Of all the ancient cultures I admire, that of Chavin amazes me the most. It has been the inspiration behind most of my art”. Pablo Picasso
Chavín de Huántar is an archaeological site located in the district of Chavín de Huántar, province of Huari, department of Ancash. It is located 462 km northwest of Lima and 86 km from Huaraz, at an elevation of 3177 masl, in the Eastern Sierra of Ancash, east of the Cordillera Blanca. The complex is located at the confluence of Huachecsa and Mosna, in the upper basin of the Marañon River, a pre-Inca crossing point from the coast to the jungle led to its growth and importance in the collection of inputs and transit of goods. It was the administrative and religious center of the Chavín culture, built and occupied approximately between 1500 and 300 BC.
Its structures, in the shape of a truncated pyramid, are built of stone and mud mortar. The most imposing structure is known as “El Castillo,” also called “Templo Mayor” or “Templo Nuevo.” It is an outstanding example of the art of building by the ancient Peruvians for the high degree of perfection achieved in engineering, the carving and polishing of the stones, and the lithosculpture associated with its architecture.
Despite not being the oldest archaeological site, nor the largest, nor the most colorful of ancient Peru, Chavin de Huantar is considered the most important pilgrimage center of the Andean world and, according to Luis Guillermo Lumbreras, a synthesis of previous experiences developed on the coast, highlands, and jungle, as well as one of the earliest testimonies of civilization in America.
The construction presents a complex network of paths and interior stone galleries illuminated only by beams of light penetrating through strategically arranged ducts. In its interior, you can still appreciate the Monolithic Lanzon, a carved stone of 4.54 m. in height in which an anthropomorphic divinity is represented, possibly the most important of the Chavín pantheon.
In the walls of the main Temple, a series of nailed heads and sculptural bulks officiated apparently of mythological guardians of the Temple could be seen. Only part of its architecture has been preserved due to its monumentality, and the ceremonial center had this monumental sector as its nucleus. The structures have been built entirely of stone, many white granite (granodiorite), whose quarries are located in the vicinity of the Kawish tunnel, more than 30 km away.
The temples have a series of platforms with a strong slope in their walls, with a pyramidal profile (5.3° of inclination). They were built in stages, as determined by archaeologist John Rowe.
The Old Temple was the oldest Temple, which has a “U” shape. In its interior, there is an extensive network of passages and interior chambers entirely built in stone. Amid the darkness that reigns in these environments, unusual beams of light burst through the strategic ducts that communicate with the outside world.
It is possible to clearly hear a person’s voice many meters away as if they were right next to us. One of these interior passages still houses the famous stone idol known as “el Lanzón”. Like all U-shaped temples, it consisted of two lateral wings: its southern wing later merged into the so-called “Castle,” and its northern wing is what is currently known as the North Structure. These wings flank a Circular Plaza (whose diameter is 20.8 m). A stone staircase starts at the base of this circular plaza and ascends to the vicinity of the entrance to the Lanzón gallery.
The Castle or New Temple is a larger pyramid (71.0 m x 71.0 m), the most prominent of the complex, not only for its size but also for its good state of preservation, as well as the mastery deployed in its elaboration. It has two lateral arms or wings, the North Platform and the South Platform, which flank a Quadrangular Plaza (50.2 m x 50.2 m). It is believed that the Raimondi Stela was exhibited in this square, which would be the main wanca or sacred stone of this stage.
Returning to the main building, it has a main entrance called the Pórtico de las Falcónidas, with engravings on the stones and is preceded by an atrium and a set of staircases that ascend from the square plaza, where there are also unique litho-sculptures exercising the functions of lintels, columns or tombstones with engravings of characters of the Chavin style.
The castle also contains subway galleries and ventilation ducts. Embedded in the top of its perimeter walls (south, east and west sides) were a series of nailed heads or stone sculptures with faces of mythological characters. Only one of them remains in place (the west wall).
There is another truncated pyramidal structure, the so-called Tello Pyramid, considered the latest construction of the complex.
Almost all of its buildings and annexes were laboriously constructed with columns, cornices, lintels, tombstones, obelisks, and sculptures that were added to the walls or plazas, turning the ceremonial spaces into a beautiful stage, adorned with images of the gods and demons that populated the Chavín pantheon. Its materials are made of stones of different colors, coming from different places in the Peruvian Andes.
It is believed that Chavin was erected in a place carefully chosen according to magical-religious criteria and not in consideration that it was a privileged place for its soils, because there are more productive valleys nearby, even considering the use of its dry slopes cultivated by terraces.
Chavín de Huántar must have become a prestigious center of production administration supported by the cult through ceremonies and mandates expressed through oracles.
The administrative direction was very important to adapt the production of food to the rhythm of the increase of the fixed and floating population, using the effect the use of agricultural methods, supported in a bombastic ritual and in the cult to the supernatural powers that controlled the production, especially to the God of the Water on which the beneficial rains depended as of the catastrophic droughts that destroyed the crops.
The inhabitants of Chavín were a few priests and their service assistants, while most of its users were pilgrims who came to the site in search of “oracles” carrying offerings of various kinds and could stay for long periods.
There are two ways to visit Chavín de Huántar:
These are full-day excursions that leave Huaraz early in the morning. Along the route, they first stop at Querococha, an attractive high-altitude lagoon; then ascend to the Cahuish Tunnel at 4516 masl, cross to the east side of the Cordillera Blanca and then descend to Chavin, which is at 3137 masl. These excursions visit both the archeological complex and the National Museum of Chavin.
OLLEROS – CHAVÍN HIKE
The route starts on the west side of the Cordillera Blanca in the village of Olleros or nearby Carney Chico and climbs gently up a long valley to the Yanashallash pass (4700 masl).
Then there is a long descent through the high puna and further on you pass through picturesque villages before finally arriving at the town of Chavín de Huántar, where you will have time to visit the ruins. The hike has beautiful views of mountains such as Rurec (5700 masl), Cashan (5686 masl), and Purnahuanca (5563 masl) among others.
Visits to Chavin de Huantar.
Prior to the pandemic, in 2018, Chavín de Huántar received 100,000 visitors per year. Currently, as a protection measure against COVID-19, only 75 people per day are allowed to enter.
Chavin is an archaeological complex considered a religious-political center of the Chavin culture. This culture became the first state in what is now the territory of the Republic of Peru.
