Posted by: adventuressetravels | February 3, 2012

Ingapirca: Ecuador’s Machu Picchu

Ancient ruins dotting a grassy mountainside is a sharp contrast to the lush jungles or beaches that most people associate with Ecuador, but the  Cañar province is one of the country’s most beautiful areas.  It is certainly the most important archeologically; it is home to Ingapirca, Ecuador’s Machu Picchu.

The Horse of the Incas

The chill mountain air made me shove my hands deep in my pockets and wish I had a heavier jacket.  I had not been expecting such chilly weather this close to the equator.  As I hopped off of the bus I saw what seemed to be a herd of dark brown animals around the ruins.  Some farmer must be grazing his goats, I surmised.  Much to my surprise, when I got closer I realized these were not goats at all, but llamas.  Llamas are not native to Ecuador; I had never seen them in the country before.  But there they were: a herd of llamas grazing around the stone walls as if they owned the place.

Our guide explained how these animals weren’t owned by anyone… not really.  These animals were descendants of llamas the Incas had brought and they belonged to the site.

Like Night and Day

Ingapirca may not be as visually impressive, but historically it is almost more interesting than Maccu Piccu itself.  This site is home to the ruins of not one, but two cultures, which inhabited the area simultaneously.

The original residents, the Cañari, worshiped Mamaquilla, or mother moon, and Taitainti, or father sun. Huanca, a monolith for the moon and many of the original buildings of Ingapirca were constructed for her.  For centuries the Cañari occupied this site, living in modest dwellings with thatched roofs, and building a rich and sometimes grisly culture.

Then, in around 1470 the Incas invaded.

There were bloody battles, burning and destruction of homes and property, and all the atrocity that goes along with war.  In the end the Incas burned down and destroyed indigenous caños buildings but did leave their sanctuary to the moon area of sacrifice surrounded by 8 houses.  After this, the leaders came to a peace agreement.

The two cultures, The Incas worshiping the sun, the Cañaris the moon, lived alongside one another in relative harmony.  The different temples, structures, and ways of life naturally caused some friction among the residents, but the leaders maintained a truce.

The Temple of the Sun

Incan construction was far different than the crude Cañari buildings.  Without mortar, or any type of mud, glue, or stabilizer, to this day the walls are so well-constructed it is impossible to even slip a sheet of paper between the finely chiseled stones.  The temple and buildings are a testament to how advanced the Inca people truly were.  Though aqueducts and farming techniques are interesting the temple of the sun is far and away the most impressive of the Incan buildings.  The building was constructed according to a calendar of the sun and still tells the date and time from how the sun falls through a series of windows in the temple.

Ingapirca was an extremely important site for the Incas.  Little wonder it is called Ecuador’s, Maccu Piccu.  After all, it was intended to be a second Cuzco.  Somehow, though it was a key city along the trade route, it never reached the glory of Maccu Piccu, and by 1530 it was abandoned.


Ingapirca may not have the acclaim of Machu Picchu, but if you are in Ecuador it is well worth a visit.

Can you see the Inca's head?

The $6 USD entry fee includes entry to the museum and a guided tour.  Juan, our guide was one of the best tour guides I have had.  Eyes shining, he brought the past to life.  He painted a portrait of the past, with beautiful indigenous princesses, servants being buried alive, and an uneasy truce between two vastly different cultures.


  1. Guauu! Hay un gigante Inca atrapado por la montaña.

  2. Hello my friend! I want to say that this post is amazing, nice written and include approximately all significant infos. I’d like to peer extra posts like this .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: