Marcahuamachuco is one of the most important pre-Inca sites in northern Peru. Just a few hours from Trujillo, here’s why you should visit.
Marcahuamachuco has emerged from obscurity in the last decade. While visitors are just now discovering the site, which is about a 4-hour drive from Trujillo, archaeologists studied it since the beginning of the 20th century.
Why visit Marcahuamachuco?
Marcahuamachuco is an enigmatic 1,600-year-old pre-Columbian archeological complex built of stone in the northern region of La Libertad, Peru. One reason is the mystery of which Andean civilization it belonged to. The site, and artifacts found there, shows early influences of Chavin, as well as subsequent cultures like the Wari, Cajamarca, and Recuay cultures.
The Canadians John Topic and Theresa Lange-Topic have studied the complex and believe its last inhabitants left around the 13th century and that when the Incas arrived two centuries later they found only shepherds among the ruins.
Another reason to visit is the commanding view of the Andean countryside, a view likened to landscapes seen in the cult show Game of Thrones.
Spread over 590 acres (240 hectares) on a plateau more than 12,000 feet (3,700 meters) high in the mountains, at Marcahuamachuco you will find monumental stone building, massive rounded walls that rise 10 to 15 meters (yards), galleries, a rectangular plaza and dwellings, and an urban religious center with a sanctuary.
Marcahuamachuco means “the people of the men with hawk-like headdresses” in Quechua.
Its splendor was revealed anew in October 2010 when brush was cleared away as part of a major preservation effort by the government in partnership with the Global Heritage Fund, a non-profit whose mission is to protect endangered world cultural heritage sites.
It’s considered one of the most important pre-Inca centers in the Andes, inhabited by Indigenous peoples spoke culli, the original language of the northern Andes (used until the 20th century).
The hope is that, along with Kuelap, Marcahuamachuco can help attract more tourism to the northern regions of Peru. This would help to diversify Peru’s tourism industry and soften Machu Picchu’s virtual dominance of this market.
Cover photo: Andina
This article has been updated from its original publication on September 4, 2017, by Mike Dreckschmidt.
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