What is the history of the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site?
The history of the Chavín de Huántar archaeological complex, hidden among the imposing mountains of the department of Ancash in Peru, began more than 2,200 years ago.
A pre-Inca architectural jewel, this ceremonial center is the most important left by the Chavin culture. In its time, it was a great oracle where pilgrims from different areas of the Andes came to worship and make offerings to the gods.
Built between the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C., it was used until approximately 200 BC. It is located in the foothills of the Andes mountain range, at the point where the Mosna and Huachecsa rivers converge.
In its time of splendor, Chavín de Huántar consisted of different buildings: the new Temple, the old Temple, the pyramid of Tello, the circular plaza, and the sunken rectangular plaza, among others.
Today, although many of these constructions have been partially lost, the magnificent work of archaeologists has made it possible to walk through Chavín de Huántar and feel the grandeur of this place and imagine what daily life was like.
The Chavin culture built a large number of subway tunnels that hide many secrets to this day. So much so that even this year, there have been new and important discoveries.
Among all the divinities of Chavín de Huántar, one stands out: the Monolithic Lanzon, a sculpture of a spear carved in granite that measures more than four meters high. In addition, the Lanzon has three faces on which human and animal features are engraved. To visit it, you must go into narrow, dark tunnels that give the deity a much more mysterious touch.
Chavín de Huántar became a abandoned place in 200 BC, coinciding with the disappearance of the Chavín culture. But fortunately, the history of this complex came to light again thanks to the work of archaeologist Julio C. Tello.
Some researchers, such as the Italian Antonio Raimondi, discoverer of the Raimondi stele, showed interest in this place in the 19th century. However, in his time, the complex could have been better cared for (unfortunately, a constant in its history). Despite it, with the investigations of Julio C Tello, at the beginning of the XX century, Chavín de Huántar began to resurface and to call the attention of the Peruvian nation and the world again.
Exactly 100 years ago, in 1919, a nail head was discovered while building a road. This attracted archaeologists from all over the country, including Tello. Thus began the investigations of this place, which have allowed us to know every day a little more about this wonderful archaeological complex and all the secrets of the Chavin culture.
What does Sitio Arqueológico Chavín de Huántar mean?
According to the data compiled by the Chavin writer Lucio Meza Marcos in his book “Temples and Gods of Chavin”; the word “Chavin” comes from the Quechua word “Chawpin” which means “in the middle” or “in the center”, affirming, by the location of the place, that it was the center of the ancient peoples of the Andean world.
There is also the theory given by Julio C. Tello (1923) that the word “Chavi” in the Caribbean language means “tiger” and the variation “Chavinave” would be “sons of a tiger with a spear,” which would explain the iconography that represents the jaguar as the main deity in the ancient Chavín.
What artifacts are in the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site?
The sculptural art is a complement to the Chavín architecture. It is represented by diverse artifacts such as monoliths, nail heads, stelae, obelisks, and cornices; all with figures engraved in high and low relief representing mythological beings.
Monoliths are enormous sculptures of a single piece. The maximum exponent of this type is the Monolithic Lanzon, sculpted in irregular granite, 4.53 m high, and found at the intersection of the Old Temple of Chavin subway corridors. It presents the form of a knife, whose cutting edge, corresponding to the face of the idol, faces east. It shows an anthropomorphic god whose enormous feline head, with hair formed by snakes, occupies the third part of the volume of the sculpture. It is observed with a mouth with sharp fangs and a fierce look; its body is short and thick, and the small extremities with the left hand down and the right hand up, with extended fingers.
The stelae, also called tombstones, are lithic sculptures in one piece but flat shape. The Raimondi Stele is best known, named after the Italian scholar who discovered it in 1872. It is 1.98 m long, 0.74 m wide, and 0.17 m thick. It is distinguished by its complicated drawing and fine carving, representing an anthropomorphic god with feline features, claws, and fangs, holding two staffs or wands in his hands.
The cornices are smaller sculptures than the previous ones and possibly were part of the tombstones. An example is the so-called “Condor of Chavin,” which was found incomplete by Julio C Tello. It is worked of granite and has an irregular shape, and it measures 0.80 m by 0.45 m. It represents the figure of an almost realistic mythological bird, which in principle was recognized as a condor, although it could also be an eagle or hawk.
Obelisks are prism-shaped sculptures. The most representative of them is the Tello Obelisk. It is 2.52 m high and 0.32 m wide at the base. It is sculpted in high, low, and plan-reliefs, representing two mythical deities, or in any case, a double hermaphrodite god (masculine and feminine). There are also secondary divinities and diverse foods (yucca, pumpkin, achira) skillfully represented.
The Tello Obelisk.
The nailed heads are a series of sculptures made in bulk representing heads of felines, snakes, and birds combined with human features. They owe this denomination of nails to the fact that they end in an extension, like a nail, that allows to embed them easily, at symmetrical distances, in the facade of the Temple or Castle of Chavin. One theory considers that they were the guardians of the Temple. They worked in the sandstone rock consisting of quartzite and granite. Unfortunately, of the 56 total, only one remains in situ. The others have disappeared or are preserved in museums.
When did it receive the name of Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site?
Chavín de Huántar, founded as San Pedro de Chavín de Huántar, is a Peruvian locality, located in the province of Huari in the department of Ancash. Although the district is known as Chavín de Huántar, this last word is an erroneous addition to the name of the place that derives from the pastoral distribution made by the Catholic church between 1593 and 1595 in which Chavín belonged to the San Gregorio de Guántar parish until 1798; the year in which the church of San Pedro de Chavín was built.
In additional documentary searches, the compound name of Chavín de Huántar is not found, so the district should be mentioned only as Chavín.
The town is located near the convergence of the Mosna and Huachecsa rivers. In 1945 it suffered a flood that completely buried the archaeological remains, which are slowly being unearthed and put in value to turn the place into a museum citadel.
The town of Chavín was declared a Peruvian historical monument on January 12, 1989.
What are the theories about the origin of the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site?
The different theories about the origin of the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site consider that it was built in a place carefully chosen according to magical-religious criteria and not because it was a privileged place for its soils since there are more productive valleys nearby, even considering the use of its dry land slopes cultivated utilizing terraces.
Chavín de Huántar must have become a prestigious center of production administration supported by the cult through ceremonies and mandates expressed through oracles.
