Top Ten Peruvian Attractions

Top Ten Peruvian Attractions

       Peru is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. Peruvian territory was home to the Norte Chico civilization, one of the oldest in the world, and to the Inca Empire, the largest state in Pre-Columbian America. The Spanish Empire conquered the region in the 16th century and established a Viceroyalty, which included most of its South American colonies. After achieving independence in 1821,Peru has undergone periods of political unrest and fiscal crisis as well as periods of stability and economic upswing.Peru is a representative democratic republic divided into 25 regions. Its geography varies from the arid plains of the Pacific coast to the peaks of the Andes Mountains and the tropical forests of the Amazon Basin. It is a developing country with a high Human Development Index score and a poverty level around 31%. Its main economic activities include agriculture, fishing, mining and manufacturing of products such as textiles. The Peruvian population, estimated at 29.5 million, is multiethnic, including Amerindians, Europeans, Africans and Asians. The main spoken language is Spanish, although a significant number of Peruvians speak Quechua or other native languages. This mixture of cultural traditions has resulted in a wide diversity of expressions in fields such as art, cuisine, literature and music.

  1. Machu Picchu (1400 AD)

           Machu Picchu (Quechua: Machu Pikchu, “Old Peak,” is a pre-Columbian Inca site located 2,430 meters (7,970 ft) above sea level. It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Peru, which is 80 kilometers (50 mi) northwest of Cuzco and through which the Urubamba River flows. Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472). Often referred to as “The Lost City of the Incas,” it is perhaps the most familiar icon of the Inca World. The Incas started building the estate around 1400 AD, but it was abandoned as an official site for the Inca rulers a century later at the time of the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire. Although known locally, it was unknown to the outside world before being brought to international attention in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham. Since then, Machu Picchu has become an important tourist attraction.
    Links: Top Ten Mystical Places, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machu_Picchu,
  2. Lines and Geoglyphs of Nazca and Pampas de Jumana

           The Nazca Lines are a series of ancient geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert of Peru. The high, arid plateau stretches more than 80 km (50 mi) between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the Pampas de Jumana. Although some local geoglyphs resemble Paracas motifs, scholars believe the Nazca Lines were created by the Nazca culture between 200 BC and 700 AD. The hundreds of individual figures range in complexity from simple lines to stylized hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fish, sharks or orcas, llamas, and lizards. The lines are shallow designs made in the ground by removing the ubiquitous reddish pebbles and uncovering the whitish ground beneath. Hundreds are simple lines or geometric shapes; more than seventy are designs of animal, bird, fish or human figures. The largest figures are over 200 meters (660 ft) across. Scholars differ in interpreting the purpose of the designs, but they generally ascribe religious significance to them, as they were major works that required vision, planning and coordination of people to achieve.
    Links: Top Ten Archeological Mysteries, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazca_Lines,
  3. Lima

           Lima is the capital and largest city of Peru. It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central part of the country, on a desert coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Together with the seaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima Metropolitan Area. With a population fast approaching 9 million, Lima is the 5th largest city in Latin America, behind Mexico City, São Paulo, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. Lima is home to one of the largest financial hubs in Latin America. Lima was founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro on January 18, 1535, as la Ciudad de los Reyes, or “the City of Kings.” It became the capital and most important city in the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru. Following the Peruvian War of Independence, it became the capital of the Republic of Peru. Today, around one-third of the Peruvian population lives in the metropolitan area. Lima is home to the oldest higher learning institution in the New World. The National University of San Marcos, founded on May 12, 1551 during Spanish colonial regime, is the oldest continuously functioning university in the Americas. Located principally in the city centre or Cercado de Lima and Rímac areas, the Historic Centre of Lima is among the most important tourist destinations in Peru.
    Links: Cities, Top Ten South American Cities, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historic_centre_of_Lima, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lima,
  4. City of Cusco and the Sacsayhuaman Fortress
    File:82 - Cuzco - Juin 2009.jpg
           Cusco is a city in southeastern Peru, near the Urubamba Valley of the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cusco Region as well as the Cuzco Province. In 2007, the city had a population of 358,935 which was triple the figure of 20 years ago. Located on the eastern end of the Knot of Cuzco, its elevation is around 3,400 m (11,200 ft). Cusco was the site of the historic capital of the Inca Empire and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1983 by UNESCO. It is a major tourist destination and receives almost 1.5 million visitors a year. It is designated as the Historical Capital of Peru by the Constitution of Peru.
    Links: Temples, Top Ten Sun Temples, Top Ten South American TemplesTop Ten Churches, Top Ten Walls, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cusco,
  5. Chan Chan Archaeological Zone

