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Pisaq: The archaeological remains built around the mountains

09 October 2014

The Sacred Valley of the Incas comprises the valleys connected by the Urubamba river between Pisac and Ollantaytambo. Pisac is the gateway to the Sacred Valley and located in the Yucay Valley on the shores of the river, its elevation is 2950 meters. This Andean village is famous for its Artisan Market on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays but even more so for its beautiful Inca ruins - Inca Pisac - built high up in the mountains at an elevation of 3300 meters. We visited Pisac on a Tuesday, the perfect day to combine a visit to the ruins with strolling around the market.

 

We were in Urubamba's bus terminal around 7:30 am and took straight away the bus to Pisac (3 Peruvian Soles per person one way). About one hour later, we arrived in Pisac where we had breakfast in Ulrike's Cafe. After breakfast, we visited the Artisan Market where you can buy anything from woven scarves to pan flutes. I saw this cute little girl with her puppy sitting on the side of the street and wondered what she was thinking ... I could unfortunately not talk to her as I do understand some Spanish but my Spanish speaking skills are little to non existing. 

 

The ruins can be reached either by foot or by taking a taxi up. As we wanted to prepare for the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, we decided to hike up. The hiking trail to the ruins starts behind the market and is easy recognizable by the sign "Parque Arqueologico de Pisaq", admission fee is with Boleto Turistico. The path - clearly marked with white arrows - runs along some beautiful terraces after which it goes up quite steeply. After  an exhausting climb of about an hour we reached the first ruins, the Pisaqa ruins or the residential area. The Inca Pisac ruins consists of four main parts being Pisaqa, Intihuatana, Q'allaqasa and Qanchisracay. When you go up with a taxi instead of taking the hiking trail, you will end up on the other end of Inca Pisac and see the Qanchisracay ruins first. 

 

We continued climbing till we reached the Intihuatana ruins which I thought were the most beautiful ones. Intihuatana or Intiwatana was a sacred religious place with ritual baths and several temples including the temple of the sun. You get the best view over these impressive ruins from higher up. The path continues over another mountain top and runs through a little tunnel after which the Q'allaqasa ruins are located.

The Q'allaqasa ruins were probably storehouses as the buildings are of lesser quality compared to the other ruins. From the top of the ruins, you get a stunning view over the valley and the Qanchisracay ruins. Back down we continued the trail through the Amarupunku doorway to the Tankanamarka cemetery. From there we hiked to the Qanchisracay ruins which was the military sector. The entire way, we heard someone playing the flute. Hiking around in these mountains, passing all these impressive ruins and at the same time hearing the beautiful sound of a flute ... what an incredible and mystical experience. 

 

From Qanchisracay we hiked down and took the trail along the mountain flank to the Pisaqa area from where we took the same hiking path back to Pisac. The visit including hiking both ways took us about 4 hours. In Pisac, we had a delicious lunch on the rooftop terrace of Ulrike's Cafe (20 Peruvian Soles for a 3 course lunch) after which we took the bus back to Urubamba.  - See more at: 

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