The theory of the origin of Peruvian culture by Julio C Tello. Julio C. Tello made his appearance on the Peruvian scientific scene defending the thesis of autochthonism of the Peruvian pre-Columbian culture and refuting the theory of Mesoamerican origin (from Mexico and Central America) held by the German archaeologist Max Uhle.
Cultural autochthonism is understood as when a culture is native to the same territory in which it has developed. Tello said that the oldest culture in Peru was the Chavin culture, which emerged 3,000 years ago in the eastern highlands of the department of Ancash and, from there, had spread to the coast and other regions of the Andean area.
He thus contradicted Max Uhle’s immigration theory, which held that the cultural elements arrived on the Peruvian coast from Mesoamerica and then radiated to the highlands. Tello also maintained that the initiators of the Chavin culture were people from the Amazon jungle, bearers of a rudimentary culture, but that with time they forged a high culture, without receiving any foreign influence. To support this thesis of Amazonian origin, he pointed out the apparent representation of Amazonian animals in Chavin art, mainly the caiman and the Toronto.
According to Tello’s theory, Peruvian culture would have followed the following process:
In prehistoric times, primitive people from the north arrived in the Amazon rainforest. These people lived by hunting, fishing, and gathering.
In search of a more hospitable environment, these groups moved up the eastern flank of the Andes and settled in the high jungle, which is very favorable for life. There they discovered agriculture and learned to cultivate corn, yucca, sweet potato, beans, peanuts, and fruit trees (papaya, custard apple, avocado, pineapple, soursop, lucuma, pacae, granadilla). With agriculture came sedentary life, the construction of houses, the manufacture of utensils, textiles, baskets, etc., and culture was born.
Continuing their ascent, these men reached the inter-Andean highlands, where they perfected agriculture. They domesticated potatoes, cañigua, quinoa, olluco, and animals such as the llama and alpaca. They developed textiles, ceramics and stone architecture.
Later, the men of the high mountain cultures came down to the coast and formed the coastal cultures.
For nearly 30 years Tello traveled in all directions of the Peruvian territory, making remarkable excavations and studies, the main ones being those carried out in the basin of the Huallaga and Marañón rivers, in Chavín de Huántar, in the Grande de Nazca river, in the Paracas Peninsula, in Pachacámac, Casma, and Nepeña, in Moche, Puno, Cuzco and other places.
As a result of his research, Tello pointed to the Chavín culture as the mother culture or matrix of Peruvian civilization, that is, the one from which the rest of the cultures originated.
Tello’s theories dominated Peruvian archaeology for decades, but subsequent research has demonstrated a cultural evolution in Peruvian territory much earlier than the sanctuary of Chavín de Huántar. It has been proven that some monuments on the coast are older, as in the case of Cupisnique and Sechín. The archaeologist Rafael Larco Hoyle even argued that the Peruvian high culture had originated on the northern coast, and from there, it had spread to the highlands. However, it is evident the existence of affinities between Chavín de Huántar and the diverse cultural expressions, so much coastal as mountainous, previous, contemporary and later to that monument, the reason why it is very founded to sustain the existence of a cultural horizon, that has taken precisely the name of Chavín.
The thesis of the autochthonous character of the pre-Hispanic cultures on Peruvian soil has survived Tello’s approaches, despite the attempts of archaeologists such as Federico Kauffman Doig to insist on the foreign origin of the Peruvian high culture (allochthonist theory).
What are the myths of the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site?
One of the most studied myths in recent years about the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site is that an important religious cult flourished there. Priests practiced rituals in which effects o sound and light were manipulated and psychoactive drugs were taken to strengthen the authority of their rulers.
The Chavín did not have an army, but they conquered through their power of persuasion and faith. This is reflected in the fact that they built their ceremonial center to impress visitors and their people.
When touring the Temple, the great work of stone carving that characterized the Chavin can be seen in their particular sculptures. It is even said that the site inspired the Incas many years later when they built the Machu Picchu sanctuary.
The Chavin culture (900-200 B.C.) was strategically located on the roads connecting the Pacific coast with the Amazon basin. From this first site, the civilization spread through a network of religious pilgrimages whose impact was felt from the highlands to the lowlands of ancient Peru.
Yale University archaeologist Richard Burger after excavating at Chavín de Huántar in the mid-1970s showed that the Chavín lived in a stratified society that relied on religious ideology and an extensive trade network to spread its influence. According to the work of Burger and others, the Chavín used llama caravans to move goods and people across the Andes.
They represented their gods in large monoliths. The monolithic lanzon, the Raimondi stela, and the Tello obelisk are best known. Each one of them is a menhir, a stone of power, which in the Andean culture has spiritual transcendence and serves for the political and social control of the population, threatened by elements of nature and food shortages.
According to one interpretation, the Chavín monolith brings together the three elements of the Chavín cosmogonic trilogy: eagle, serpent, and feline (air, water, and earth), i.e., repressive deities that serve as sentinels and ward off evil. Thus, air, water, and earth confirm a permanent harmony with the Cosmos that is reflected in the entire Chavín legacy.
The best-known huanca is the emblematic monolithic lanzon, about five meters high. It is an anthropomorphic figure with a head three times larger than its body, from which snakes sprout like hair. He wears a tiara on top. Traditionally, this image has been identified as a feline god (jaguar). Because of its location, inside the subway galleries of the Temple, it would represent a divinity related to the Uku Pacha (subway world).
Compared with other contemporary and later iconographies, Federico Kauffman Doig maintains that the divinity represented in the Chavín monoliths is a hybrid being: the half man with a striped mouth and half bird of prey, which he has called piscoruna-pumapasim (Quechua: man-bird with a striped mouth). This deity would be related to the cult of water and fertility, so important in the agricultural civilizations of ancient Peru.
A great enigma is the innumerable aqueducts and waterfalls that existed in the place, creating, through a system of gates, an acoustic effect resembling a feline’s roar. The scholar Tiberio Petro-León maintained that it was a mechanism of acoustic generation similar to the mantra, to induce different states of the mind, perhaps stimulated with the ingestion of the decoction of the San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi) that contains mescaline, very abundant in the area. Remains of mullu (Spondylus crassisquama) have been found, and the San Pedro cactus and the pods of the huillca tree appear in the iconography.
