Unlock the mysteries of one of the world's biggest civilisations at the finest Inca ruins and also archaeological website in Peru and Bolivia.

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South America"s diversity of superior Inca ruins and archaeological sites enable us to piece together the story of the ancient civilisation and also unlock the mysteries the life during the regime of the Incas. Varying from powerful citadels in the clouds to remote imperial retreats, intricate temples, ingenious crop terracing and also sacred rocks, these places reveal the resourcefulness, power, devotion and also innovation v which the Incas ruled and also peel back the great of intrigue on your societal order and also sacrificial rituals and ceremonies.

Join united state as we travel from the Inca heartland of the spiritual Valley, down to the spiritual waters of Lake Titicaca and into Bolivia together we current our favourite Inca historical sites and also how you can ideal experience them for yourselves.

Machu Picchu

Our perform of the best Inca damages starts at the well known lost citadel the the Incas, a magnificent royal complex sat between misty cloud forest above a deep ridge above the sacred Valley. Machu Picchu is the many well-known, well-preserved and also spectacularly situated Inca archaeological site in Peru and therefore is the most visited. It was built around 1450, as the Incas spread their realm outwards native the capital Cusco, led by their visionary leader Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui.

The sheer scale of the site, the immense size the the stones and also the quite inaccessible ar are all testimony to the remarkable ingenuity, ambition and also man-power displayed by the realm in producing such a lavish and also durable complicated in the clouds. Vast stones are perfectly pieced with each other without mortar like huge jigsaws, whilst huge agricultural terraces pave improbably roughly steep mountainsides. Within this previous royal palace-cum-ancient citadel we discover areas specialized to sacrificial ceremonies, huge observations, worshipping the the sunlight god Inti, massive food storage and even prisons.

Visiting Machu Picchu in person permits us to truly evaluate this magnificent surprise citadel in ~ its breathtaking setting, surrounding by lush environment-friendly hills, much from civilisation. That is a sight and also experience that no lot of postcard-perfect pictures can quite prepare friend for, even if it is you have hiked for days to acquire to the sunlight Gate or ridden the train from the spiritual Valley or from Cusco. Your guide will take it you back centuries, come a time when the Inca realm flourished, come recreate life below in ancient Peru.

How to visit: Machu Picchu is most frequently reached via train from Ollantaytambo in the spiritual Valley or Poroy on the suburbs of Cusco and visited as part of an overnight continue to be in Machu Picchu Pueblo. That can likewise be experienced as part of a day trip from Cusco and, that course, is the finishing allude for the four day Inca Trail.

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Pisac

Situated in ~ a strategic position on a hilltop in ~ the eastern finish of the spiritual Valley is the Inca fortress city of Pisac. The website overlooks a deep gorge, with huge terracing wrapping roughly the mountainsides and forming memorable vistas the the surrounding valley. Among the most vital structures in Pisac room the royal baths complex, the temple of Sun, the holy place of Heaven, military stations and also areas devoted to astronomy and sacrifices. This remains and the obvious agricultural activities hint at the scale, usage and importance that the city in Inca times, prior to it was ruined by the European colonists in the 16th century.

Today, Pisac is again a thriving little town, with among the region"s largest and most colourful markets.

How come visit: Pisac is finest visited as part of a full day tourism of the sacred Valley, maybe in conjunction through Ollantaytambo, the Maras Salt Ponds and also the Moray terraces.

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Ollantaytambo

Our following entry on the run-down that the finest Inca ruins in south America takes united state to the other finish of the sacred Valley. Much like Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo existed in part as an imperial retreat, and an governmental centre, a fortress and also a small city of roughly 1,000 inhabitants. It to be established relatively late top top in the Inca empire, overlooking critical road from Cusco come Machu Picchu and also near the confluence that the Urubamba and also Patakancha rivers. The website was comprised of enormous terraces, which listed protection for the fort, imperial bathing quarters and also a fine example of a temple specialized to Inti, which was still being constructed when the first wave that Spanish arrived.

Ollantaytambo is noteworthy as the scene of one of the Inca"s biggest victories against the invaders, despite the city to be eventually beat in 1537. When the Incas were required to flee indigenous Ollantaytambo, it is thought that your decision to head come Victos and also then the fortified Vilcabamba and not to Machu Picchu intended that the latter would not be uncovered by the Europeans.

Today Ollantaytambo is a little town which quiet preserves its greatly traditional and also agricultural method of life.

How to visit: Ollantaytambo have the right to be an unified with access time to Pisac, Moray and also the Maras Salt Ponds in a full day trip through the sacred Valley.

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Moray

A rare instance of elliptical terracing, Moray displayed an aptitude for finding ingenious ways to feeding the immense Inca population. The terracing allowed different plants to grow and also thrive at different levels, transforming the levels of shade and sun and also subtly varying the altitude.

