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The valley of the pyramids of Tucume in Peru

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The valley of the pyramids of Tucume in Peru

Túcume is an archaeological site that is located 33 km north of the city of Chiclayo, in the lower part of the Lambayeque Valley, in northwestern Peru. It is formed by the remains of numerous adobe pyramids or huacas, around a rocky structure known as Cerro La Raya. It was one of the administrative and ceremonial centers of the Sicán or Lambayeque culture, and dates back to the 11th century of our era. It was successively annexed to the Chimú kingdom and the Inca empire, and remained in force until the time of the Spanish conquest.


The archaeological site is located 1 km east of the small city of Túcume (which gives it its name), in the central part of the province of Lambayeque, in the department of the same name. It stands at the foot of and surrounds part of El Purgatorio or La Raya hill, a rocky promontory that was an ancient place of worship. 

The district of Túcume was created in 1894, around the town, which was entrusted to the Spanish Juan Roldán Dávila in 1536 by Francisco Pizarro. In 1622, a flood of the La Leche river caused the city to be moved to its current location. The district, flat and 43 m above sea level, has 89.74 km2, and is part of the Lambayeque Valley, the longest on the north coast of Peru.


It has an area of 67 km², which represents 2.7% of the territory of the province of Lambayeque and 1.8% of the Lambayeque Region. 

The main activity is agriculture with 10,412.22 ha, planted in the big or summer season with temporary crops such as rice (3,379.53 ha), hard yellow corn (1,203.3 ha), cotton (647.36 ha) , sweet potato (26 ha) and starchy corn (25 ha) . And in the small or winter campaign with a total of 478 ha, they are dedicated to the cultivation of grain legumes as a rotation of rice cultivation. 

Túcume is also part of this fragile ecosystem that are the dry forests of the north coast of Peru. Life zones characterized by the extreme fragility of the species of flora and fauna that live there, as well as the existence of a unique biodiversity on the Peruvian coast, adapted to arid and semi-arid zones, as well as the great fragility of its soils, in especially of the few agricultural soils that exist in the district, which are pressured by intensive agriculture that demand high amounts of fertilizers. 


It is believed that the place was first occupied by the Lambayeque culture, between 1000 and 1370 AD, then by the Chimú, between 1370 and 1470, and finally by the Incas, between 1470 and 1532, when the Spanish arrived. 

The foundation of the city, between the years 1000 and 1100, coincides with the fall of Batán Grande, on the banks of the Chancay River, which was burned and abandoned at that time. 

Legend has it that the place was founded by Naymlap, a mythical hero who came from the sea and built the city with the help of local peasants around La Raya hill, a rocky elevation that stands out in the middle of the plain. This legend was collected by the Spanish chronicler Miguel Cabello Valboa in 1586. 

Scientific research began in the 20th century. In 1930 Alfred Kroeber illustrated his description of Túcume with a map. In 1939, Wendell C. Bennett gave reports of his excavations at the site. In 1951, Richard P. Schaedel published a plan, prepared by Antonio Rodríguez Suy Suy based on aerial photographs. In 1979 Hermann Trimborn made the first detailed historical and archaeological analysis, which covered the entire area adjacent to La Raya hill up to Huaca Grande, on the eastern outskirts of the town. 

In the 1990s, the famous explorer Thor Heyerdahl, after visiting the town of Túcume, began a research project (in which archaeologists Daniel Sandweiss and Alfredo Narváez participated), which has culminated in the creation of a site museum, next to Huaca 1, which houses the most important remains found in the ruins. The result of these investigations is the book entitled Pyramids of Túcume: the search for the forgotten city of Peru (Peruvian edition in 1996). 

The Archaeological Site

The archaeological center, which the local population calls El Purgatorio or Huaca La Raya, is made up of dozens of pre-Hispanic pyramids of considerable size, making it one of the largest archaeological sites in the Americas. 

