 years of experience living and working in Peru let Nina Fogelman and her team craft personalized experiences that capture the heart and soul of Peru.
Their passion for Peru combined with their exceptional knowledge and experience will create an experience that will leave Peru on your mind and in your heart long after you’ve returned home.
Contact us to plan your lifetime adventure.