It was considered one of the main religious temples on the Pacific coast for over 1,200 years, the Pachacamac Sanctuary receives more than 200,000 visitors a year and it’s one of the best things to do in Lima.
This place was a worship center visited by many inhabitants of ancient Peru, in search of spiritual guidance and answers to their doubts since it was believed that the Pachacamac God could predict the future and control the movements of the earth.
This ancient structure is located 50 kilometers away from Lima. According to historians, Pachacamac was the creator of the world and the universe. Etymologically, Pachacamac means “Soul of the Earth,” a name given to a deity of many cultures in Peru during the prehispanic era.
The Pachacamac Temple dates back to the II century and was occupied by many civilizations throughout different periods. However, they all believed in this god, including the Incas, though they actually ‘knew’ the deity under the name of Viracocha.
The history of the famous sanctuary marks the beginning of the religious developments of the Peruvian civilization, which continued to evolve overtime. If you love history as much as we do, then you shouldn’t miss this section! Keep reading and find out everything about this enigmatic structure.
Pachacamac is an archeological site composed of several pyramids made entirely of clay, it is believed to have been built between the 200 B.C. and 200 A.D. However, it’s uncertain to know which culture ordered the construction of the site since throughout its 1,200 years of height it was occupied by different societies.
During the time of this famous ceremonial center, people used to believe in a powerful deity called Pachacamac, who, as aforementioned, was the creator of the entire universe.
This pre-Columbian God was seen as an imposing oracle that was respected and feared by many. It is said that the ones who were allowed inside the shrine used to enter from their back, avoiding eye contact at all costs.
However, it was not represented by a person but an idol made entirely of wood. The religious item was 2.5 meters high and was positioned in a shrine located within the Painted Temple.
A new research suggests that the idol actually did survive the Spanish conquest, and it is the same one that has been in the hands of archaeologists for the past 82 years.
Thanks to the excavations carried out on the site, now we can understand much more about the Temple of Pachacamac. According to its chronological order, here are listed the main civilizations that inhabited this sacred territory:
1. Lima Culture
Although there is no documentation that records the origin of the site, researchers have found evidence that the first civilization to occupy the area was the Lima culture, which developed between the 100 and 600 A.D.
Throughout that time, the Lima society built the ‘Old Temple’ in honor of Urpi Huachac, the mythological wife of the Pachacamac God. They also constructed several small buildings that, most of them, were used as the foundations of other structures built by other civilizations.
2. The Wari Influence
Around the year 600, the Wari culture emerged and just as the Incas did, they incorporated different civilizations in their growing empire, among them, the Lima culture. The influence of the Wari culture in the coastal side of Peru gave the site a great importance.
It was during that time that the Pachacamac people acquired independence and a distinctive identity across these lands. Throughout this period, its inhabitants built a new temple that would house the famous oracle, called ‘Painted Temple’ or ‘Pachacamac Temple.’
3. The Ychsma
During the 900 and 1450 A.D, the Ychsma culture established in these lands, making Pachacamac their principal administrative center. In this period, the Ychsma built around 16 buildings, which archeologists called ‘Pyramids with Ramps.’
4. The Incas
Just after the Ychsma, the famous Inca civilization had established an important administrative and control center on this side of the Peruvian coast. They built another temple on the site for the worship of the Sun God Inti, and also an Allacwasi, also known as the ‘House of the Chosen Women.’
However, with the arrival of the Spanish conquerors, the site was abandoned though some priests stayed in the temple. Once the Spaniards captured Atahualpa, they visited the shrine to collect the gold asked for his release, nonetheless, they felt offended for what they had found and burned down the entire site.
The Pachacamac ruins have an area of 465,32 ha. and comprehend several attractions, some of them are well-preserved, whilst others are in poor conditions due to time erosion and man action. However, here we have listed the most significant structures within the temple:
- Temple of the Sun
It is the most imposing construction erected by the Incas within the archeological complex. The site was intended for the worshipping of the Sun God and it rises up to 40 meters from ground level.
- Temple of the Moon or Acllahuasi
It was also from the Inca period, a place built as the house of the acllas, who were the ‘chosen’ women that served the Incas. The Allachuasi is the most representative structure of the Incas on the site since it has their distinctive architectural style.
- Old Temple
As the name says, it is the oldest building of the Lima culture. However, it is currently in ruins though you can still see its contingency wall.
- Painted Temple
As aforementioned, it was built during the Wari period. Its characteristic name comes from its walls since they were painted of a reddish color and some parts of its sectors had multicolored figures of fishes, marine animals, and plants.
- Tauri Chumpi Building
It was the place where, presumably, the last local governor of the Inca period stayed.
- Regional Nunciatures
It was a set of pyramids with ramps, from the Ichma culture. This civilization built about 16 pyramidal buildings and some of them date back to the 1100 A.D.
- Pilgrims' Square
It is a large leveled rectangular space, located in front of the west side of the Temple of the Sun. It dates from the Inca period and potentially served as a prelude for the pilgrims who were going to consult the oracle of Pachacamac.
Currently, the Archeological Site of Pachacamac remains as a paid tourist attraction, and you can easily visit it from Lima. However, if you wish to see this historical monument, we highly recommend taking a guided tour.
The famous worship center comprehends many mysteries and details that you certainly can’t miss. For that reason, if you go on your own, you won’t be able to fully appreciate the history of the place. Luckily for you, we have a special guided tour to pachacamac, where you’ll get to uncover the enigma of the temple and much more!
The Pachamac Tour isn't the only full-day excursion to take from the capital of Peru, we want you to have the best alternatives, which is why we have gathered the best day trips from Lima so you can make the most of your experience.
- Operating Hours: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 10:00 h. to 15:00 h. - First Sunday of every month from 10:00 h. to 15:00 h.
- Entrance: Adults S/. 15.00 - Children S/. 1.00
Would you like to know more about the civilizations that marked our country? Dare to uncover the mysteries of our lands with Viagens Machu Picchu and explore Lima like a real expert!