“If you walk and talk in the galleries, you hear your voice change as you go along,” said archaeologist John Rick of Stanford University.
This revelation of strange sounds and a hallucinogenic plant led researchers to believe that Chavín de Huántar was built this way on purpose to disorient people. Based on these clues, Rick and his team believe that the labyrinth was used as part of an initiation rite into the Chavín religion.
The Chavín may have used acoustic design in their architecture to manipulate sound and confuse visitors beneath the Chavín de Huántar. Beneath this archaeological monument is a subway stone labyrinth that was possibly designed to amplify sound and disorient minds. This 3,000-year-old structure served as a ceremonial center, with all of its subway rooms connected by air ducts and twisting corridors.
During an excavation, researchers realized that the long, twisting corridors played on the human voice and the sounds of instruments found at the site, such as seashell trumpets, which produce sounds similar to a roar when blown. Being in the ceremonial precinct is like being in a labyrinth. The echo of the rooms makes it seem as if the sound is coming from all directions at once.
Thanks to his work, it has been discovered that in Chavín de Huántar an important religious cult flourished where priests practiced rituals in which they manipulated sound and light and took psychoactive drugs to strengthen the authority of their rulers. “These practices reinforce the idea that not only were the rulers of the city in touch with great power but that they could transfer some aspects of that power to the people who were also part of the cult at Chavín.”
The priests and leaders of Chavín sought a way to make people believe in their authority: pilgrims and novices to the Chavín cult went through rites, and entered subway spaces they would never have imagined. They were confronted with images like the Monolithic Lanzon, and the only explanation for them was that the priests had direct contact with the gods.
The perfect structure, the finishes, and the connections that the Temple still has gave it the effect that the priests were looking for: to frighten anyone who entered the site.
Is the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site important for the history of Peru?
The Chavín de Huántar archaeological site is important for the history of Peru: being the most important ceremonial center in the cultural process of the Formative period in the central Andes and being the work of one of the original cultures of the Andean civilization.
During its heyday (1500-300 B.C.), it was a place of pilgrimage and devotion that welcomed people from very different latitudes, becoming the first and most notable center of integration and ideological, social, and symbolic exchange of its time, around a religious cult that spread throughout an immense pan-Andean territory.
Where is the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site located?
Chavín de Huántar is a town and an archaeological site located in the district of Chavín de Huántar, in the province of Huari, department of Áncash. The Chavín people occupied the Andean region of Peru in the southwestern part of the Andes, at 3,150 meters above sea level.
In the foothills of the Cordillera Blanca, the Chavin empire developed thanks to the favorable conditions offered by the geography of the alley of Conchucos. For them, it was a sacred place, and it was there that they erected the largest Temple of worship in the Andean world.
What are the coordinates of the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site?
The coordinates of Chavín de Huántar are as follows: 9° 35′ 33.99″ S, 77° 10′ 42.43″ W.
How did the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site become known?
The Spanish chronicler Pedro Cieza de León (1520 – 1554) was the first westerner to mention the existence of Chavín de Huantar.
“Among the ancient quarters [of the province of Huaraz] is seen a large fortress or antiquity, which is like a stable, which was one hundred and forty paces long, and of greater width, and in many parts of it are figured human faces and carvings, all very primitively worked; and some Indians say that the Incas, built that memorial, as a sign of triumph for having won a battle, and to have it for the strength of their allies. Others say, and consider it more certain, that it is not this, but that in ancient times, many times before the Incas reigned, there were in those parts men in the manner of giants, as large as the figures that were carved in the stones showed, and that with time and with the great war they had with those who are now lords of those fields, they diminished and lost, without having remained of them other memory than the stones and foundation that I have counted”.
“a very large temple of the said Huari, which was like a shrine of the Indians all under the ground with some alleys, and very dilated labyrinths made of very large and very carved stones, where he found three idols that he burned and made pedaços and buried, which he defcubriò vn old Indian, who was facerdote of the said Huari, who adoraua by means of the said idols, to which adiuidaua fi auia de aparecer las cofas perdidas, calling, y inuocando el dicho Huari, con el pacto fobredicho, y ofreciendole vnos granos de maiz negro y coca mafcada, y luego fe le apareciacia una arana al canto del fogon, donde quemaua los dichos granos de maiz, y coca mafcada, para que aquel humo fueffe ofrecido al dicho Huari, y por la dicha arana adiuinaua las cofas.”
Three centuries later, in 1873, the Italian explorer Antonio Raimondi visited the site and was impressed but, at the same time, regretted the state it was in. He also noted that the inhabitants used it as a quarry to supply stones to construct their houses.
Since 1919 it was investigated by the Peruvian archaeologist Julio C. Tell, who enhanced its importance and considered it the seat of the oldest Peruvian culture, which would have given origin to the Andean civilization. After Tello’s research, Chavín de Huántar began to acquire greater national and international recognition.
Between 1966 and 1973, a team from the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos headed by Luis Lumbreras and Hernán Amat Olazábal, excavated at the site and expanded knowledge about the sanctuary’s interior passages and enclosures. In the 1970s and 1980s, Richard Burger conducted stratigraphic excavations, which clarified the sequences of ceramic development at the site. From 1980 to 1982, the Chavín Archaeological Project of the Federico Villarreal National University, sponsored by the Volkswagenwerk Foundation and directed by Federico Kauffman Doig, was developed.
Recent investigations and excavations in the center of the Square gave evidence of ceremonial burials, allowing us to find the ancient bed of the Mosna River, which means that the riverbed was diverted to allow the construction of this square.
In 1985 it was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
What to see in Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site?
Chavín de Huántar is an extraordinary archaeological site with much to explore, see and even learn about. There are several significant structures, but only the largest retains most of its stone cladding; there are plazas, subway galleries, and many interesting stone carvings to visit. There is also a site museum located on the other side of the actual town of Chavin, about ten minutes from the archaeological complex. The museum displays many artifacts and stone carvings related to the ruins. The following is a brief description of the main spaces, places, and objects of interest that Chavín de Huántar invites us to contemplate and admire:
The Great Sunken Plaza
It is located just in front of the Black and White Portal of the New Temple. It is flanked by two large platforms and has several stairways. It is clearly a place for rituals with sufficient space for a relatively large public gathering.
