7 archaeological sites in Cusco as incredible as Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is the most famous Inca archaeological site in Cusco and Peru. However, there are many archaeological sites in Cusco that are worth visiting. Some of them even have a structure, history or landscape beauty similar to Machupicchu. In this article, learn about eight similar Inca citadels, how to go there, how much the visit costs and more information.

Tipon
Archaeological site of Tipón


Choquequirao

Choquequirao
Choquequirao Archaeological Site

The archaeological site of Choquequirao was a huge Inca citadel located in the high mountains near the Apurimac canyon in the Vilcabamba mountain range. It is called as ‘The sacred sister of Machu Picchu’. The reason is its landscape and urban resemblance to the famous Inca citadel. His name means ‘cradle of gold’.

Choquequirao is a place of difficult access. It can only be reached on foot after two days of walking. It is famous for its high platforms with llama decorations made of stone. Also for its squares and enclosures with a solidity as incredible as Machu Picchu. In 1909 it was discovered by the American explorer Hiram Bingham, the same one who would reach Machupicchu two years later.


Vilcabamba

Vilcabamba
Vilcabamba

When Hiram Bingham arrived at Machu Picchu, he believed he had arrived at the ‘last refuge of the rebel Incas of Vilcabamba’. However, this place was actually in the archaeological complex of Vilcabamba, located 118 kilometers from the city of Cusco. Indeed, the last Incas who resisted the Spanish from 1537 to 1572 took refuge there.

Vilcabamba was discovered in 1964, hidden in the middle of the Cusco jungle vegetation. Other similar Inca sites were also found, such as Vitcos, Yurak Rumi and Espiritu Pampa. Although the place is in a poor state of conservation, it stands out for its stone buildings, canals, terraces, platforms and tombs. It is a place as historic and important as Machu Picchu.


Wiñayhuayna

Wiñayhuayna
Wiñayhuayna archaeological site

The archaeological site of Wiñayhuayna is located just 5 kilometers on foot from Machu Picchu. This proximity means that both sites have a similar scenic beauty. His name means ‘Forever Young’. The reason is the presence of a beautiful orchid named similarly. You can only visit Wiñayhuayna through the famous Inca Trail.

The architectural structure of Wiñayhuayna also has similarities with Machu Picchu. It has huge platforms, terraces, water channels, temples, minor enclosures, royal enclosures and more. Both Wiñayhuayna and Machu Picchu subsisted together with other nearby citadels. All were connected by the qhapac ñan, the network of Inca roads.


Phuyupatamarca

Phuyupatamarca
Phuyupatamarca

Phuyupatamarca is an Inca archaeological site located on the route of Inca roads that lead to Machu Picchu. Its name means ‘place above the clouds’. This is due to the dense fog that covers the site, especially in the morning. It has an architecture similar to that of Machupicchu. It has squares, enclosures, paths, bridges and platforms.

Phuyupatamarca is only 11 kilometers on foot from Machu Picchu. The only way to visit this archaeological site is by hiring the 4-day Inca Trail tour. From there you have spectacular views of the Vilcanota River and the high mountains of the place. As well as Machupicchu, the site is accessed by stairs located on the slopes of the mountains.


Tipon

Tipon
Tipon

In the so-called South Valley of Cusco is this archaeological site with constructions as well preserved as Machu Picchu. It is known as the ‘Wonder of Inca hydraulic engineering’. It is that it stands out for its terraces and water channels that continue to irrigate water around the place. It even has an Intihuatana or sundial, similar to the one in Machupicchu.

Tipon is located just 23 kilometers southeast of the city of Cusco (in the district of Choquepata – Oropesa). Like the Inca citadel, the Incas built a network of roads to Tipón. It was ordered to be built by the Inca Huiracocha as his royal residence. It is part of the tourist attractions included in the ‘South Valley of Cusco’ tour.


Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo
Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo is one of the most famous Inca archaeological sites in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. It is located 60 kilometers from the city of Cusco. It is famous for its megalithic buildings as imposing as in Machu Picchu. Some of its most famous constructions are the ‘Temple of the Sun’, the ‘Baths of the ñusta’, ‘The Monumental Cover’ and more.

In the surroundings of Ollantaytambo there are other Inca buildings of great importance such as the Colcas or the Intipunku (gate of the sun). The town of Ollantaytambo is the only one that preserves its urban structure from the Inca times. The visit is included in the Sacred Valley of the Incas tour. It can also be entered by buying the Cusco Tourist Ticket.


Patallacta

Patallacta
Patallacta archaeological site

Patallacta is one of the archaeological sites included in the 4-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Its name means ‘town on the heights’. The chronicles indicate that this was actually the true name of the Inca city of Machupicchu. It is made up of platforms, enclosures, rooms, ceremonial sites and water channels.

From Patallacta you walk 34 kilometers along the network of Inca trails (the qhapac ñan) until you reach Machu Picchu. This citadel and religious site stands out for the good condition of its platforms. On the same route there are other Inca archaeological sites such as Runkurakay, Sayacmarca, Phuyupatamarca and Wiñayhuayna.

 

By Machupicchu Terra – Last updated, March 22, 2022


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