Located 85 km from Cuenca and dating back more than 500 years, Ingapirca is an Inca archaeological site rising 3,200 m above sea level on the slopes of a mountain overlooking a few houses and vast plots of land devoted to agriculture and livestock.

Origins of Ingapirca

History has it that Huayna Cápac is credited with building Ingapirca. The archeological site of Ingapirca was once a remarkable place, influenced by both the Cañaris, the Amerindians who once lived here, and the Incas, who settled here a little later. However, after the arrival of the Incas, the area was strongly marked by their presence. Although this Inca archaeological site has only been accessible to tourists since 1966, it was first described in 1739 by Charles Marie de La Condamine.

Witness to Ecuador's Inca past

Though modest in size, Ingapirca is nonetheless the most important silent witness to the Inca presence in Ecuador. The ruins are built around a central platform that probably served as a place of worship and is therefore known as the Temple of the Sun. All around are the ruins of numerous buildings, between which can be seen staircases and trapezoidal doorways, typical of Inca architecture. These doors are more resistant to earthquakes than rectangular ones. All the stones on the site are so meticulously arranged against each other that visitors believe they support each other without any bond between them. However, if you look closely, you’ll see that an excessively thin substance is placed between the stones to bind them together.

Only the Temple of the Sun has survived the weight of time, and the exceptional solidity of this construction can be appreciated by noting that a good layer of mortar exists between the stones of the other remains that make up this site, now restored. Around the site, the remains of burials dating from this period have recently been discovered, and the excavations that continue from time to time will undoubtedly uncover others. These ruins are reminiscent of a military fortress or religious site, but their real significance still eludes historians and archaeologists, who remain perplexed and confused about them. They don’t compare with the famous ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru, but they’re sure to delight lovers of history and old stones.


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