The New Temple
It is the largest structure of Chavín de Huántar. It has the rough shape of an immense truncated pyramid with walls composed of well-worked ashlars (carved stone blocks). Originally it was decorated by many spike heads, of which only one remains in situ. Inside the New Temple, there are several subway galleries open to the public.
The Black and White Portal
It is a ceremonial portal made of decorated columns topped with stone lintels, which is located on a platform in front of the Great Sunken Plaza. The unique aspect of the portal is that the stones on the right side are dark-colored and those on the left are light-colored. Both the columns and the lintels are carved with bas-relief figures in the shape of both male and female dragons. All this is related to the sense of duality that permeates our understanding of the Chavín cosmovision.
The circular plaza
It is a small plaza located just in front of the Old Temple. It was decorated with carved stone slabs, the best known of which features a god holding what is clearly a hallucinogenic San Pedro cactus (this artifact is currently on display at the Chavin Museum). Experts believe that the Circular Plaza was the site of ritual activities.
The Ancient Temple
It has traditionally been considered the oldest construction in Chavín, although recent studies have suggested that this is not actually the case. Its interior is full of galleries, including the most important of Chavín, the “Galería del Lanzón.”
maybe the most important stone sculpture in South America. It is the only ancient “deity” that was not removed or destroyed by the Spanish, so it can be experienced as it was meant to be in a mysterious and dark subway passageway in the depths of the Old Temple. The Lanzon is shaped like a spearhead and carved from a single huge granite block. It stands 4.35 meters tall and is carved in the image of a terrifying god. It has a feline face with ferocious fangs and snakes for hair. Some believe it is a representation of the God Viracocha.
They are carved stone heads with a pole protruding from the back so they can be integrated into the masonry of a stone wall. They are strange representations of humans, cats, snakes, and birds that appear to be in various stages of mystical transformation. Some appear to show thick mucus from their nostrils, suggesting the use of psychedelic drugs. These heads originally decorated the New Temple, but only one remains in situ.
Most were lost in a landslide that destroyed the site’s original museum in 1945, but many have been recovered over the years.
s years and are now safely displayed in the modern museum.
The Tello Obelisk
It is a 2.52-meter-high stone sculpture that was originally associated with one of the plazas. It is elaborately carved with images of mythical deities and many fruits, such as pumpkin and cassava. The original obelisk is currently on display in the museum.
The replica of the Raimondi stele
It is a large granite slab (1.98 m high, 74 cm wide, and 17 cm thick) carved with the iconic image of an anthropomorphic deity. In some respects, she is feline, wears an extraordinary headdress of fanged and serpentine faces, and clutches an elaborately carved staff in each clawed hand. There is reason to believe this is an early representation of the God Viracocha. His Antonio Raimondi took the original Raimondi Stela to Lima, where it remains to this day and is on display in the National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology, and History of Peru. Still, there is an acceptable copy on display in the Chavin museum. Currently, studies are being carried out for its return to Chavín de Huántar and future exhibition at the Site Museum.
The Chinchay Shock Altar
It is a curious flattened limestone rock with several bowl-shaped depressions. These may have been used for ceremonial purposes, and the seven depressions have been associated with the Pleiades.
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF CHAVIN
The exceptional Chavin Museum is located about ten minutes from the archaeological site. It was a gift from the Japanese government and opened its doors on July 18, 2008. The museum has 14 rooms displaying many nail heads, beautifully decorated shell horns, the Tello Obelisk, 282 pieces of pottery, and many more fascinating objects associated with the Chavín culture.
What is the map of the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site like?
The Map of the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site shows the internal distribution of the Temple as well as a timeline of its development and the main characteristics of the Monolithic lanzón.
What is the geography of the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site like?
The geography of the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site indicates that it is located at the beginning of a narrow alley formed by the Pukcha or Mosna River, which is formed by the thawing of the Cordillera Blanca and flows into the Marañón River, where the Amazon is born.
It is located in the very heart of the Andes, at 3180 meters above sea level, forming part of the so-called Callejón de Conchucos, which runs from south to north, parallel to the Callejón de Huaylas, formed by the Santa River, which is also fed by the waters of the Cordillera Blanca, but which drains into the Pacific Ocean because it is to the west.
Two mountain ranges separate Chavín from the sea – the Cordilleras Blanca and Negra – and two other ranges separate it from the Amazon jungle: the central one that rises between the basins of the Marañón and the Huallaga, and the eastern one, which separates the waters of the Huallaga and the Ucayali. This geographical situation creates serious communication difficulties between the populations settled there, whose relative proximity is mediated by the altitude and the irregularity of the land. This creates a difficult condition for distant neighbors.
Chavín is at a crucial point of east-west and north-south connection of an extensive territory.
It is a sort of “road junction” in a region that covers the coast and highlands of Lambayeque, La Libertad, Cajamarca, Ancash, Huanuco, and Lima. From Chavin, it is also possible to reach the Amazonian forest by following the course of the Marañon.
According to Antonio Raimondi, in the XIX century, it maintained the export of corn to Huaraz and Huamalíes (Huánuco) and of wheat flour to Huánuco and Cerro de Pasco, in the same way as people from the coast went there every year to buy cattle. He also points out that there is gold in the district of Uco, near the mouth of the Marañón.
Chavín lies on an alluvial terrace associated with a major river – the Pukcha – that flows down from the south and a tributary – the Wacheqsa – that flows steeply down from the Cordillera Blanca, on whose eastern abutments the site is located.
What is the geological profile of the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site?
The geological profile of the archaeological site of Chavín de Huántar shows that it is located on the debris cone, formed by several debris flows or alluvium from the Huachecsa River; these events originated before and after the arrival of the first inhabitants to Chavín. They are composed of sub-angular to sub-rounded blocks in a matrix of gravels, sands, silts, and clays. In the geological context, in the Huachecsa river basin, there are quartz sandstones intercalated with black shales in some sectors layers or coal beds of the Oyón Formation.
These rocks have been affected by tectonic-structural deformation, giving rise to folding (anticlines and synclines), almost vertical dips, lineaments, and faults, leading to intense fracturing of the rock, which generated loose blocks with diameters ranging between 2.5 m to 0.20 m. The intact rock has a compressive strength between medium to hard, but its weathering, alteration, and fracturing conditions condition its geomechanical characteristics as a rock massif of regular quality.
