If you’re planning a trip to Peru, you surely have read about the Incas and their powerful empire. This ancient civilization was recognized for its organization and engineering knowledge. The Incas surely left a mark in our country, where traditions, beliefs and astonishing structures solely define the evolution of our ancestors.
Maras and Moray are two of the most impressive examples of Inca hydraulic and agricultural engineering. These archeological sites offer a glimpse at what life was like during the pre-Columbian era, a historical and cultural experience that you can’t miss during your trip!
For those who didn’t know, Maras is composed of a group of over 3,000 salt ponds that have been in current use since hundreds of years ago. The Maras Salt Mines are worked by locals only, a family business run through generations.
On the other hand, Moray is an agricultural center composed of several circular terraces built by the Incas, which allowed them to create different microclimates and cultivate many different plant species. Each terrace is fed by a complex water irrigation channel, allowing constant and regulated water supply to the crops.
Would you like to know more? Continue reading and learn everything about these impressive engineering works in the heart of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Long before the Incas arrived to these flourishing lands, the Sacred Valley was previously inhabited by the Maras and Ayamarcas cultures. The Ayamarca people were one of the principal adversaries of the growing Quechua civilization, but they eventually got incorporated into the Inca Empire.
Once the Incas gained control over these lands, they started building important settlements like Ollantaytambo and Pisac. Moray was later constructed with the presumably purpose of an agricultural and ceremonial center.
As we mentioned before, it consists of three groups of circular terraces, strategically built to create a variety of microclimates and experiment with endemic crops in the region.
However, it is known that Moray could not cover a large food demand since its annual production was able to satisfy the nutritional requirements of only 45 people.
It is uncertain to know if the archeological site was being worked on during the arrival of the Spaniards though evidence point out that it was abandoned long before that.
Likewise, the renowned anthropologist John Earls carried out investigations and held that Moray was indeed an experimental agricultural center, where the Incas managed to cultivate over 250 plant species.
Located 50 kilometers away from Cusco, at an elevation of 3,200 meters above sea level right at the cliffside of the Qaqahuiñay mountain near the Salineras reek. The salt mines were constructed hundreds of years ago, presumably by the Huari culture between 500 and 1100 A.D. and have been worked ever since.
Each salt pond has an area of approximately 5 square meters, there are over 3,000 salt mines spreaded across the cliffside and are worked by local families only, each family owning up to 5 wells.
When the Incas took over the Cusqueñan lands, they took advantage of the salt mines and incorporated it into their daily lives, using the salt to season their food, mummifications and other religious ceremonies.
The Incas perfected the salt extraction over the years, a tradition that has been passed by generations to generations until the current date.
The salt mines are fed by an underground saltwater stream that originates from the Qoripujio mountain. The ancient Peruvians constructed irrigation channels to fill each salt pond, controlling minutiously.
Once the salt mines are full of water, they close the channels and wait for the water to evaporate. Salt stays at the bottom of the well and it’s later extracted with wooden shovels and rakes. Locals do this every month, but the most suitable production period is during the dry season.
- Pink Maras Salt are the best seasoning option for people that suffer from hypertension
- The Maras Salt is recognized for its mineral-rich composition.
- It is the perfect natural medicine to treat skin conditions and swelling.
It’s best to incorporate Maras Salt into your meals after cooking so you can take advantage of these benefits since it loses its medicinal properties while being exposed to temperatures over 40°C.
These famous attractions are located a few kilometers away from Cusco, right at the heart of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. If you wish to visit this picturesque town, we highly recommend you to do so on a guided tour, that way you won’t miss anything of this special adventure.
Luckily for you, we have a special itinerary where you can visit this and other attractions before boarding the train to Machu Picchu. The Maras & Moray Tour will take you on a cultural and historical journey across the Andes in Peru.
Are you ready to experience Cusco at its fullest? Viagens Machu Picchu provides everything so you just have to worry about relaxing and having fun! Get to know our special deals in Peru travel packages while you’re here.