Qhapaq Ñan, the Inca heritage that has survived the test of time

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Tahuantinsuyo’s network of roads, a permanent link to Peru’s historical past, is about to celebrate a special anniversary Incas are known worldwide for the citadel of Machu Picchu. Besides its beauty, the archaeological site is the best example of architectural knowledge had by the ancient Peruvians.

Like the citadel, Qhapaq Ñan is another important Inca vestige that just turned one year after having been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO This is the road network which used to connect all the Tahuantinsuyo, from Colombia to Argentina, passing through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile.

But the importance of these roads lies not only in its history but what it represents for Peru, even to this day. Some of the roads are still used even today by the surrounding communities. It is a heritage that is kept alive and allows us to connect these villages,’ explains Giancarlo Marcone, general coordinator of the Qhapaq Ñan Project.

Marcone emphasizes the role of these pathways in the relationship between our past and present. Often the traditional story is told as a break between the Andean, the colony and who we are today. But there are aspects such as the Qhapaq Ñan where there is no such break, as we continue to grow over the same past and represents the unity of such diversity.

While the most well known ways of this great network of roads are found in Cusco, there are other sections that represent an enormous tourist potential for the country. For example, the route that passes by Lake Titicaca in Puno or the section between Vilcashuamán and Pisco. Even close to Lima you can see part of this road coming from the central highlands and culminated in the archaeological site of Pachacamac.

Of the sixty thousand kilometers that make up the Qhapaq Ñan, nearly half run through Peruvian territory. They are about 23 kilometers of roads we have in Peru including the most important point, Cusco. And even now these routes are preferred by trekkers and backpackers, the plan of the Qhapaq Ñan Project. according Marcone, is to recover those alternative ways to attract more visitors and assist the development of local communities through tourism.

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Veronica Gruber