Tierras Vivas
A Whole World of Experience
+51 984 004 472

How to visit Pachacamac, the largest archaeological site in Lima

Home / Travel Blog / How to visit Pachacamac, the largest archaeological site in Lima
How to visit Pachacamac, the largest archaeological site in Lima

It is one of the most important archaeological sites on the Peruvian coast. With an extension of more than 465 hectares, it began to be built at the beginning of our era and its use was uninterrupted for about 1500 years until the arrival of the Spanish conquerors in 1533. Here we can find evidence of four different cultures: Lima, Wari . Ychma and Inca; being the Ychmas, who carried out most of the constructions that are seen today in the place, highlighting their pyramids with ramps. It has an excellent site museum and a huge number of ancient structures including temples, palaces, pyramids, aqueducts, cemeteries, squares, streets, etc. It was the abode of one of the most feared divinities of ancient Peru known as Pachacamac, the one who had the power to move the earth and cause earthquakes, whose idol was found in the place and is exhibited in the museum. 

If you want to make a special tour and access areas where almost no one enters, request the so-called "special visit" at the ticket office. On this tour you will see the most important street in Pachacamac, as well as one of the 16 pyramids with a ramp and several other places. For this it is mandatory to hire one of the guides of the place which has a cost apart from the payment of the entrance ticket and the tour is completely on foot.

Where is Pachacamac located?

Pachacamac is an archaeological site located on the right bank of the Lurín River, District of the same name. 

On one side of the ruins, we can see the Pacific Ocean, and on the other, the green fields that are part of the Lima Polo Club, a place where the rich and famous of Peruvian entertainment meet. 

Thus, the site is located at kilometer 31.5 of the Antigua Carretera Panamericana Sur (the old Pan-American highway) in the Lurín Valley, Lima.

Etymology

Pachacamac was a god belonging to Inca mythology, whose worship was rendered from his site built on the coast at the same time as Machu Picchu in the mountains. 

The word Pachacamac means "Soul of the earth, the one who animates the world", he was a divinity for the communities. 

History of Pachacamac

Long before the arrival of the Incas, Pachacamac was inhabited by the Ichma culture, who built 16 of the complex's pyramids. Later, the Huari culture was responsible for rebuilding the place, to use it as an administrative center.

It should be noted that the ancients settled in this area for more than 3,000 years due to the ease of using the water and the land. 

Thus, the construction of the Pachacamac sanctuary began around the year 200 AD. and each culture that inhabited it later added new temples. The complex reached an area of just over 80 hectares. 

When the Inca civilization finally arrived, they built a huge Temple of the Sun (30,000 square meters), as well as a house for young priestesses. Some pyramids were the homes of priests and nobles. 

The complex was active for at least 1,300 years, until the arrival of the Spanish. Archaeologists began studying the site in the 1890s and found a large complex of adobe buildings that included temples, pyramids, plazas, and looted burial sites. 

Finally, in 2012, 80 mummies were found, as well as jewelry and ceramic pieces, many of which are exhibited in the site Museum of the establishment.

Legend of Pachacamac

According to this legend, there was a beautiful woman, Cavillaca, who was wanted by the gods. As she was not fooled by any, the god Wiracocha became a bird and spread her seed on a fruit tree. She, by eating the fruit, became pregnant. No one knew who the father of the woman's daughter was, until the girl was asked to recognize her father, and she recognized the god Wiracocha. 

The god, to go unnoticed, had dressed in rags, so the woman thought that a poor ragged man was the father of her daughter and she felt so upset that she went to the ocean to kill herself with the little girl. The god tried to stop her, revealing who she was, but she no longer wanted to know anything and when they got into the sea they ended up turned into stone due to her vanity.

Why visit the ruins of the Pachacamac sanctuary?

Although the surroundings of the Pachacamac ruins remind us that Lima is an arid city, the dusty streets near the sanctuary offer a stark contrast to the green and modern district of Miraflores. 

However, Pachacamac is one of the most important archaeological sites in Peru, since in it we find 16 pyramids gathered. Its historical importance is due to the fact that it was the main sanctuary of the natives for more than 1300 years. 

Historians and archaeologists have concluded that pilgrims from different areas came here asking for advice and omens from the oracle called Huaca. 

In view of these qualities, visiting the pre-Inca ruins of Pachacamac is an essential stop for those who wish to live a much closer experience with the history and culture of Peru. 

What can you see in Pachacamac?

Currently, the ruins of the Pachacamac sanctuary on the central coast contain more than 50 temples and other buildings, making it one of the largest complexes in the city of Lima. 

The tour begins with a visit to the ceremonial area, where the Temple of the Sun, the Painted Temple and the Old Temple are located. 

Then, you can visit the administrative area that is made up of 16 pyramids and structures such as the Plaza de los Peregrinos and the Taurichumpi and Acllawasi buildings. 

According to archaeologists, the pyramids were, in fact, palaces for the rulers of Ichma and not a place of worship as had been thought for many years. 

A third area is simpler in its architecture and was probably used to house the pilgrims who came to the area to worship the god Pacha Kamaq, ask for his advice, make all kinds of inquiries, and omens. 