A good deal of mystery and intrigue still surrounding the terracing, through the general consensus among experts being that they were provided as a activities or research study tool because that different species of crops. This is backed-up by the evidence of floor from other areas of the surrounding Andean valley, having actually been imported to the site for testing. Thus the decision around which crops to thrive in various climatic conditions and elevations about the sacred Valley could have to be taken here.

How come visit: Moray is located in the heart of the spiritual Valley and also is went to in conjunction through the spectacular pre-Inca salt ponds that Maras, as well as Ollantaytambo and also Pisac. 

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Inca follow Ruins

Rather than one single ruin, the following entry combines five of the finest Inca ruins on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The old path leader past numerous important Inca sites and also through landscapes as diverse as cloud forest and high hill passes. Among the an initial major historical sites is Patallacta, a significant agricultural centre the was largely burned down by a retreating Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui in a desperate effort to stop his Spanish pursuers in their tracks.

Further follow me is the circular damage of Runkurakay, perched on a mountain pass in ~ an key of 4,000 metres. From here, one deserve to enjoy panoramic see of the landscape, making it ideal as a watchtower or a tambo resting prevent on the means to Machu Picchu, the 2 most likely uses. Among the many picturesque damages on the Inca trail is the of Wiñay Wayna, whereby graceful terracing leader round come a little cluster of stone buildings, behind which are a collection of cascades, nestled amid verdant cloud forest. 

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Inca ruins of Wiñay Wayna (photo by Cédric Liénart)

Getting closer to Machu Picchu brings us to Phuyupatamarca, i m sorry you could find much easier to refer to as the "City in the Clouds". The chop terracing, ceremonial baths, freshwater fountains and also the temple of Sun created the most crucial parts the this former town. The final historical site encountered before the mythical sanctuary is Intipunku - the sun Gate. The is from right here that intrepid hikers get their first glimpse that the lost citadel and enter the site, just as the Incas would have actually done centuries ago. Intipunku offered as a fortress that managed entrance into Machu Picchu, enabling those that passed a sumptuous view down towards the citadel. The site likewise has a deeply symbolic meaning, draft to allow the sun to pass through the door on the winter solstice each year.

How come visit: These ruins are went to as component of the four day classic Inca Trail native kilometre 82, just past Ollantaytambo, every the means to the sun Gate at Machu Picchu. This can be excellent on a exclusive basis, though an ext commonly as component of a group. Both choices include porters, chefs and guides to enhance your suffer and allow you to focus on the landscapes, background and physical obstacles of the old route.

Sacsayhuaman

We now leave behind the sacred Valley and head come the former Inca resources of Cusco, or an ext specifically to a big hill overlooking the northern component of the city. Forming the head of Cusco"s puma-shaped layout is the imposing temple-fortress the Sacsayhuaman, built in the mid-15th century under the accuse of Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui. The is at once an imposing present of power and also a framework designed to gracefully imitate and also blend subtly right into the bordering landscape, ideal evidenced in the zig-zagging wall surfaces which mimic the curves of the mountains. The was provided to both celebrate deities with sacrificial offerings and also store masses that arsenal v which to safeguard the city indigenous potential threats.

Sacsayhuaman was largely dedicated to the worship of Inti, the Inca sun god. At its heart is an unusual circular stone temple and the site was the scene for regular sacrifices and also the yearly Inti Raymi festival. Organized every June to mark the winter solstice, the Festival of the sunlight endures come this day, a colourful affair v traditionally-dressed entrants re-enacting ceremonial procedures and dances.

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Intyi Raymi fesitval at Sacsayhuaman (photo through McKay Savage)

Just favor Machu Picchu and also many various other Inca sites, Sacsayhuaman was an enormous undertaking. Although a great deal the the framework was ruined by the Spanish and its stones repurposed to construct Cusco"s early american churches, its vast walls keep one of the best examples that the precision and the craftsmanship through which the Incas built their fortresses and cities, and also the focus placed on harmonious integration with the landscape.

How come visit: Sacsayhuaman is visited on an in-depth tour the Cusco to acquire a full photo of the old Inca and colonial era heritage i m sorry converge in the city. An ext of i beg your pardon in our following entry... 

Qoricancha

Number 7 takes us into the heart of Cusco. This day we can find plenty of examples the Spanish churches and mansions having actually been developed atop the structures of Inca structures. The best and also most far-reaching example that this is Qoricancha.

Once a richly gilded temple committed to Inti, Qoricancha to be the many sacred and precious temple and pilgrimage destination in the whole Inca empire. Rebuilt under the accuse of leader Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, it was supposedly inspired by the megalithic rock structures that the coming before Tiwanaku civilisation. From here, a collection of ceques radiated outwards, spiritual paths provided for spiritual processions, soil regulation and linking together shrines. Within Qoricancha lived about 4,000 priests, alongside the mummified remains of several of the most venerated Inca rulers.