           The largest Pre-Columbian city in South America, Chan Chan is an archaeological site located in the Peruvian region of La Libertad, five km west of Trujillo. Chan Chan covers an area of approximately 20 km² and had a dense urban center of about 6 km². Chan Chan was constructed by the Chimor (the kingdom of the Chimú), a late intermediate period civilization which grew out of the remnants of the Moche civilization. The vast adobe city of Chan Chan was built by the Chimu around 850 AD and lasted until its conquest by the Inca Empire in AD 1470. It was the imperial capital of the Chimor until it was conquered in the 15th century. It is estimated that around 30,000 people lived in the city of Chan Chan. The city is severely threatened by tornadoes from El Niño, which causes heavy rains and flooding on the Peruvian coast, as well as earthquakes and looters. It is in a fertile, well-watered section of the coastal plain. Present-day visitors to Chan Chan can enter the Tschudi Complex, believed to be one of the later citadels built in the city. There are also several other Chimú and Moche ruins in the area around Trujillo. This site was discovered by the Conquistador Francisco Pizarro.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chan_Chan,
  6. Chavin de Huántar

           Chavín de Huántar is an archaeological site containing ruins and artifacts constructed beginning at least by 3,000 BC and occupied by later cultures until around 400-500 BC by the Chavín, a major pre-Inca culture. The site is located 250 kilometers (160 mi) north of Lima, Peru, at an elevation of 3,180 meters (10,430 ft), east of the Cordillera Blanca at the start of the Conchucos Valley. Some of the Chavín relics from this archaeological site are on display in the Museo de la Nación in Lima and the Museo Nacional de Chavín in Chavin itself. While the fairly large population was based on an agricultural economy, the city’s location at the headwaters of the Marañón River, between the coast and the jungle, made it an ideal location for the dissemination and collection of both ideas and material goods. This archeological site is a large ceremonial center that has revealed a great deal about the Chavín culture. Chavín de Huántar served as a gathering place for people of the region to come together and worship. The transformation of the center into a valley-dominating monument had a complex effect; it became a pan-regional place of importance. People went to Chavin de Huantar as a center: to attend and participate in rituals, consult an oracle, or enter a cult. Findings at Chavín de Huántar indicate that social instability and upheaval began to occur between 500 to 300 BC, at the same time that the larger Chavín civilization began to decline. Large ceremonial sites were abandoned, some unfinished, and were replaced by villages and agricultural land. At Chavín de Huántar, no later than 500 BC, a small village replaced the Circular Plaza. The plaza was occupied by a succession of cultural groups, and residents salvaged building stones and stone carvings to use in house walls. Multiple occupation floors indicate the village was continuously occupied through the 1940’s.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chavin_de_Huantar,
  7. Historic Center of Arequipa

           The historical center of Arequipa, built in volcanic sillar rock, is an example of ornamented architecture, represents a masterpiece of the creative coalition of European and native characteristics. A colonial town challenged by the conditions of nature, the indigenous influences, the conquest process and evangelism as well as for a spectacular natural scenario. This combination of influences is illustrated by the city’s robust walls, archways and vaults, courtyards and open spaces, and the intricate Baroque decoration of its facades.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historic_centre_of_Arequipa,
  8. Manu National Park

           Manú National Park is a biosphere reserve located in Madre de Dios and Paucartambo, Cusco. The park is fairly inaccessible by road and is largest National Park in Peru, covering an area of 15,328 km². The Biosphere Reserve includes an additional 2,570 km², and a further 914 km² are included in a “Cultural Zone,” bringing the total area up to 18,811 km². The park protects several ecological zones ranging from as low as 150 m above sea level in parts of the Southwest Amazon moist forests to Peruvian Yungas at middle elevations to Central Andean wet puna at altitudes of 4,200 m. Because of this topographical range, it has one of highest levels of biodiversity of any park in the world. Overall, more than 15,000 species of plants are found in Manú, and up to 250 varieties of trees have been found in a single hectare. The reserve is a destination for birdwatchers from all over the world, as it is home to over 1,000 species of birds, more than the number of bird species found in the US and Canada combined. It is also acclaimed as having one of the highest abundances of land vertebrates ever found in Latin American tropical forests.
    Links: National Parks, Top Ten South American National Parks, Top 100 Birds, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manu_National_Park,
  9. Rio Abiseo National Park

           The Rio Abiseo National Park is located in the San Martín department of Peru. The park is home to a large number of species of flora and fauna, as well as the location of over 30 pre-Columbian archaeological sites. Since 1986, the park has not been open to tourism due to the fragile nature of both the natural and archaeological environment.
    Links: National Parks, Top Ten South American National Parks, Top Ten Frogs/Toads, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rio_Abiseo_National_Park,
  10. Sacred City of Caral-Supe

    Caral is a large settlement in the Supe Valley, near Supe, Barranca province, some 200 km north of Lima. Caral is the most ancient city of the Americas, and is a well-studied site of the Caral civilization or Norte Chico civilization.
    Links: Top Ten Ancient Cities, Cities, Top Ten South American Cities, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caral,
  11. Ollantaytambo

