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Raqchi: Inca Parthenon of the Fifteenth century

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Raqchi: Inca Parthenon of the Fifteenth century

Cusco is the busiest city in Peru. Every year tourists from around the world arrive to the city and get impressed. In Cusco there are archaeological sites that are not crowded by tourists and are very quiet and comfortable to walk around, such as: Raqchi ruins, Piquillacta.


Raqchi means “ceramics made of volcanic material that takes the name of Raqch’i because of its special characteristics in pottery confirms that the town of Raqchi has always been characterized as a potters town.


Raqchi archaeological site is located 117 kilometers from Cusco, located in the district of San Pedro de Cacha in the province of Canchis, is located on 11351.71 feet or 3,460 m.s.n.m at the foot of the Quimshachata volcano.


To get to Raqchi archaeological site from Cusco, it is necessary to go on the Cusco - Sicuani - Puno road. The journey takes approximately 2 hours, where in addition to going on a track in excellent condition, you will visit beautiful landscapes and enjoy beautiful Raqchi lookout.


Raqchi archaeological site is one of the most important constructions of the Inca Empire, characterized by its peculiar and extraordinary architectural technique, totally different from the other constructions of the time.


In addition, this complex is located next to a town called in the same way, which houses about 80 houses. In this town you can find a beautiful main square, a picturesque 19th-century Raqchi church, a beautiful craft market, as well as very attentive and friendly people.


Raqchi ruins historical background

According to the chronological sources of the 16th and 17th centuries, which refer to the Raqchi archaeological site, as an important religious magical center, the same one that is referred to by Pedro Cieza de León, mentions the existence of the Raqchi archaeological site and the religious importance of the same. They named it Wiracocha which means sea foam. After this step the residents of Canchis made a Raqchi temple of Wiracocha, next to the Vilcanota River, a very large stone idol was placed in one of the Inca's baths. Leon says that Raqchi was a great urban and magical center and it was constructed in memory of the Andean God Wiracocha, the main deity of the Andean area and therefore the main deity of the Incas and pre-Inca cultures.


Another chronicler who makes reference to the Raqchi archaeological site is Garcilaso de la Vega in his work Real Comments of the Incas, mentions the following:


The lnca Wiracocha, decided to do in a town called Canchis to the South of the city of Cusco and make a temple in honor and reverence of the ghost that appeared to him from the Andean God Wiracocha “The Inca Wiracocha builds Raqchi archeological site, and in memory of the Andean God build Raqchi temple of Wiracocha as a sacred place.


Architecture and planning of Raqchi

Most of the Inca structures are enclosed by large pyramidal walls, however in Raqchi archaeological site there is a court with eight rectangular buildings surrounded by a large courtyard that was probably a tambo, a lodging house for travelers.


In addition to the large building, usually called "Raqchi temple of Wiracocha", the Inca complex includes: a small artificial lake, an elevated platform and a row of buildings planned very regularly around three sides of their respective courtyard. The Inca site also includes an installation of 152 circular structures that could be used for storing food crops and other materials such as ceramics, textiles and military equipment for state use. The quality and scale of the Inca architecture preserved in Raqchi archaeological site reflect the importance of the religious and administrative functions of the place, as well as its strategic location in the Vilcanota river valley. Both in terms of preserved architecture and surface ceramics, the Incas had a very limited impact on the high valley of the Vilcanota, which suggests that, apart from the construction of a few drums, this area was largely left under the control of white hair. The Inca sites of comparable or higher quality construction and planning are at much lower points in the valley, towards Cusco, in locations such as Tipon and Pisac.


Raqchi temple of Wiracocha

The most important structure of the Raqchi archaeological site is the Raqchi Temple of Wiracocha, a huge rectangular two-story structure that measures 92 meters long by 25.5 wide. The structure is composed of a central adobe wall between 18 and 20 meters high, with an andesite stone base. It has windows and doors, it is flanked on both sides by a row of 11 circular columns with the lower part in stone and the upper part in mud. Before its destruction by the Spaniards, the temple had what is believed, the largest ceiling in the Inca Empire, having its cusp in the central wall that extends over the columns and about 25 meters (82 feet) beyond each side. The great proportions of the temple, and its prominence on the site explain why the entire complex is also referred to as the Raqchi Temple of Wiracocha.


Towards the east of the Raqchi temple of Wiracocha there are 156 colcas or warehouses of circular plant with 8 m of diameter and 4 m of height, located in parallel lines. These warehouses were used to store grains such as corn and quinoa, potatoes, chuño, dried fish brought from the coast, dried alpaca meat, brought from the Collao plateau, which were used for ceremonial purposes and mainly to distribute in different his. The deposits are also unique since unlike other structures throughout the empire they are not square.


The statue

In the excavations in the city of Cusco, the head of the Wiracocha statue was found dating back to the Inca period in 1400-1532, currently the head of Wiracocha and a body is in the Madrid museum, Manuel Ballesteros specialists say, that these would be the remains of the statue of Wiracocha that was in the bathrooms of Raqchi, which was taken to the city of Cusco to be destroyed and buried as part of the eradication of idolatries



The pilgrimage was on the Inca Trail (qhapaqñan) and would have been visited throughout the year for military and administrative purposes, as well as for religious acts, but sometimes the pilgrimage had a particular importance in the rituals surrounding the solstice. It was an annual pilgrimage that passed through the Andes of La Raya, where the Raqchi temple of Wiracocha was located, and then returned to Cusco along the Vilcanota River and the Inca Trail, passing through Sicuani, Quiquijani and Urcos. This path effectively follows the mythical journey of Wiracocha and incorporates several huacas that were dedicated to him. The pilgrimage passed through the Vilcanota River, which was a central element in Inca cosmology conceptually linked to the Milky Way, as a single stream of terrestrial and celestial water, through which the waters are channeled.