The priests have long since departed and also Qoricancha was conveniently stripped the its precious gold and also much of the destroyed. In its ar today stand the colonial era Santo Domingo church and also convent, the most vivid instance of just how Inca beliefs were ruthlessly supplanted through those that the Europeans. However, tiny parts that the original structure remain, consisting of some that the trapezoidal walls of the spiritual temple. The church itself is likewise one that the most impressive in Cusco.

How come visit: Qoricancha can be explored as part of an comprehensive tour the Cusco, giving a detailed perspective on the convergence that the two great eras, embodied in the former Inca capital. 

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Tipon

A variety of smaller and lesser-visited Inca historical sites room dotted approximately the Andean landscape just outside of Cusco. These encompass the "red fort" that Puca Pucara, the spiritual puma-shaped hueca stone the Qenko and the sacred fountains that Tambomachay.

Water likewise plays vital role in the ruins of Tipon, much less than 20 mile from Cusco. Thought to have served together a walled royal facility and gardens, the site displays sophisticated water channelling, reservoir and also irrigation system. That is rightfully taken into consideration to be one of the many architecturally appealing damages in the sacred Valley region, helped in no small component by the soothing existence of water running throughout.

Tipon is also often linked with one of Peru"s many famous and also unusual delicacies - cuy, an ext commonly well-known to girlfriend or I together guinea pig.

How come visit: Tipon is maybe best combined with a visit to the pre-Inca Wari complex of Pikillacta and also the Jesuit 16th century "Sistine Chapel the the Americas" at Andahuayillas, ~ above a fascinating day pilgrimage from Cusco v three distinct eras that Peruvian history.

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Tipon archaeological site (photo by McKay Savage) 

Raqchi

For our penultimate Inca damage we take the roadway south native Cusco in the direction of the sacred waters of Lake Titicaca, stopping en-route in ~ Raqchi, one of Peru"s lesser-visited archaeological sites. In ~ its heart was a magnificent 15th century temple committed to the all-powerful creator god Viracocha. Today, the main wall that this structure remains, standing high at 12 metres high and stretching some 92 metres long. The stone, mud and also adobe wall gives a clear indication the the majesty and also scale that the temple, believed to have been enclosed by the biggest roof in the Inca empire.

Aside native the temple, Raqchi mirrors vestiges of its other functions, consisting of ceremonial baths, bureaucratic centres, imperial housing and perhaps even military barracks. It was additionally thought to have been an important tambo resting ar on the road to Lake Titicaca.

How to visit: Surrounded by rural farmland, Raqchi is an important and picturesque prevent on the drive between Cusco and also Lake Titicaca. Other stops include the Church that Andahuayillas, the replica Inca, colonial and also suspension bridges that Checacupe, the snow-capped hills of the La Raya pass and also the small town that Pucara, famous for the porcelain bulls.

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Isla del sol & Isla de la Luna, Lake Titicaca

Our final port of speak to on our list of the 10 finest Inca ruins and archaeological sites in reality takes us across the border come Bolivia. Much more specifically, we head come the centre of Lake Titicaca and also the spiritual Isla del solar (Sun Island) and Isla de la Luna (Moon Island).

Believed to it is in the location where Viracocha developed the sun and also the moon and where Inti produced Manco Capaca and Mamo Occlo - the an initial Incas - the sun Island is among the many revered parts of the whole Inca empire. This adulation was encapsulated in a shrine to Viracocha which, along with Qoricancha in Cusco, came to be one the the most important pilgrimage destinations because that the Incas. This and also many various other monuments were sacked and also damaged by the Spanish colonisers, yet today end 80 Inca ruins remain on the island.

Among the most important sites on the northern part of the sunlight Island are the "Rock the the Puma", from wherein the sun rose and from i m sorry the lake may have actually taken its name, the maze-like palace facility of Chincana and the ceremonial stone table, where both human and also animal sacrifices were believed to have been made. On the southerly side we discover the 200 action Inca staircase, leading to the fractional of Youth and likewise the holy place of Pillkukayna, overlooking the strait that Yampupata and Chelleca Island.

The most essential site top top Moon Island is the temple of the liked Virgins that the Sun. This acllahuasi (monastery) housed Inca females who lived nun-like resides in honour that Inti and also who took component in ceremonies the worship.

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How to visit: The Sun and also Moon Islands space visited on catamaran trips native the town of Copacabana, itself house to vital church. This is typically merged with a day invested on the Peruvian next of the lake, visiting the picturesque island of Taquile and the floating Uros Reed Islands.

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Inspired to take your own Peruvian holiday to uncover some the the country"s ideal Inca ruins? See below for a an option of itineraries, which provide in-depth perspectives ~ above life in Inca times and contemporary day Peru, as well as an expedition of several of the country"s best landscapes. Additionally send united state over an email or choose up the call to discuss your very own tailor-made Peruvian adventure!