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Home >> Peru Cities >> Cusco Travel Information >> Tipon Pikillaqta Andahuaylillas



It is a National Archaeological Park located toward the east of Qosqo City; covering a territory of about 2200 hectares (5436 acres) in the Oropesa district, province of Quispicanchis. In order to get the main archaeological monument there is a 5 Km. (3 mile) dusty road from kilometer 18 (mile 11.2) of the road Cusco-Puno, towards the north and crossing the "Watanay" rivulet. A half kilometer away from the paved road is the small village of Tipón where an extraordinary colonial abode stands out. The abode is part of the Qespikancha hamlet that was property of the De San Lorenzo de Valle Umbroso Marquises (1650 -1802). It is without any doubt, the most important countryside monument inherited from colonial times but nowadays is completely abandoned. The original Quechua name of the whole Park is lost, and today it has diverse groups, standing out the sector where some Inkan "royal inclosures" are found. According to Victor Angles those inclosures were made built by Inka Wiraqocha as a dwelling and refuge for his father Yawar Wakaq after his flight in the war against the Chankas. That group is found in a slight and warm ravine at an altitude of 3500 mts. (11480 Ft.). Besides, the terracing found over here is very impressive, it contains 12 very fertile terraces that are still cultivated, and their retaining walls were built with well carved stones. Even more impressive is the irrigation system that is still serving agriculture and was made taking advantage of the water spring existing in the spot. It has carved stone channels, precisely calculated and sometimes with almost vertical falls that all together constitute a hydraulic engineering master work. Likewise, there are some fountains that must had ceremonial duties.

Because of its location and the presence of a surrounding wall Tipón must have been a very exclusive site, interdependent with some other sectors that today have divers names, among which are "Intiwatana" toward the West, "Pukutuyoq", "Pukara", "Hatun Wayk'o", etc. Towards the group's southwest, in the almost vertical mountain surface is the cemetery named "Pitopuqyo" that today has rows of looted tombs. It is worth mentioning that all over the park there is a huge amount of different cultural vestiges, including thousands of surface broken ceramic pieces.

It constitutes a National Archaeological Park, including many other surrounding archaeological sites. It covers an area of 3421 hectares (8453 acres), and is located in the Quispicanchis province, toward the east of Qosqo City and about 32 Kms. (20 miles) away by the present-day paved road leading to Puno and Arequipa. It contains a territory in the districts of Oropeza, Lucre and Andahuaylillas, near the Wakarpay lagoon that is at an altitude of about 3200 mts. (10500 Ft.). In the Peruvian Andes there are about 12000 small lakes like Wakarpay, almost all of them with very rich flora and fauna; they normally have a lot of totora reeds that is the environment for wild ducks of diverse species, geese, flamingoes, etc. and fish among which trout and king-fish stand out.

" Pikillaqta" is a compound Quechua word meaning "lousy town" (piki = louse; llaqta = town); however, that is not the original name of the zone or the main site. Today, its Inkan and previous names are unknown; though, when referring to this zone or the lagoon many chroniclers insinuate the names "Muyuna" (curve or turn), "Muyna" or "Mohina". It seems that the site began being called "Pikillaqta" since the last years of the colonial epoch or by the beginning of the republic; its reason is unknown.

The pre-Hispanic site of Pikillaqta is located over 3350 mts. (11000 Ft.) and belonged to a satellite city of the Wari Culture developed in the present-day Ayacucho department. The Wari Culture is a blend of cultural elements of the Warpa, Nazca and Tiawanako civilizations. It undertook the start of its territorial expansion and then the Wari invasion of the Qosqo valley toward the year 750 AD; being developed approximately until 1200 AD. Everything indicates that by the beginning of the Inkan development the Waris were defeated in this region, conquered and absorbed, and their city was reused for the Tawantinsuyo's interests. Today that pre-Inkan City contains approximately 700 buildings, 200 "kanchas" (apartments) and 504 "qolqas" (storehouses) and different buildings. It must have had a population of about 10 thousand people. The city has a very harmonious and almost perfect geometrical design, divided in blocks with straight streets. Archaeologist Mc. Ewan states that over here existed various complementary sectors: administrative, ceremonial, urban, defensive and a road system. Its buildings had 2 and even 3 stories, with high walls made with mud bonded stones; the walls were wide by the base and narrower by the top. According to studies carried out by the team leaded by Gordon Mc. Ewan by the beginning of the 90s, those walls were originally covered with a coat of mud of 9 cm. and whitened with gypsum; likewise, the floors were made with a thick coat of gypsum, being thus demonstrated that by 750 AD that was a white city. The rooms were narrow, surely adapted to the length of the timber available in the region for division of the stories. The ground surface that is seen today belongs mainly to the beginning of the second stories, the first floors being covered by stones and all the material of the upper floors that fell off as centuries passed. In 1927, Justo Roman Aparicio, practicing archaeological diggings in this spot found 40 turquoise micro-sculptures that are exhibited in the Qosqo's Archaeological Museum. Subsequently Luis A. Pardo found a stone sculpture representing a puma (mountain lion) in natural size. Many scholars suggest that in Inkan times, Pikillaqta was used as a city for "mitimaes", that is, whole nations or tribes displaced from their original lands.

