Raqchi–Incan site

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Most of the information in this article is taken from Wikipedia, but coincides with the information given by our guide. 

Raqch’i (Quechua) is an Inca archaeological site in Peru located in the Cusco Region, near a city of the same name. It is 3480 meters above sea level and 110 kilometers from the city of Cuzco. It is best known for the Temple of Wiracocha. The site has experienced a recent increase in tourism in recent years.

The Inka site at Raqch’i was a primary control point on a road system that originated in Cusco and expanded as the Inka empire grew. It is located in a valley known for sacred sites. Most of the Inka structures are enclosed by a 4 km-long perimeter wall, but just outside it, on the Inka road that entered from Cusco, an enclosure with eight rectangular buildings around a large courtyard was probably a tampu (a lodging house for travelers). The complex of Raqch’i consists of several different areas each designated with a specific function—religious, administrative, defensive and for storage of food. Nearby are the ruins of many circular buildings, likely used as storehouses, called qullqas. On the nearby hillsides are irrigated terraces which were likely used to keep the qullqas full for those traveling through. When I was visiting, there were work crews actively rebuilding these round stone storehouses. Raqch’i also houses a nearby spring and a pool or bath in proximity to the Temple of Wiracocha which could have been used for rituals.

Storehouses

To the eastern side of the temple are 152 round qullqas in parallel lines, each measuring some 10 meters (33ft) in diameter. These storehouses were used to hold grains, such as corn and quinoa, that would have been used for ceremonial purposes as well as pottery, woven cloth and military equipment. The storehouses are also unique as unlike other structures throughout the empire they are not square cornered. The reason for this is unknown.

These storehouses are also called colca–similar to Colca Canyon–a rich farming area. The Incas understood how precarious weather and natural disasters like earthquakes could be, so stored food was extremely important.

Inside one of the rebuilt storehouses.

Defense

There is some evidence that there was a village on the same site before the Inka conquest, but that it was the Inka who built the defensive changes to the city. Raqch’i is located on a prominent ridge overlooking the surrounding valley which provides a natural defensive position.

This could have been an administrative building.
This street is lined up with the sunrise at the winter solstice.

Temple of Wiracocha

The most prominent structure is the Temple of Wiracocha, an enormous rectangular two-story roofed structure that measures 92 metres (302 ft) by 25.5 metres (84 ft). This structure consists of a central adobe wall some 18 to 20 meters in height with an andesite base. Windows and doors allow passage. It is flanked on each side by a row of eleven columns. The foundations measure 4 metres (13 ft) for both the wall and the columns are classic high Inca stonework with the remaining height built of adobe.

Prior to its destruction by the Spaniards, the temple had what is believed to be the largest single roof in the Incan Empire, having its peak at the central wall, then stretching over the columns and some 25 meters (82ft) beyond on each side. The huge proportions of the temple, and its prominence on the site explain why the whole complex is also sometimes referred to as the Temple of Wiracocha.

The Temple is the only Inka building for which we have an account of how people should walk through it. In processing through the temple, the devotees would have wound their way towards the statue of Viracocha, the volcano and the spring.

According to Inca mythology, Wiracocha came to the region the Inka called Kacha but the local people there did not recognize him and tried to attack him. When he them, he made fire fall from the sky and burn the hills around the people. The Kacha went to Wiracocha pleading forgiveness and he put the fires out and explained to them who he was. They built a wak’a (shrine) where Wiracocha had stood and gave him many offerings. When the Inka Huayna Capac passed by the province of Kacha he saw the wak’a shrine of Viracocha in the midst of the plain and he asked why it was there. The people of the province told him of the miracle that Viracocha had performed. He decided that the remembrance of this event should be greater and ordered the erection of the temple.

There is still a small town along side the ruins. This is the town square and church.
Always lots to buy.
The Incas understood how important water was. Also, if I understood my guide correctly, the Inca Trail, to Machu Picchu, goes right through this site.
It’s still an important agricultural area.

Notice the protrusions from the stone terrace walls? Those are stairs. You see this in most terraces.

 

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Beth

I'm a professional vagabond. I quit my cubical job in January 2014. Since then, I've hiked the Appalachian Trail, The Camino, and taught English in Vietnam, Turkey, Russia, Spain, Mexico and Peru. I'm exploring the world and you can come too!

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