The collapse of the Shallapa hill in June 2022 occurred in this unit. In the area, there are also white quartz sandstones and grayish-blue limestones, with the presence of black chert concretions and white quartz sandstones intercalated with greenish-gray to reddish shales. As for the superficial formations, the most outstanding are the proluvial deposits (alluvium) composed of sub-angular to sub-rounded blocks up to 10 m in diameter in a matrix of gravels, sands, silts, and clays.
Colluvial deposits also accumulate at the foot of the hillsides; morainic deposits resulting from glacial action are located in the upper basin of the Huachecsa River (eastern flank of the Cordillera Blanca). From a morphological point of view, the area has a rugged topography, defined by mountain relief modeled on sedimentary rocks with steep to steep slopes (35° to 80°), which means that the loose material available on the slopes is easily removed downslope by gravity.
The Huachecsa stream and its tributary streams have very active geodynamics, where latent landslides have been identified whose reactivation (in times of heavy rainfall) could cause the stream to the dam, and the sudden outflow of water could compromise the archaeological site.
Historically, there have been three floods in the gorge that have dammed the Mosna River. The most recent was in 1945, which affected the archeological center and the town of Chavín de Huántar, causing 400 deaths. Indeed, some instability conditions on the eastern flank of the Cordillera Blanca Nevados Huatsan (6,370) and Rurec (5,696) have diminished mainly due to the loss of its glacier mass; other conditions, such as the highly fractured, altered rock and its intense tectonism; the presence of active landslides in the Huachecsa ravine; climate change; the presence of the active fault of the Cordillera Blanca; make the ravine basin highly susceptible to mass movements such as landslides, avalanches and debris flows (alluvium).
Therefore, avalanches on the eastern face of the snow-capped peaks of the Cordillera Blanca cannot be ruled out, as well as landslides that could cause debris flows or alluvium that could compromise the monument.
On the other hand, on June 30 of this year, a landslide occurred on the Cruz de Shallapa hill, which affected part of the town of Chavín de Huántar and mobilized approximately 58,000 m3 of rocks and debris. Currently, the event is still active and latent, as evidenced by the constant rock falls (blocks of up to 1.0 m) and loose material that could affect homes located between Wiracocha Street and Jr. 17 de Enero. Due to the geological, geomorphological, and external geodynamic conditions of the Cruz de Shallapa hill, the houses located at the foot of the slope, up to Jr. 17 de Enero, are considered a Critical and Very High Danger Zone.
What are the hiking trails at the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site?
There are two-day trekking routes and others from other towns, which cross the beautiful Huascarán National Park. You can also go along the Inka ñan, a well-preserved part of the Inca road network of the Qhapaq Ñan, declared a Unesco World Heritage Site. The most famous trail is the Olleros-Chavin trail, which starts in the town of Olleros, near Huaraz. It has a distance of 38 km and includes the Yanashallash mountain pass at 4,700 m (15,400 ft) above sea level. Hire a guide to go to one of the many tourist agencies in Huaraz.
Olleros – Chavín Trek
Before the modern road, Chavín de Huántar could only be reached on foot or on horseback through a route that today we know as the Olleros – Chavín road.
Daily trekking time ranges from three to six hours. Since this route involves crossing an elevated pass, it is essential to be properly acclimatized.
Day 1: Huaraz – Olleros – Tsacracancha (4000 masl)
Day 2: Tsacracancha – Yanashallash Pass (4675 masl) – Sonqoruri Camp (4300 masl)
Day 3: Sonqoruri Camp – Visit the archaeological complex of Chavín de Huántar (3185 masl) – Chavín Museum – Return to Huaraz.
What is the best time to visit the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site?
You can visit the archaeological center at any time of the year without any problem. Still, according to reports from the tourists themselves, the best time is from mid-July to the end of September, when the weather is milder and does not rain.
Others say that summer is ideal if you want incredible photos. That is because, in that period, the rains keep all the vegetation green.
Where to stay at Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site?
Chavín de Huántar is a town of about 9,000 inhabitants, most of whom speak Quechua and Spanish. It is small in size, and there are several places to sleep and stay. Many of them are located in the center of town.
Another possibility is to stay in the city of Huaraz.
1 – Chavín Arqueológico I, Jirón Inca Roca 141 (very close to the Plaza de Armas), +51 (043) 454 055. Traditional rooms are in an old building, and the hotel has a cozy atmosphere. The patio has a colonial style with plants—single rooms with bathroom and hot water from 35 soles.
2- Hostal Gantu, Jirón Huayna Cápac 125 (On the Plaza de Armas, near the town hall), +51 996676439, a Small and cozy hostel in an old building with an interior courtyard, around which the rooms are located on two floors. The place also has a restaurant—single rooms with bathroom and hot water from 35 soles.
3- Hotel Inca, Jirón Wiracocha 170 Plaza de Armas (to the left of the town hall), +51 43 454 021. Check-in: 08:00-21:00, check-out: noon. This 18-room hotel is also in an old building and has an interior garden. It offers breakfast in the mornings and free Wi-Fi, and indoor parking. 123 soles.
Consider prices as reference prices since the dollar’s exchange rate against the sol has varied this year.
If you prefer to stay in Huaraz, most day tours depart from there. There is a wide offer of comfortable hotels and hostels with good quality and services.
4- Hotel Colomba
Jr. Francisco de Zela Nro 210
Huaraz – Peru
Hotel Colomba – Hotel
Hotel & Bungalows Villa Valencia
Jr. Francisco de Zela N°525, Independencia, Huaraz, Peru
+51 961 537 961
Hotel el Patio de Monterrey
Carretera Huaraz – Monterrey Km 06, 02001 Huaraz, Peru –
What are the tours of the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site?
There are two routes that people generally follow when visiting Chavín de Huántar.
There are one-day excursions from Huaraz to visit Chavín de Huántar. These are full-day excursions that leave early in the morning. Along the route, they make a stop at Querococha, an attractive high-altitude lake; then they ascend to the Cahuish Tunnel at 4516 masl, cross to the east side of the Cordillera Blanca and then descend to Chavin, which is at 3137 masl. These excursions visit both the archeological complex and the National Museum of Chavin.
OLLEROS – CHAVÍN TREK
The route starts on the west side of the Cordillera Blanca in the village of Olleros or nearby Canrey Chico and climbs gently up a long valley to the Yanashallash pass (4700 masl). Then there is a long descent through the high puna, and further on, you pass through picturesque villages before finally reaching the village of Chavín de Huántar, where you will have time to visit the ruins. The hike has beautiful views of mountains such as Rurec (5700 masl), Cashan (5686 masl), and Purnahuanca (5563 masl), among others.