Nowadays, there is no water in the city; the Wakarpay lagoon is about 1 km. (0.62 mile) away from the spot and in a lower level with a difference of about 150 mts. (492 Ft.). However, in ancient times they had a lot of water in the town. There is a very old tradition that Alfonsina Barrionuevo summarizes telling that once a beautiful princess named Qori T'ika (Golden Flower) lived in this site that had no water and its fields flowered just in the rainy season; once that she got her majority and willing to help her people decided to offer her love to whoever could get water for Pikillaqta. The offer was responded to by three young princes: Paukar who was Qolla (from the "Qollao" or Altiplano), Tuyasta that was Canchi (from the Canchis province) and Sunqo Rumi who was Quechua. The first one, accustomed to altitudes made the aqueduct over the mountain and could not arrive to the city. The second one, a man of lower regions made the aqueduct surrounding the mountain skirts and could not fulfill the will of the princess either. The Cusquenian, born at middle altitude could perform the great work of hydraulic engineering and gave the precious water for the city, conquering thus the love of Qori T'ika. Even today, it is possible to see by the middle of the opposite mountain (on the other side of the lagoon and to the eastern side of the Lucre town), two horizontal parallel lines that are two of the three aqueducts built by the pretenders. Only the upper one of those two channels arrived as far as Pikillaqta, going over about 10 Kms. (6.2 miles) from its harnessing spot.

The park includes some other interesting groups such as Choquepuqyo, Kañaraqay, Minaspata, Amarupata, Salitriyuq, Tamboraqay, Qaranqayniyuq, Rayallaqta, etc. Toward the lagoon's eastern end, there are many farming terraces in the rocky face of the mountain; and in its lower part are some modern buildings that are used as a lodge for occasional visitors, they were built over the Urpikancha (Dove's Palace) that is supposed to be the Inka Waskar's birth place.

Advancing towards the east of Pikillaqta is a great wall that on its upper side had the aqueduct that furnished water for the pre-Columbian City. Today, in that wall there are also remains of two imposing Inkan gates named Rumiqollqa Gates that in their epoch served for checking the people arriving to Qosqo, besides serving as a customs site. It is known that over here, inhabitants of the vast empire willing to visit the great capital had to drop the offerings prepared during their lifetimes. It is also known that in Inkan times Qosqo City for the Quechuas was something like "Mecca" for Moslems. Thus, every Tawantinsuyo inhabitant had as a supreme dream to visit the "puma city" at least once in his lifetime. Just visiting the city gave people a superior status, and for example, if on a far away road two persons met traveling in opposing ways, the person who had already visited Qosqo was recognized, greeted and respected by the other who had not visited it yet.

Even farther east, on Kilometer 35 (mile 22) of the paved road is the famous Rumiqolqa Quarry (rumi = stone, qolqa = storehouse) that in Inkan times served for extraction of the andesites used for the most important buildings in Qosqo. Today, the quarry is still exploited, therefore, the Inkan works and substructures are completely disturbed.

It is a Quispicanchis province's district, about 40 Kms. (25 miles) east from Qosqo and at an altitude of 3100 mts. (10170 Ft.). Its ancient name was Antawaylla (anta = cooper, waylla = prairie) which is translated as "coppery prairie". The name was later Spanished into "Andahuaylas"; but as a bigger province having the same name existing in the Apurimac department, its name was transformed in a diminutive way for avoiding confusions. Andahuaylillas is a very welcoming small town, with a healthy warm climate as consequence of being surrounded by mountains on the left bank of the "Vilcanota" river that in lower regions is named "Urubamba". Its lands have a privileged fertility and its people are tranquil and friendly.

On its vast Main Plaza adorned with "pisonay" (coral trees) and palm trees is its most valuable jewel: the Andahuaylillas colonial church. The church is considered to be the "Sistine Chapel" of the Americas, because of the quality of the artworks found inside it. This church must have been built over some important Inkan building, possibly a "Waka" (shrine), as bases of the church were made with carved andesites belonging to religious Quechua architecture. Besides, in the surroundings there are remains of Inkan buildings, standing out a gate of transitional architecture (transition between Inkan to colonial) on the church's western side with two quadruped's sculptures on its lintel. Those were the Jesuits who constructed the church by the end of the XVI century, with sun-dried mud-brick very wide walls, very common in colonial buildings. Its relatively modest architectonic structure is classic in small town churches. It has just one upper bell tower, a facade adorned with murals, and two strong projecting stone columns between which is the main gate; over that gate is an ancient balcony behind which there are more murals.

