All about the archaeological site of Chinchero
What is it?
The archaeological site of Chinchero is one of the most important tourist and historical attractions of Cusco. In the Inca Empire it was the palace of Emperor Túpac Yupanqui until it was destroyed by the Spanish in the 16th century. Although many of its structures were destroyed, it is still possible to distinguish some walls, enclosures and, above all, the immense set of terraces and platforms. Today, it is one of the tourist destinations of the famous 1-day tour of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
The archaeological site of Chinchero is located only about 500 meters from the main square and urban center of the town.
How to get?
To get to Chinchero from the city of Cusco, you must take one of the public transports that depart from 'Belén Pampa' street. The trip is about 30 kilometers and takes approximately 40 minutes. The final stop is called 'Entel' and is located a few steps from the main square of the town. From there you only have to walk until you reach the archaeological site.
Map to get to the archaeological site of Chinchero
The palace of Túpac Yupanqui
The archaeological investigations in the place indicate that the foundation and growth of Chinchero occurred with the arrival of the emperor Túpac Yupanqui (1471 - 1493) and the construction of his temple and place of residence. Likewise, the smaller constructions located around and in a large area suggest that the Inca town was enormous, even larger than the current town of Chinchero. During the viceroyalty, the Spanish built the church of Nuestra Señora de Monserrat on the foundations of this important palace.
After 60 or 70 years of splendor, in 1540 the ruler Manco Inca ordered the burning of Chinchero in order not to allow the supply of the Spanish armies during the war for control of Cusco. With the destruction of the Túpac Yupanqui palace at the hands of the Spanish, a time of gradual abandonment began in Chinchero, which would become a small reduction of Indians.
The archaeological remains found in the place suggest that the Tupac Yupanqui palace was one of the most important and splendid royal precincts of Cusco. There the Inca established the resting place for himself and his family. It had walls of fine stone carvings, large windows, water channels, terraces, trapezoidal niches and more. Currently, it is one of the best tourist attractions in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Túpac Yupanqui (1471 - 1493) was the second Inca emperor, son of Pachacutec, and who achieved the maximum expansion of the Tahuantinsuyo. Some chronicles indicate that he embarked on a raft to Polynesia conquering the islands of Mangareva and Rapa Nui in Oceania. For this reason he is known as 'the Inca navigator'. About 50 years after his death, the Spanish would arrive in Cusco destroying the Inca empire.
The archaeological site of Chinchero
The archaeological site of Chinchero is made up of more than 43 hectares, some of which are part of the current town. Most of the place shows evidence of a great fire, which was surely the one caused by Manco Inca in 1540 during the wars against the Spanish. The main area, where the current Tupac Yupanqui palace is located, must have been an important religious site. This is demonstrated by the remains of its finely carved walls with niches and windows. Burials were also found.
The rest of the buildings located in the current square are carved in a lower quality than the main palace. They are located in isolation due to destruction. They should have served as the main square, place of religious or civil ceremonies. The so-called 'Titicaca' stone stands out, the largest and most well preserved (height of up to 15 meters). The rest of the area is characterized by the presence of terraces and terraces with a pyramidal characteristic. At the foot of the platforms there is a huge rock carved in the shape of thrones and stairways. Recent investigations in the town of Chinchero have revealed gutters, small Intihuatana, platforms and other buildings of Inca and pre-Inca origin (Killke culture).
The entrance to the archaeological site of Chinchero is included in the Partial Cusco Tourist Ticket 3, which has a cost of 70 Peruvian soles (22 US dollars, approximately). This ticket also includes entry to the archaeological sites of Pisac, Ollantaytambo and Moray.
Another way to visit the archaeological site of Chinchero is through the 'Tour to the Sacred Valley of the Incas for 1 day'. The cost of this service is 70 US dollars on average. Tours can be purchased online through any tourism agency in Cusco. You can buy the 'Cusco Tourist Ticket' on Avenida El Sol 185, in the Historic Center of the city of Cuzco.
Hours of Operation
The Chinchero archaeological site is open to visitors every day of the year from 7 in the morning to 6 in the afternoon.
Photos of the place
The archaeological site of Chinchero is famous for its beautiful platforms and terraces arranged over many hectares. An ancient Inca road (qhapac ñan) crosses the archaeological site towards the towns of Urquillos and Huayllabamba, in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. This small hiking trail (approximately 2 hours) is an adventure full of beautiful landscapes. The route is free!
Chinchero is one of the towns of Cusco that fervently maintain their customs and traditions. For example, women continue to wear their traditional red and black dress. In its Sunday market it is still possible to do the 'barter'. Every year, the settlers elect a 'varayoc' (communal authority), just as the Incas themselves did.
If you visit the archaeological site of Chinchero, take the opportunity to get to know the famous textile centers of the town (a place of much tradition) as well as the Salineras de Maras and the circular platforms of Moray, both sites located a few kilometers from the town.
Chinchero is located at 3,762 meters above sea level (12,342 feet), an altitude that can cause so-called 'altitude sickness' whose discomforts are mainly fatigue and nausea. To reduce these symptoms it is advisable to drink plenty of water. At night, the cold and wind can cause some problems for visitors. For this reason, it is advisable to bring a sweater or jacket with you.