About a one hour drive from Cusco, Pisac is the city used as the starting point to the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. The better-known Inca ruins at Machu Picchu and Ollantaytambo are spectacular, for sure. But Pisac itself is one of the most colorful and diverse cities in Peru. And with far fewer tourists.
I recently had an opportunity to explore the vibrant city with AdventureSmith Explorations. Here are four reasons why you should consider spending some time in Pisac when traveling to Peru.
1. The Inca Ruins
Pisac’s Inca ruins are an architectural marvel. The citadel sits sentry at 9,751 feet above sea level overlooking the village. There is an undulating, rock-strewn path that winds between two deep gorges, exposing stunning views of the curved hillside terraces and the rugged Andes.
The Pisac site is believed to have had quadruple significance: essential military outpost, political impact, administrative regulation (to control crops, store the harvest up in the warehouses, and monitor people coming and going to the Amazon basin), and also home to temples of religious importance.
The sweeping agricultural terraces are stunning in both their visual impact and the technology symbolized. Blending perfectly into the natural curves of the landscape, typical of the Incas’ respect for Pachamama (Mother Earth), blending rather than altering the natural land formations. The Incan famers planted crops at different levels of the hillside to cultivate many types and varieties of crops such as quinoa, lupines, potatoes, and corn that required different temperatures to flourish.
The ruins contain the largest known Inca cemetery. After death, the Incas were buried in fetal position. It was their long-held belief this was necessary to be reborn into another life. The Inca culture celebrates its deceased much like Mexicans celebrate Day of the Dead. The leaders were mummified and buried in tombs that look like honeycombs built into the cliffs. The security is tight now, but unfortunately too late to prevent plundering of the tombs in the past.
Thinking of going to Peru? Here are more places to visit and things to do:
- You Can’t Take Your Clothes Off at Machu Picchu? Now You Tell Me!
- Cheat Sheet to 48 Hours in Ollantaytambo
- What I Wish Everyone Knew About Lima
- How to Eat Guinea Pig in Peru
- 10 Ways Cusco Will Improve Your Life. Brace Yourself for #8.
- Is Machu Picchu Just for Backpackers? Definitely Not!
- Exploring Peru’s Sacred Valley