Chan Chan is a city made of mud bricks, and spans over 20 square kilometers, and was once home to about 45,000 inhabitants. It was built by the Chimu, a Pre-Incan culure that came to power in about 900 A.D., and it is currently being excavated and restored. There are many carvings and reliefs still intact. Chan Chan also has a temple where they kept their mummified king.
Machu Picchu is an Inca site located on a mountain above the Urubamba river valley, about 50 miles northwest of Cusco. Also called “The Lost City of the Incas”, Machu Picchu is unique because the Spanish never found it. The city itself is very large, and there are many trails that you can hike that scale the nearby mountains. The most popular trail reaches the summits of the two mountains that frame Machu Picchu. It was constructed around 1450 and then abandoned just about 100 years later. It was discovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham.
Sacsayhuaman is a huge complex that would take several days to fully explore. It is known for its series of walls built out of extremely large, black rocks. Some of the larger rocks can weigh up to 125 tons. It is said that the walls used to be much higher, before the Spanish used the stone in order to build cathedrals in their colonial city. Sacsayhuaman is found outside of Cusco and was built by a Pre-Incan culture around 1100 A.D.
Sillustani is located on the shore of Lake Umayo, near Puno. The tall red towers are Incan tombs. There is also the remnants of a temple at the base of the hill. The foundation of the temple correlates with the solstices and equinoxes. While building the towers, they built ramps to bring the rocks to the next level, and then knocked the ramps down once the tower was complete. The stones are large, and it is impressive that they were able to shape it so accurately that the stones are flush to one another and some of the towers are still standing today.
The Nazca people built an extensive system of aqueducts in order to irrigate their crops. The area they lived in is extremely dry, rocky land with little to no surface water, and virtually no precipitation. It rains for approximately a half hour every two years. This forced them to dig down to the water table. They then dug tunnels to direct the flow of water to where they needed it. The holes down to the water have spiral walkways, which were possibly used to water their livestock, or make it easier to carry water out.
Pachacamac is outside of Lima, and is the site of both Incan and Pre-Incan architecture. Due to the lack of rock in this area, all of the buildings consist of sun-dried mud bricks. Also, because of the dry climate, the mud for the bricks had to be mixed in the valley on the coast, and then the bricks needed to be carried up the hill to the temple. Pachacamac is home to an Incan Sun Temple, and a temple with a ramp. Most of the temples were dedicated to an oracle, which people would consult about the future. When the area joined the Incan empire, the Inca built a temple dedicated to their sun god. Pachacamac is larger than the area we were allowed to tour. Much of the site is currently being restored.