Inside the one-nave church there are two different sections corresponding to the two stages of its construction; they are separated by the present interior main arch. The oldest and most adorned of mudejar style (architectonic style mixing Arab and Christian elements, developed between the XIII to XVI centuries) is found deeper inside where the High Altar is. The newest section is toward the entrance. That is the reason why this church has two pulpits, the oldest is under the interior arch and the latter on the opposite wall farther out. It is impressive the amount of murals covering the walls and especially the ceiling with geometrical patterns and flowers adorned with gold flakes. The High Altar is baroque, carved in cedar-wood and gilded with gold flakes; in the center of this altar is the effigy of the "Rosary Virgin". Its tabernacle is covered with plates of beaten silver and it also has a lower mirror area placed in order to reflect the light of candles as well as light entering through the gate for helping interior illumination. Deep inside, at one side of the High Altar is the vestry that has ancient trunks in which the priests' clothing and chasubles embroidered with precious metals are kept; that vestry also kept very interesting gold and silver jewelry that were stolen in 1992 but never recovered. More over, there are also some other altars and lateral chapels, and on the upper side of the central area an interesting collection of anonymous canvases of the Cusquenian School representing the life of Saint Peter, with impressive gilded frames. Over the interior arch is a painting representing the "Virgin of the Assumption" attributed to the Spanish painter Esteban Murillo.

Entering the church through its main gate, towards the left side is the baptistery; around its entrance is the writing "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen"; what is interesting is that the writing is in five languages spoken at the time when the church was built: Latin, Spanish, Quechua, Pukina and Aymara (today Pukina is an extinct language). On the surface behind the facade, that is, inside the church, on both sides of the gate are murals representing a crowded and attractive profane path leading to hell and another virtuous towards heaven.

Outside, on the western side of the church's front patio are three big crosses sculpted in andesite; the central one is the biggest and they represent the Holy Trinity of Catholicism, that is, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Continuing the route toward the east of the city, by the road toward Puno, in Km. 125 is the Raqchi village which belongs to the district of San Pedro de Cacha, province of Canchis. Raqchi is found on the right bank of the Vilcanota River, at an altitude of 3500 mts. (11500 ft.). Apparently its pre-Hispanic name was "Cacha" and not "Raqchi", name which the origins and right pronunciation are unknown. The evidences indicate that Raqchi was a complex village with multiple constructions for various purposes; including farming terraces, "kanchas" (apartments), "wayranas" (buildings having only 3 walls), "qolqas" (storehouses), different shrines, religious water fountains, etc. Possibly, it was an important "tambo" in the route toward the "Collasuyo". The most important building within the complex is the "Wiraqocha Temple", that according to ancient chroniclers was made built by Inka Wiraqocha in homage to the Superior Invisible God of Andean people: "Apu Kon Titi Wiraqocha". Pedro Cieza de Leon collected the tradition telling that the shrine was built after the appearance in this place of a man who began performing miracles, and the village inhabitants had decided to stone him to death; but when going in search of that strange man they found him knelt with his arms extended skyward and immediately after a fire rain fell. Thus, those remorseful men left him free; that strange man was gone toward the coast and got submerged into the ocean waters disappearing forever. Thereafter, construction of a shrine in his memory was decided as well as the sculpture of a stone idol that according to some conquerors that saw it, must had been the image of some Christian apostle that came through these lands. Concerning to the fire rain, it is possible that it referred to some eruption of the presently extinguished volcano "Kinsach'ata" located by the surroundings; there is a great quantity of dried lava (volcanic rock) all around the zone.

The "Wiraqocha Temple" is a grandiose construction for its era. Architectonically it is classified as "kallanka"; that is, a large building completely covered with a thatched roofing (wood and "ichu"); it is outwardly 92 m. (302 ft.) long and 25.25 m. (83 ft.) wide. Its central wall is manufactured with very well carved stones in the base for a height of about 3 m. and adobes (sun-dried mud-bricks) upwards, it has 1.65 m. of thickness by the base and it had about 1.30 m. by the upper part. Today that wall has 12 m. of height, a century ago it had 15 m. and according to a hypothetical reconstruction consigned by Santiago Agurto originally it must have reached 16.60 m. Its lateral walls had 1.20 m. of thickness and they must have reached about 3 m. of height. Its roofing must have been impressive covering almost 2500 m² with its slope inclination of about 50°. There were circular columns which bases are still found between the central wall and the lateral ones for supporting the roof; those columns had 1.60 m. of diameter and about 9.80 m. of height.

Furthermore, in this same site there are some other very important sectors with remains of "wayranas" and a great amount of "qolqas" with walls of "pirka" type.



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