In less than 100 years, the Incas took over a vast empire in which they left scattered, throughout the length and breadth of all of Peru, beautiful architectural works that we are lucky to be able to explore to this day. One of these places is Vilcashuamán, the main Inca archaeological complex that you can find in Ayacucho, in southern Peru. So that you can see that the Inca empire goes beyond Cusco, here we tell you the incredible history of Vilcashuamán and everything you need to know to visit this citadel.
Vilcashuamán is an important Inca city that was built in the capital of its mythical rival, the Chanca Confederation, in Ayacucho. It was built at the time of the Incas Tupac Yupanqui and Huayna Capac and was one of the most important administrative centers of Tahuantinsuyo. As head of the province, he housed up to 30,000 men as a garrison.
The great wealth contained in its deposits, the beauty of its architecture and its strategic location on the Qhapaq Ñan route or the Inca royal road aroused the interest of the Spanish conquerors, who knew of its existence from the first moments of their arrival. to the Peruvian countries. Know what you can find in this beautiful part of the country.
Vilcashuamán is located in the district of the same name, province of Cangallo, 80 kilometers south east of the city of Ayacucho, department of Ayacucho, in southern Peru, on the left bank of the Pampas River at 3,150 meters above sea level.
The Ayacucho region has been the stage for the development of various Peruvian cultures. Before the Incas arrived, the Chancas were here, a culture that is characterized for having fought energetically against the Inca empire. But their fight came to an end in 1438, when the Incas, led by Pachacútec, defeated the Chancas, turning the region into a veritable butcher shop, and took over all their territory.
Although Ayacucho does not have such powerful Inca traces as those that you will be able to see in Cusco, here is one of the most important administrative centers of the Tahuantinsuyo or Inca Empire: the archaeological complex of Vilcashuamán, a word that in Quechua means “sacred falcon”.
According to the history of Peru, the Inca Pachacútec ordered the construction of this building after defeating the Chancas and thus demonstrating the power of his entire empire. Thus, Vilcashuamán served as a main point on the Qapaq Ñan (Inca Trail) route and also as a temple to worship the sun and a place from which to spread the Quechua language to the entire Tahuantinsuyo.
Vilcashuamán became a true work of art of Inca architecture. It has the typical characteristics of the buildings erected by this culture: a trapezoidal plaza, temples dedicated to the sun and the moon, and a sacred throne. Its buildings are totally imposing to this day!
Vilcashuamán surprises since you arrive because of how the town has evolved. Far from being an archaeological center isolated from civilization, as is the case with other Inca constructions, the buildings that Pachacútec ordered are now intermingled with the houses of the inhabitants of Vilcashuamán.
Thus, when you walk through this place you will find large and imposing buildings next to humble and small houses. This makes Vilcashuamán a perfect place to meet the people of the area, the living witnesses of how this place has changed and who will be able to tell you the most enigmatic stories and legends of this site.
There are three main places that you have to know when you visit the archaeological complex of Vilcashuamán. As always, so that you do not arrive at this place from scratch and have an idea of what you are going to find, here we will tell you more about these three Inca constructions.
Take a good look, when you visit an Inca construction it is very common to find trapezoidal squares, one of the main characteristics of its Inca architecture. The one in Vilcashuamán was built for different purposes.
On the one hand, being such a large space, it served to house around 20,000 people, making it ideal for housing the large army that accompanied the Inca on his travels. In addition, according to the history books, human and animal sacrifices were also made here, on a rock that is still preserved and that you can see with your own eyes: the sacrificial stone.
In the southern part of the Trapezoidal Plaza is what is surely the most important construction of the entire archaeological complex of Vilcashuamán. It is the Temple of the Sun, a place dedicated to the powerful god of the Incas, the Inti. Next to it are other places of interest such as the Temple of the Moon.
With the conquest, Vilcashuamán also suffered the fury of the Spanish. As in other places in Latin America, the conquistadors thought that a tremendous treasure was found here and looted this place, with special zeal for the Temple of the Sun. After causing serious damage to this sacred building of the Incas, on it they built the Church of San Juan Bautista, which is still standing today.
As in many other Inca citadels, the highest ruler of this culture liked to have his throne from which he could control everything that happened and witness the ceremonies. In Vilcashuamán this place for the Inca is the Ushnu, a pyramid with five platforms on which was an armchair carved in stone and with gold plates. As you can imagine, sobriety was not one of the main characteristics of the Inca rulers.
Behind the Ushnu is a building that, according to Vilcashuamán experts believe, was the palace of Pachacútec, a construction that reflects the great quality of Inca architecture.
Vilcashuamán is located 107 kilometers south of the city of Ayacucho. Being one of the main tourist places in this region, it is easy to reach this archaeological complex on your own.
To do this, you will have to take a bus or a combi in the southern terminal of Ayacucho. It is a long trip, between three and four hours one way, so the buses to Vilcashuamán leave from five in the morning. Try to take the transport as early as possible so you can make the most of the day in Vilcashuamán.
As we always say, the good thing about visiting these types of sites is knowing all about their history. For this reason, it is important to go to these places with the help of a specialized guide who will tell you everything that happened here.
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 Peru, 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.