During Inca times, the Imperial City of Cusco was the most important settlement of this civilization. Therefore, they created several citadels, fortresses, ceremonial centers, and more in the so-called Navel of the World.
The Inca architecture has been admired since colonial times, and those structures that weren't entirely destroyed by the Spanish conquerors have remained as a prevailing legacy of their ancestral knowledge.
Thereby, Raqchi is one of these examples of Inca engineering. However, the archeological site was dismantled during the colonization process and only part of it has withstood centuries of earthquakes and time deterioration.
Nowadays, the site is part of the Ruta del Sol circuit, composed of outstanding attractions like Pikillacta and Tipon. And though what’s left of Raqchi is barely a glimpse of what the original structure could have been, some archeologists have deducted a few important things about the complex.
Likewise, there’s a constant debate about the origin of this massive structure, where many archeologists theorize that it could have been a pre-Inca settlement that later was adapted according to the beliefs and needs of the famous civilization.
Here we have gathered important information about the archeological site, where we’ll uncover the mysteries involved in this ancient construction. Keep reading and find out everything about the Temple of Raqchi.
Due to its massive structure, Raqchi is considered one of the most important ceremonial centers of the Incas. The site covers about 1,000 ha. and it was composed of a 2-story building, potentially dedicated to ceremonial purposes.
Thanks to further research, now we have more information about the actual purpose of this ancient temple. First of all, it is known as the Temple of Wiracocha, the principal deity of the Andean cosmovision, “the creator of the universe.”
According to some chroniclers, the temple was built due to a miracle involving the aforementioned god. The story says that Wiracocha came to these lands but people didn’t receive him properly, they actually ran to him with weapons and tried to kill him.
Therefore, Wiracocha felt obliged to impose respect by conjuring a “rain of fire” that covered the whole precinct, making the natives surrender. Apparently, that community was a pre-Inca civilization called Canas.
To understand this in a better way, we need to point out that the Archaeological Site of Raqchi is located near the Quimsachata volcano, one of the active volcanoes of the Peruvian Andean region. Therefore, it could have been the cause of the so-called “rain of fire.”
According to the Wiracocha Temple, a theory points out that the ceremonial center’s construction was ordered by the Inca Pachacutec. Whilst other historians believe that it was the Inca Viracocha who built it looking to resemble the place where the deity appeared to him.
However, it is uncertain to know which is the origin of Raqchi, but recent excavations have shown evidence of a pre-Inca occupation of the site, involving the Marcavalle, Pucará, and Wari cultures. Once the Incas gained control over the Cusqueñan lands, the precinct was accommodated and later constructed the Raqchi Temple.
Although we’d love to have a full interpretation of the site, it is uncertain to know its main purpose. Raqchi could have been a religious and administrative center, but some other archeologists say that there was a close relationship between its use as a worship center and the production of ceramic and woven objects.
Nonetheless, there’s one thing that we know for sure! The Inca archaeological site was part of the Qhapaq Ñan, a pre-Columbian 30,000 km trail network that connected the whole Inca Empire. It is commonly known as the Inca Trail.
As aforementioned, the famous Inca ruin has an extension of 1,000 ha. It is of great importance due to its architectural style, and the legacy it left behind. The Temple of Raqchi is divided into several sections, here are the most important:
• The Wiracocha Temple: Currently, there’s only a couple of walls and columns left of its structure, which are made of adobe with a high-quality carved stone base with an elevation of over 10 meters. Unfortunately, the site was almost entirely destroyed by the Spaniards, but a great part of it has survived centuries of seismic activity and man action.
• The Major Inca Temple: It is a construction with similar characteristics to the Temple of Wiracocha. Its walls have proportions similar to the main temple. Only one of the eleven cylindrical columns has survived. Only the walls’ foundations are visible thanks to a recent excavation.
• Colcas: The Colcas were warehouses of food products such as corn, quinoa, potatoes and chuño. There are an average of 200 colcas, which have a circular shape and are arranged along the axis of the main temple.
• Water Fountains: It is an esplanade located at the east of the main temple, where its walls are thoughtfully constructed to provide water from a nearby spring. Here is the so-called 'Baños del Inca,' which stands out for its finely carved stone.
Raqchi is located in the San Pedro de Cacha province in Cusco, at 3,550 meters above sea level. It takes about two hours to get there by car. If you’re planning to do this on your own, keep in mind that you will need to hire a certified taxi for a round trip ride since transport is nearly limited in this area.
However, we advise you to take a tour where you’ll get to visit this and even more attractions between the South Valley and Puno. Luckily for you, we have an excursion to those pre-Inca and Inca settlements called Ruta del Sol.
In this opportunity, you’ll get to visit several historical monuments including the so-called Temple of Wiracocha on the way to Puno. Dare to uncover the mysteries of the Andean highlands, and learn even more about the civilizations that marked our country. Find out everything about it with this travel package.
- Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday from 07:00h to 18:00h.
- Entrance: The Touristic Ticket is needed to enter the archeological site, it includes most of the sights within the Cusco region. (Ticket included in all our packages).
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