All about the archaeological site of Pisac
The archaeological site of Pisac is an area protected by the Peruvian State that consists of 9,063 hectares, the majority belonging to vast mountains with difficult access. Like most Inca citadels, its temples and buildings are located on the top of a mountain controlling the entire environment of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Most of this area was dedicated to agriculture. This is demonstrated by its large terraces and platforms, which served to supply the entire citadel. The archaeological site also has enclosures, neighborhoods, squares, temples and other finely carved stone structures that would serve as the Inca's royal hacienda, a sacred cult center, and farmland.
The archaeological site of Pisac is located in the town of the same name, a wide mountainous valley on the Vilcanota river, in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
How to go there?
You get there after a 42-kilometer road trip from the city of Cusco. All tours to the Sacred Valley of the Incas include transportation to the site. If you go on your own, you will need to take public transport from 'Puputi' street in the historic center of the city of Cuzco. Once in the town of Pisac, you will need to request a taxi to the archaeological site (8 kilometers away).
Pisac is part of the Sacred Valley of the Incas tour. The tour includes a visit to the archaeological site of Pisac as well as the town. The same happens with Ollantaytambo and Chinchero. The service includes buffet lunch in the town of Urubamba as well as transportation service, guide and tickets. This tour is the way more tourists visit Pisac and the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
This is the archaeological site
- The walls – Group of large-scale walls whose function was to enter the enclosure in the eastern part of Pisac. It has five doors or entrances where the 'Amaru Punku' stands out, a Quechua word that means 'Door of the snake'.
- The tunnels – Two corridors or tunnels within one of the mountains of Pisac that would have served to perform religious rituals. The first reaches 16 meters in length. The second, 3 meters.
- The Inca Bridge – The bases of several Inca suspension bridges in Pisac are located on the western side of the enclosure. These bridges were made of wild straw and were widely used throughout the empire.
- The Intihuatana – The Intihuatana is a polished stone structure on several levels that served as a sundial, to predict the seasons and periods of planting and harvesting. The upper table-shaped surface also served to perform animal sacrifices in honor of the sun god. Similar structures were also built in Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo and other Inca temples.
- The Colcas – The Colcas were circular buildings where various food products such as potatoes, goose, quinoa, corn, dried meat (charqui), among others, were stored. They are scattered in rows of six deposits of similar dimensions. The Colcas existed in various parts of the vast empire of the Incas, especially on the Inca road routes (qhapac ñan).
- The Inca cemetery – In another part of the mountain of Pisac there is a set of cavities or small caves that were part of an ancient Inca cemetery where up to ten thousand tombs were settled. The Spanish looted and stole the belongings from these tombs, as the Incas used to bury their dead along with their belongings.
- The towers – In the upper part of the mountain a group of outstanding towers can be seen. These protected the enclosure from possible invasions. They would also have served for the flow of water in the place. Because of the abundance of these constructions, Pisac was also known as the 'City of Towers'.
- The enchanted ñusta – In Pisac, there is a rock formation that resembles the figure of a woman carrying saddlebags on her back, one of the customs of the women of the Inca period. Oral tradition attributes this structure to the legend of the Inca princess Inquill, who was turned into stone as a punishment from the gods for not obeying her father.
- The Tiyanacuy – In the Tiyanacuy neighborhood in Pisac you can see a throne for two people carved finely in a rock. This structure would have been destined to the Inca Pachacutec himself and his wife, the coya. According to some research, the citadel would have served as a resting place for Emperor Pachacutec and his family.
- The calla casa – Set of buildings made with rock used from the area in a rustic way. To get there you must cross a path near several cliffs. Due to the poor quality of these enclosures, they would have served the commoner class that lived in the city.
- Pisaq – In the neighborhood of Pisaq or Pisaq'a there is a group of more than 20 enclosures of good quality carved stone. It also highlights a viewpoint from where you can see the Sacred Valley of the Incas and currently, the town of Pisac.
How much is admission?
The entrance ticket to the archaeological site of Pisac is achieved with the purchase of the 'Partial Cusco Tourist Ticket 3', which, together with Pisac, allows the visit to the archaeological sites of Ollantaytambo, Chinchero and Moray. The cost of this ticket is 70 Peruvian soles (22 US dollars, approximately).
Another way to visit Pisac is through the famous 'Tour to the Sacred Valley of the Incas for 1 day'. This tour has an approximate cost of 70 US dollars. Includes a visit to Pisac as well as Chinchero, Urubamba and Ollantaytambo. It offers complete transportation, tour guide service, entrance to all sites and buffet lunch. You can get the tour through a tourism agency, either online or in the city of Cusco.
The archaeological site of Pisac is open to the public every day of the year, from 7 in the morning to 6 in the afternoon.
Photos of the Inca site of Pisac
Pisac comes from the Quechua word 'Pisaqaq' which means 'Partridge'. This is probably due to the fact that, from a prudent height, the shape of this mountain bird can be seen in Pisac.
Pisac is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. However, it is not the only one. Also noteworthy are: the archaeological site of Ollantaytambo (Inca fortress and temple), the Inca ruins of Chinchero (palace of the Inca Tupac Yupanqui), Moray (circular platforms) and Maras (hundreds of natural salt wells).
Pisac is made up of a citadel with stairways, neighborhoods, terraces and dozens of enclosures that require good shoes to be able to walk through it completely. Also, don't forget to bring a hat, sunscreen, comfortable clothes, a rain poncho, snacks, rehydration drinks, cash and your documents.
Pisac is not only the archaeological site. Also famous are its warm and traditional town, its artisan market (especially on Sundays), its mountainous landscapes, the Vilcanota river, its colonial church and its population. It is the town of the Sacred Valley of the Incas closest to the city of Cusco (only 34 kilometers by road).