           Ollantaytambo is a town and an Inca archaeological site in southern Peru some 60 km northwest of the city of Cusco. It is located at an altitude of 2,792 m (9,160 ft.) above sea level in the district of Ollantaytambo, province of Urubamba, Cusco region. During the Inca Empire, Ollantaytambo was the royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti who conquered the region, built the town and a ceremonial center. At the time of the Spanish conquest of Peru it served as a stronghold for Manco Inca Yupanqui, leader of the Inca resistance. Nowadays it is an important tourist attraction on account of its Inca buildings and as one of the most common starting points for the three-day, four-night hike known as the Inca Trail.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ollantaytambo,
  12. Cahuachi

           Cahuachi, in Peru, was a major ceremonial center of the Nazca culture, based from 1 AD to about 500 AD in the coastal area of the Central Andes. It overlooked some of the Nazca lines. The Italian archaeologist Giuseppe Orefici has been excavating at the site for the past few decades. The site contains over 40 mounds topped with adobe structures. The huge architectural complex covers 0.6 square mi (1.5 square km). The American archeologist Helaine Silverman has also conducted long term, multi-stage research and written about the full context of Nazca society at Cahuachi, published in a lengthy study in 1993. Scholars once thought the site was the capital of the Nazca state but have determined that the permanent population was quite small. They believe that it was a pilgrimage center, whose population increased greatly in relation to major ceremonial events. New research has suggested that 40 of the mounds were natural hills modified to appear as artificial constructions. Support for the pilgrimage theory comes from archaeological evidence of sparse population at Cahuachi, the spatial patterning of the site, and ethnographic evidence from the Virgin of Yauca pilgrimage in the nearby Ica Valley (Silverman 1994). Looting is the greatest problem facing the site today. Most of the burial sites surrounding Cahuachi were not known until recently and are tempting targets for looters.
    Links: Pyramids, Top Ten South American Pyramidshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cahuachi,
  13. Kenko

    Kenko (or Qenqo, from the Quechua “q’inqu” meaning “labyrinth”) is one of the largest huacas (holy places) in the Cusco Region. Many huacas were based on naturally occurring rock formations. It was believed to be a place where sacrifices and mummification took place.
    Links: Top Ten Labyrinths, Top Ten Sacred Places, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenko,_Peru,
  14. Pachacamac

           The temple of Pachacamac is an archaeological site 40 km southeast of Lima, Peru in the Valley of the Lurín River. Most of the common buildings and temples were built 800-1450 AD, shortly before the arrival and conquest by the Inca Empire. To date, several pyramids have been uncovered; archaeologists have identified at least 17 pyramids (many of them irreversibly damaged by the El Niño weather phenomenon). Besides pyramids, the site had a cemetery and multicolored fresco of fish from the Early Intermediate period (200-600 AD). Later, the Huari (600-800 AD) constructed the city, probably using it as an administrative center. A number of Huari-influenced designs appear on the structures and on the ceramics and textiles found in the cemeteries of this period. After the collapse of the Huari empire, Pachacamac continued to grow as a religious center. The majority of the common architecture and temples were built during this stage (800-1450 AD). By the time the Tawantinsuyu (Inca Confederacy) invaded the area, the valleys of the Rímac and Lurín had a small state which the people called Ichma. They used Pachacamac primarily as a religious site for the veneration of the Pacha Kamaq, the creator god. The Ichma joined the Incan Empire, which used Pachacamac as an important administrative center. The Inca maintained it as a religious shrine and allowed the Pachacamac priests to continue functioning independently of the Inca priesthood. This included the oracle, whom the Inca presumably consulted. The Inca built five additional buildings, including a temple to the sun on the main square.
    Links: Pyramids, Top Ten South American Pyramids, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pachacamac,
  15. Písac and the Sacred Valley