Pachacamac Site Museum

Inaugurated in 2016, the new Pachacamac Site Museum is one of the most emblematic buildings in Peru, as its construction simulates the ramps and walkways that surrounded the complex in ancient times, but with a modern touch. 

Through it, visitors can tour the area and contemplate the enclosure with a better perspective. 

The museum has around 277 objects on display for visitors, including the idol of Pachacamac, which was discovered in 1938 and is one of the most important archaeological finds on the continent.

Which sections are open to the public?

The Temple of the Sun: it was erected by the Incas to worship the Sun god. It is one of the most important and best preserved buildings.

The Old Temple: it is currently in ruins. It was built by the Lima culture before the Incas, and is the oldest construction on the site. It was built by small sun-dried adobe bricks.

The Temple of the Moon: it is also of Inca origin. It was restored by a Peruvian anthropologist. They also call it "Sanctuary of the Pachamama". The "chosen women" stayed there to serve the Inca or the Sun god.

The Painted Palace: belonged to the Huari culture. It is also known as the Temple of Pachacamac. It is a stepped pyramid of 100 x 50 meters, with a stone base and an upper structure of adobe bricks.

The pyramids: it is a set of 16 pyramids with ramps built by the Ichma culture. They are poorly preserved, so we can only appreciate their ruins.

The Plaza de los Peregrinos: it is a rectangular-shaped space next to the Temple of the Sun. It is believed that it was the antechamber for the pilgrims who were going to consult the oracle of Pachacamac.

Touring the Archaeological Complex of Pachacamac

The archaeological site of Pachacamac is practically a city where you will find well defined streets, squares, temples, palaces and structures built with adobe and stone. 

In the highest area is the "Temple of the Sun"; From here you can fully observe the entire archaeological complex and you will also have an impressive view of the Lurín valley and the sea. 

The complete tour on foot can be done in approximately 2 hours (6 km.). In this case, I recommend you wear comfortable shoes or trekking shoes, since the trail is totally dirt. In summer or on sunny days, bring plenty of water, a hat, and sunscreen. 

If you don't like to walk a lot, you also have the option of doing almost the entire route in your own car, except for the upper area where the temple of the sun is located. 

Pachacamac by bicycle

Finally, if you want to get to know the Sanctuary in a different way, on weekends enjoy the "Bicitour Pachacamac" program, where you can take the bike tour accompanied by young people from the community who will show you the route; an original and fun way for the whole family. If you want to take your bicycle, do not forget to make a reservation beforehand, but if you do not have one, do not worry, the complex will give you one for free.

Schedule

  • Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (by reservation, see link below)
  • First Sunday of the month from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (by reservation, see link below)
  • Ticket cost
  • Adults S/ 15.00
  • Higher Education Students S/ 5.00
  • Children (from 3 to 17 years old) S/ 1.00
  • Children under 3 years free admission
  • Visit special circuit S/ 20.00 (per person)
  • 50% discount on the value of the adult ticket for active military, over 60 years, active teachers
  • 50% discount for people with disabilities, on the value of the ticket of the corresponding category

Additional services

  • Guide service S/ 30.00
  • Wheelchair access inside the museum
  • Cafeteria
  • Book, souvenir and craft shop

Recommendations

  • Much of the trail is outdoors. If you go in summer it is recommended to bring water, a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. If you go in winter it can be windy, so it is also recommended to bring something warm.
  • Be sure to wear comfortable shoes that can get dirty, as the paths are dirt or gravel.
  • Do not forget to always respect the trails and the indications of the guides and guards.
  • It is strictly forbidden to climb the walls or paint.
  • Do not collect or extract archaeological material from the site.
  • Due to the size of the place, cars and light vehicles are allowed to enter, but the tour can also be done on foot.
  • If you hire a taxi or other similar service to get to Pachacamac, it is recommended that you also reserve it for the return, since when you leave it will be difficult to find taxis. In front of the place there is a bus stop.
  • For school groups, it is recommended to coordinate your visit in advance.

Best Tours in Peru

Many are the routes that take you to Machu Picchu, but none is like the Inca Trail Tours, the most famous pedestrian path in the Americas. After flying from the capital of Perú, Lima, you will arrive in Cusco to walk for four days along a path through forests and dense fog, millenary stone steps and discovering the ruins of ancient fortifications and Inca cities, and all the time enjoying majestic views. 

If you want to visit Machu Picchu, we recommend you to book your Machu Picchu Ticket in advance, so you will enjoy your Vacation in Machu Picchu without any problem. 

Request information

Travel New Posts

sun-gate-machu-picchu

Sun Gate Machu Picchu

26 November 2022
You can see the sunrise through the Inti Punku or Sun Gate Machu Picchu gateway from the western heights of the ruins at certain times of the year....

+ More information +

bridge-of-sighs-lima

Bridge of Sighs: A romantic place in Barranco

22 November 2022
In the heart of Barranco-Lima is the Bridge of Sighs. The story tells that whoever crosses the bridge holding their breath will have their wish fulfilled.

+ More information +

vinac-peru

Vinac, paradise in the mountains

21 November 2022
Vinac, in Yauyos province, is an ideal place to meet nature where you can walk along its traditional trails and be captivated by its unbeatable landscapes.

+ More information +

Best Peru Tours