Regarding travel and tourism agencies, the tourism sector is one of the most important in Huaraz. Therefore, there is a wide range of travel agencies ready to plan your trip. Not all of them offer the same services, and their prices vary. It is always good to compare and choose the one that suits you best.
Full day Chavin de Huantar Tour in Huaraz, Chavin Museum : HUARAZ.tours
Includes official Guide, transportation, first aid, pick up and return to your hotel or agreed-on place.
Meals and admission to tourist sites are not included.
Peru Tours Huaraz
Investment: To consult
The tour includes official Guide and transportation.
Visit the main attractions of the region: Catac, Queracocha lagoon, Conchucos viewpoint, and the Temple of Chavin.
Meals and admission to tourist sites are not included.
CHAVÍN DE HUANTAR | PERU TOUR
Andes Lovers Group S.A.C
This agency relies on the support of the communities in the areas where they conduct their tours (muleteers, porters, mountain assistants, etc.). This makes their tours more informative and entertaining.
Huaraz Treks and Climbs.
It is a tour guide company that has been offering its services for more than 20 years. It specializes in hiking, trekking, and climbing.
They are recommended for those interested in this type of travel as they work in small groups.
What are the closest destinations to the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site?
Among the closest destinations to the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site, we can recommend the following:
The Quercos thermal baths, in the village of Quercos, is about 2 km south of the archaeological monument. It opens between 08:00-17:00. Sulfurous waters emerge from a rock formation. Pay at the ticket office and go down a staircase to the river.
The archaeological site of Pójoc (go to the Mirador de Shallapa from above, continue for about an hour on the same trail, gaining 700 m in altitude). The other archaeological site in the region also serves as a ritual site and overlooks the Huantsán hill and the main site of Chavín. Stone sculptures of the Chavín culture were found here during excavations directed by archaeologist Richard L. Burger.
Mama Rayhuana’s house is about half-hour hike to Nunupata, the house is seen across the Huachecza River. Perched on the side of a mountain, this ruined building is quite inaccessible but can be seen from the road to Nunupata. According to legend, the residence of Mama Rayhuana, the “original mother”, created flora and fauna of the valleys.
The Yurac Machay Cave, to get there you have to take a cab to San Pedro de Pichiu and walk along a bridle path. Yurac Machay means “white cave” and is so called because it is in white volcanic tuff. In Yurac Macay there is a monolith similar to the one in the Temple of Chavin. There is another cave nearby, the Cachi Machay.
How to get from Lima to Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site?
You can get to Huaraz, and from there to the Chavín de Huántar archaeological site, either by private car or by using a bus service or public transportation.
From Lima to Chavín de Huántar there is a distance of 434 km that can be covered in less than 8 hours by car.
If you decide to go by public transportation, the most economical and practical method is to take the bus from the large terminal of Plaza Norte. The trip takes about 8 hours and costs between S/.40 and S/.100. Try to travel at night, so you can sleep at that time and be ready in the morning to start the adventure and make the most of the day.
What should I know before going to the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site?
It is good to know and consider the following information so that your visit to the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site is as satisfactory as you wish.
Remember to visit the National Museum of Chavin, located two kilometers north of the archaeological complex. There you will find a large collection of ceramic and stone pieces and, most strikingly, several famous nail heads (only one remains in the archaeological complex).
The weather in Huaraz can be unstable, so it is recommended to bring a raincoat, sunscreen, and a hat to protect you from the sun.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chavin Archaeological Complex has implemented security protocols.
Opening hours: Monday, Friday, and Sunday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.
What is the itinerary of the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site like?
The itinerary of the archaeological site of Chavin de Huantar is approximately 3 hours, starting with the Raimondi Stela, Square Plaza, Choquechinchay altar, Black and White staircase, New Temple, Chavin Gate, Circular Plaza, Launch Gallery, Gallery of the Labyrinths, Gallery of the Captives, Gallery of the double Menzula, Cabeza Clava to finally visit the Site Museum.
The Chavin National Museum is located 2 km from the archeological monument, on the road that leads to the city of Huari. The museum exhibits and studies the movable cultural goods that have been recovered in the archeological monument area and those found in the town.
How much does it cost to visit the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site?
The entrance fees to the Chavin de Huantar Archaeological Site, including the visit to the Chavin National Museum, are as follows:
– Adults: S/ 15
– Students: S/ 7
– School children: S/ 4
What is the best vehicle to visit the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site?
The bus is the best vehicle to visit the Chavin de Huantar Archaeological Site.
There are daily buses from Huaraz, Huari, Llamellín, and Lima.
From Huaraz, the distance is 104 km, and the trip on a paved road takes at least two hours. It goes south to Cátac and then east, where the road begins to climb. It then enters Huascarán National Park and goes through the Kahuish tunnel to enter the district of Chavín de Huántar. Several bus companies on Mariscal Caceres Avenue offer regular departures to Chavin (S/20) throughout the day. Buses going to more distant destinations also stop in Chavin around midnight, but in that case, it is necessary to have accommodation booked in advance.
It is also possible to find cabs and shared combis from Huaraz. From San Marcos, a town located 14 km away, you can arrive by cab Colectivo or combi. The former is a private vehicle, usually a pickup truck, and the latter is a small van with seats. The combis are part of a private association that operates routes approved by the Peruvian Ministry of Transport.
You can also get to Chavin by a tour from Huaraz; all agencies offer a transportation package + Guide. The cost of the tours per person ranges from 50 to 60 soles.
How many hours should a person spend at the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site?
A one-day tour lasts approximately 10 hours at the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site.
The tour of the Temple takes approximately 3 hours.
The return time to Huaraz is three and a half hours.
What is the closest city to Sitio Arqueológico Chavín de Huántar?
The city of Huaraz, 104 kilometers away, is the closest city to the Chavin de Huantar Archeological Site.
How is the past of the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site presented to visitors?
Visitors who come to visit the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site are introduced to the past of the site in the following way:
Chavín de Huántar holds the secrets of modern Peru’s art, religion, and society. Find your way through the complex subway labyrinth while a historian explains why these stones built the societies we know today.