Other paths that follow the Qhapaq Ñan are the incredible 6 days trek from Vilcabamba to Machu Picchu, walking on inca trails preserved and exploring the unexplored where there is a story for every Inca monument that you see along the trip; and the Short version of the Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.


Festival Raqchi Cusco

The Festival Raqchi Cusco begins since 1968 in the Cusco province of Canchis the Raqchi Folk Festival, being one of the most important artistic expressions of the region. It is held annually on the esplanade adjacent to the archaeological complex of the same name, so that this Festival Raqchi Cusco is of great artistic and cultural importance.


The Festival Raqchi Cusco aims to revalue, rescue and disseminate the dances, music and songs of each town in the province of Canchis, as well as the high Andean provinces of the region and the country. Thus, there are folk groups from the Quechua and Aymara regions, including those from other countries.


Festival Cusco Raqchi takes place June 19 as a prelude to the great Inti Raymi that takes place days later in the city of Cusco. 


Between other Festivals celebrated in Cusco there are the pilgrimage to Qoyllur R'iti, the Sanctuary being located at the base of Mount Sinakara, in an impressive spot, surrounded by breathtaking snow-capped mountains and glaciers.


Weather Raqchi and Raqchi altitude

The average Raqchi altitude is 3460 meters above sea level (11351.71), the minimum Raqchi altitude is 3300 m.s.n.m (10826 feet). The Weather in Raqchi is very varied due to the ecological Quechua floor; temperate and dry in autumn and winter, Weather in Raqchi is rainy and humid. From April to October the Weather in Raqchi is dry for travelers this season is very good for traveling. Temperatures vary between day and night, ranging from 12ºC to 20ºC during the day to lower considerably at night at temperatures below 0ºC.


Tour of Raqchi  

After flying from the capital of Perú, Lima, you will arrive in Cusco to acclimatize and enjoy this tour. Inside the Catholic temple many artisans offer their handicrafts. This typical population celebrates the so-called Festival Raqchi Cusco every third Sunday of June, it is a show of traditional and folk dances.


How to visit Raqchi with a tour?

There are not many tours of Raqchi and the few that offer a visit to the Raqchi archeologuical site include other tourist sites of the South Valley Cusco. Reservations can be made online or in the Historic Center of Cusco: 

  • Full Day South Valley Tour the 1-day Raqchi tour is the most popular way to travel to the Raqchi Temple Wiracocha. They generally include transportation (round trip), lunch, tour guide and entrance to this and other tourist sites (Piquillacta, Andahuaylillas).
  • Ruta del sol - Puno - This service is a 2-day tour of the southern valley including Puno In addition to the Raqchi archeologuical site, you can visit the Colonial Temple of Andahuaylillas and the Museum of Pucara, in the Puno region.
  • Experiential tourism - Another different way to visit Raqchi archeological site is through 2-day experiential tourism. This tour includes accommodation in a native family, transportation, and food. In this tour you will be able to live the customs and daily experiences of the inhabitants of the area.
  • Raqchi lookout: or paragliding in the Raqchi - viewpoint is very beautiful and has a majestic landscape towards the South Valley of the Incas, in this flight area we have the ease of reach at more than 6000 m high.  

route of the sun


How to visit Raqchi on your own?

If you do not want any of Tour of Raqchi and want to go to Raqchi archeologuical site on your own, you should only take buses from Cusco to Urcos. Once at the Raqchi archeologuical site, you must buy the entrance ticket directly. The bus station on Huayruropata Avenue (Cusco) is where the cars leave. The price to take the buses is 10 soles 3 US dollars per person, other additional expenses is their food and per diem expenses.


What else to do in Raqchi?

The town of San Pedro de Cacha is located a few kilometers from the Raqchi archaeological site. In this beautiful town there is a church made of stone and adobe, which contains paintings of the Cuzco school or called syncretism of the colonial era. The inhabitants of this place, mostly farmers and farmers, stand out for the manufacture of ceramics. Outside of this Catholic temple many of them offer their handicrafts. This typical town celebrates every so-called Sunday (June Raqchi Festival), it is a show of traditional and folk dances.


When is the best time to visit Raqchi?

The best season is to visit Raqchi in the dry season, which covers the months April to the end of September. In October the rains begin and you can find Machu Picchu covered by clouds. If you travel in June, we recommend you to book the Inti Raymi 2020 Tour that takes place in June 24th, and also hike the Palcoyo Mountain Tour, which is an incredible Rainbow Mountain located in the Andes. 


Raqchi to Machu Picchu

From Raqchi to Machupicchu there are 149.2 km, if you want to visit these incredible archeological centers you would have to choose South Valley to Machu Picchu. Also, remember to Buy Machu Picchu Tickets in advance.


Other alternative treks to Machu Picchu

An alternative route is an alternative option of a trek to enjoy your Machu Picchu Vacation Package, also in the Andes Mountains and Cusco region. The most popular alternative treks are: 3 Day Inca Trail2 Day Inca Trail Tour, and the 2 Day Inca Trail with Camping

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