           Písac is a Peruvian village in the Sacred Valley on the Urubamba River. The village is well known for its market every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, an event which attracts heavy tourist traffic from nearby Cusco. One of its more notable features is a large pisonay tree which dominates the central plaza. The sanctuary of Huanca, site of a sacred shrine, is also near the village. Pilgrims travel to the shrine every September. View of the Sacred Valley from Intihuatana. The Temple of the Sun was closed to tourists after thieves stole a piece of it. The area is perhaps best known for its Incan ruins, known as Inca Písac, which lie atop a hill at the entrance to the valley. The ruins are separated along the ridge into four groups: Pisaqa, Intihuatana, Q’allaqasa and Kinchiracay. Intihuatana group includes the Temple of the Sun, baths, altars, water fountains, a ceremonial platform, and an intihuatana, a volcanic outcrop carved into a “hitching post for the Sun” (or Inti). The angles of its base suggest that it served to define the changes of the seasons. Q’allaqasa, which is built onto a natural spur and overlooks the valley, is known as the citadel. The Inca constructed agricultural terraces on the steep hillside, which are still in use today. They created the terraces by hauling richer topsoil by hand from the lower lands. The terraces enabled the production of surplus food, more than would normally be possible at altitudes as high as 11,000 ft. The narrow rows of terraces beneath the citadel are thought to represent the wing of a partridge (pisaca), from which the village and ruins get their name. The birds are also common in the area at dusk. With military, religious and agricultural structures, the site served at least a triple purpose. Researchers believe that Písac defended the southern entrance to the Sacred Valley, while Choquequirao defended the western entrance, and the fortress at Ollantaytambo the northern. Inca Pisac controlled a route which connected the Inca Empire with the border of the rain forest.
    Links: Top Ten Valleys, Temples, Top Ten South American Temples, Top Ten Sun Temples, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C3%ADsac,
  16. Sechin River Structures and Sun Observatory

    Description:
    Links: Top Ten Rivers, Top Ten South American Rivers,
  17. Huaca del Sol

           The Huaca del Sol is an adobe brick temple built by the Moche civilization on the coast of what is now Peru. The temple is one of several ruins found near the peak of Cerro Blanco, in the coastal desert near Trujillo, Peru. The other major ruin at the site is the nearby Huaca de la Luna, a better-preserved but smaller temple. By 450 AD, eight different stages of construction had been completed on the Huaca del Sol. The construction of the temple was additive; new layers of brick were laid directly on top of the old, hence large quantities of bricks were required for its construction. It has been estimated by archaeologists that the Huaca del Sol was composed of over 130 million adobe bricks and was the largest pre-Columbian adobe structure built in the Americas. The number of different makers’ marks on the bricks suggests that over a hundred different communities contributed bricks to the construction of the Huacas. The Huaca del Sol was composed of four main levels and the structure was expanded and rebuilt by different rulers over the course of time. Located at the center of the Moche capital city, archaeological evidence suggests that this temple was used for ritual activity and as a royal residence and burial chambers. During the Spanish occupation of Peru in the early 17th century, the waters of the Moche River were redirected to run past the base of the Huaca del Sol in order to facilitate the looting of gold artifacts from the temple. The creation of this hydraulic mine greatly damaged the Huaca del Sol, and it is estimated that approximately two-thirds of the structure has been lost to erosion and looting. The remaining structure stands at a height of 41 meters (135 feet). It is believed to have originally been about 50 m in height. Looting and erosion due to El Niño continue to be major concerns to this day.
    Links: Top Ten Sun Dials, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huaca_del_Sol,
  18. Túcume

           Túcume is a pre-Hispanic site in Peru, south of the La Leche River on a plain around La Raya Mountain. It covers an area of over 540 acres (220 ha) and encompassing 26 major pyramids and mounds. The area is referred to as Purgatorio (purgatory) by local people. This site was a major regional center, maybe even the capital of the successive occupations of the area by the Lambayeque/Sican (800-1350 AD), Chimú (1350–1450 AD) and Inca (1450–1532 AD). Local shaman healers (curanderos) invoke power of Tucume and La Raya Mountain in their rituals, and local people fear these sites. Hardly anyone other than healers venture out in this site at night. The plains of Túcume are part of the Lambayeque Valley, the largest valley of the North Coast of Peru. The Lambayeque Valley is the site of scores of natural and man-made waterways and is also a region of about 250 brick pyramids.
    Links: Pyramids, Top Ten South American Pyramids,
  19. Sillustani

           Sillustani is a pre-Incan burial ground on the shores of Lake Umayo near Puno in Peru. The tombs, which are built above ground in tower-like structures called chullpas, are the vestiges of the Colla people, Aymara who were conquered by the Inca in the 15th century. The structures housed the remains of complete family groups, although they were probably limited to nobility. Many of the tombs have been dynamited by grave robbers, while others were left unfinished.
    Links: Top Ten Tombs, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sillustani,
  20. Bonus: Huascaran National Park

           Huascarán National Park is a national park in the Cordillera Blanca, a range of the Andes, in Ancash of central Peru. The highest mountain in Peru is located in the park (also named Huascarán, reaching 6,768 m high). This park is the habitat of the Puya raimondi, the Cougar, the Jaguar, the Llama, the Guanaco, the Marsh Deer, the Peruvian Tapir, the Peruvian Piedtail, a hummingbird species, and many kinds of ducks including the Southern Pochard.
    Links: National Parks, Top Ten South American National Parks, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huascaran_National_Park,
  21. Links: Top Ten South American Attractions, Top Ten Peruvian HotelsTop Ten Peruvian Restaurants, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peru,

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