The ruins of Chavín de Huántar are home to one of the earliest examples of art in all of Peru. Andean art has always been influenced by the people who lived and worshipped that sacred land. The Temple also shows the first signs of many artistic and architectural themes that became dominant in Andean cultures years and centuries later in Peru. Chavín de Huántar has a plaza that houses up to 1500 people in the center of its architectural layout.
Located in a valley nestled in the mountains, it is a place to appreciate Peruvian history truly. Explore the artwork and complex buildings, marvel at the history, and, in the rainy season, listen to the sound of the jaguar roaring through the drainage system of the subway temple, which forms a complex labyrinth in an amazing work of engineering. A great alternative to Machu Picchu, check out Chavin on your list of things to do in Peru.
The location of Chavín de Huántar is unique; close to two rivers and a mountain valley; it is assumed to be so situated because of the ease of growing potatoes in the highlands and quinoa in the lowlands. Research suggests that this made up the bulk of its residents’ diet. The site was active from around 900 BC, with few residents or faithful visitors, until around the third century A.D. The peak of the cult occurred around 500 BC, when the “New Temple” was built, allowing more space for the followers. The reasons for the site’s abandonment are unclear, but it is assumed that several years of earthquakes and droughts caused social unrest and the eventual abandonment of the religious space.
The village of Chavín had no official form of writing, and since it was abandoned until the Spanish stumbled upon the ruins in 1616, very little is known for certain about it. It has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1985 after being recognized as a dividing line between the basic monuments and the complex structures and worldviews that would later become Peru’s major civilizations.
It is undoubtedly a place of special religious importance, but as the people had no writings, we can only deduce a part. For this reason, the name of the religious cult is not known. It has been called “Chavin” because of the terrain on which it sits. It is known that the site was the main cultural reference point for the early horizon period in the highlands of Peru. It was recognized for intense religious worship, the refinement of agriculture (as opposed to hunting/gathering), and its pivotal art and ceramic work.
The Chavín religion is of interest not only because of its antiquity and artistic influence but also because it shows signs of religious pilgrimages. This is an extraordinary fact for such an early period; signs of pilgrimages have been found as early as 500 BC.
Secret stairways to different levels of the Temple from the platform have been discovered, which allowed the priests to disappear and appear at different heights and levels of the Temple during ceremonies.
Due to its position in the altiplano, the rainy season could have negatively affected religious life. However, the Chavín temple had a very advanced drainage system, as well as remarkable knowledge of acoustics. Because of this, the drainage system that passed under the Temple created a noise similar to the roar of a jaguar as the rains fell. All these experiences contributed to the illusion of magic during religious services.
The artwork at the site suggests an intense and regular use of psychoactive plants, especially the mescaline cactus, San Pedro. The religion was led by a group of elite priests who regularly drank the plant’s psychoactive substance, or other similar psychoactive materials, to enter a psychoactive trance.
While in this trance, they seemed to connect with the gods. The religious ceremonies of the Chavín cult were multisensory events, with music, illusions of magic, and often blood offerings and sacrificial rituals. They were performed inside the Temple (in a private ceremony) or on top of it and were viewed from the great plaza.
It is suspected that the only people authorized to enter the Temple were the priests in charge. This is understood by the increasing complexity of the carvings and artwork inside the Temple formed by a series of long subway tunnels, the final total length of these channels is more than two kilometers. Right in the center of this labyrinth is the Lanzon.
The lanzon, so called because of its shape, is a deity carved into a granite pillar 4.5 meters high. When drawn flat, it shows an impressive yet intimidating face. It is believed that the faithful were led through the black tunnels after taking the psychoactive plant before encountering the huge intimidating face bathed in light.
Chavín de Huántar represents a paradigm shift in Peruvian life. Until that time, the most complex societies lived on the coast. With Chavín, daily life moved to the highlands. With more fertile land and better access to fresh water, life in the Peruvian highlands became the norm.
The beliefs and structure of the Chavín religion were passed down from generation to generation: a hierarchy, a specific elite class for priests and followers who trusted the elite to contact the gods on their behalf. All of this originated with Chavín and spread through the Andean cultures and the coastal zone, eventually becoming the norm in Peru.
Much of the art of the Chavín has religious and sacred significance. The remarkable cult iconography was based on Andean art and influenced artwork throughout Peru. Similar emblems have been found in many religious societies on the coast and in Andean societies.
The artwork here was fundamental to the future of Andean art. Its complexity and use to tell stories and keep notes is in abstract form, intentionally difficult to understand. This was so that the high priests were the only ones to understand the sacred designs. The most common figures in this art are jaguars and eagles, something unusual for the place since neither of these animals is native to the area.
Perhaps Chavín was so influential because it was at the center of the trade routes between the Andes and the coast. It could also be the reason why the technology they used was so advanced: their location allowed them to absorb information from all over Peru. At the height of their influence, evidence has been found that they reached as far as Paracas on the coast and Pukara in the southern highlands.
This site marks a fundamental change in all that is understood about Andean life, art, and architecture. All the sites visited from Peru’s rich history have their roots in these grounds.
Is the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site a UNESCO World Heritage Site?
Chavín de Huántar has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985.
Is the Chavín de Huántar Archaeological Site in danger?
Because of its geographic location, Chavín de Huántar is exposed to various hazards, such as flooding of the Mosna and Huachecsa rivers and landslides.
Other factors to consider are the winds, torrential rains, and the accentuated day-night hygrothermal changes, which are complemented by the fragility of the stone and the mud mortar that joins them. Biological agents, such as the bats that inhabit the galleries, the camelids that roam uncontrolled through the site, fungi that proliferate on the stones, etc., negatively influence the conservation of the monument.
In addition, human activity has a negative impact because of the alteration of the landscape due to the construction of the highway adjacent to the right bank of the Mosna River and the construction of new buildings nearby (La Banda and La Florida). Another factor that negatively affects its conservation is the lack of an adequate drainage system for rainwater, which causes great damage to the external and internal structures (galleries) of the monument.
Miguel is a professional tour guide from Cusco, Peru, with almost 20 years of experience leading tours and a deep knowledge of Peru’s cultural and ecological diversity. He is also an advocate of ecotourism and cultural sensitivity and has lectured on these topics in the US and Europe. He co-founded Evolution Treks Peru, a worker-owned travel company based in Cusco.