The largest pyramid (Huaca Larga) is 700 m long, 270 m wide and 30 m high. Others reach 10 to 15 m in height. Unlike the Egyptian pyramids, the American pyramids form large overlapping platforms and do not end in a point, but rather the temples are located at the top (truncated pyramid). Currently, the pyramids of Túcume, like other similar ones on the north coast of Peru, look amorphous, and pretend to be great promontories or natural hills, when in fact they originally had geometric shapes; This is due to the ravages of torrential rains, which periodically hit the region as an effect of the El Niño phenomenon. 

These pyramids were accessed by ramps. At the foot are walled remains and cemeteries. On some pyramidal platforms are Inca-style constructions, evidence of the Inca conquest of the fifteenth century. 

The basic building material is small rectangular adobe. The walls were plastered and in some sectors painted with rows of birds and other motifs. 

Among these numerous pyramids or huacas, the following stand out: 

  • Huaca del Pueblo or Huaca Grande (located on the eastern edge of the town of Túcume).
  • Huaca Mirador (so called because from its top you have a panoramic view of the valley)
  • Long Huaca
  • Huaca of the Stakes
  • Huaca Painted 

The Long Huaca

It is a construction of colossal dimensions, it grew over five hundred years, from the Lambayeque era (the earliest, 1,000 BC), beginning with the Chimú era (1375-1470 AD) and finally the Inca. . Throughout generations and new rulers, Huaca Larga grew in height, length and width, filling in old rooms, thus forming new platforms on which new rooms, passageways or ramps were built. 

In the central and highest part of Huaca Larga, a construction from the Inca period (1470-1532) stands out, called the Temple of the Sacred Stone. Archaeological excavations revealed the funerary bundle of a Tucuman ruler, dressed in his characteristic insignia. The archaeologist Narváez (his researcher of him) believes that he was the main curaca of that city a few years before the arrival of the Spaniards (1532). He was buried under the floor of the temple, flanked by two men and 19 women in an adjoining room. All of them were of a tender age and show signs of having been sacrificed. Due to the trousseau that accompanies them, it is believed that they were expert craftswomen. The large number of offerings in this temple, such as miniature silver figurines, camelids, snails and sacred shells (mullu - spondylus sp. -), the latter brought from the seas of Ecuador, tell us about the great importance of the Huaca Long, pyramid that even in the Inca era, five centuries after its foundation, remained one of the most important shrines of the Tawantinsuyu (Empire of the Incas).

Visit the Tucume Site Museum

If you want to visit the Túcume Site Museum, built on the slopes of Cerro Purgatorio and surrounded by 26 pyramids that make up the Archaeological Complex of the same name, you can visit it in the province of Lambayeque. 

To access you just have to book your ticket in advance according to the new visitor service protocols, check the current rate and choose the time between Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. m. to 4:30 p.m. m. 

The available tours are divided into three routes: 

  • Route A - North Zone: it includes Rooms of the Museum, Educational Trail, Biohuerto Nursery, Huaca I and Mirador.
  • Route B - South Zone: it includes Rooms of the Museum, Pueblito de Niños and Huaca Las Balsas.
  • Integral Route: includes Route A and Route B.

At the Túcume Site Museum, you will have access to the scientific research carried out at the Archaeological Complex of Túcume, with an emphasis on the uses, customs and festivities of the Túcume district. In three independent exhibition rooms, the close link between our ancestral cultures and nature is exhibited. 

Likewise, the museum presents the history of Túcume from pre-Hispanic times to the present, evidencing the cultural continuity between the ancient and current Tucumans. 

To guarantee your health and that of the site staff, the museum has implemented mandatory biosafety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.


Routes A and B

  •  Adults in general: S/ 8.00
  • University and non-university higher education students: S/ 3.00
  • Initial, primary and secondary schoolchildren, and children up to 12 years old: S/ 1.00

Integral route

  • Adults in general: S/ 12.00
  • University and non-university higher education students S/ 5.00
  • Initial, primary and secondary schoolchildren, and children up to 12 years old: S/ 1.50

Adults over 60 years of age, active military and teachers have a 50% discount on the value of the adult ticket in general. People with disabilities have a 50% discount on admission in any category.


Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

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. 

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