Machu Picchu, nestled into the Andes Mountains and shrouded by an ethereal cloud blanket, is an icon of ancient Incan Architecture which draws tourists from around the globe. However, Peru has many more treasures hidden beyond Machu Picchu; Ruins dot its landscape across Peru testifying to vibrant indigenous cultures and its past glory – come join us on an immersive journey beyond Machu Picchu to uncover more ancient relics!
1. Chan Chan of Mystical Adobe City
Chan Chan archaeological site lies north of Lima along Peru’s beautiful Pacific coast, boasting as an example of precolombian city planning genius from Chimu culture and architecture. Chan Chan is widely acknowledged to be South America / Central America’s largest precolombian city as well as being world-famous adobe town, bearing testimony to their architectural excellence and urban planning expertise.
Chan Chan covers 20 square kilometers and once served as the imperial capital for Chimor, once an island kingdom off Indonesia’s southeast coast. A fascinating journey back in time through an intricate network of palaces and temples; plazas, residences, temples and palaces can all be found within this sprawling complex decorated with geometric patterns, marine-related motifs and friezes that pay homage to Chimu peoples’ deep connections with ocean life; Chan Chan feels like entering an ancient history book where its pages unfold revealing tales about long gone civilizations!
2. Huaca Pucllana Pyramid in Desert: Step Pyramid
Huaca Pucllana stands proudly among Lima’s modern skyscrapers as an ancient pyramid built by Lima Culture around 500 AD from adobe-and-clay materials. A symbol of Peru’s rich past and resilience.
Huaca Pucllana served as an important administrative and ceremonial center in Lima culture, impressing visitors with its massive 500-meter long by 100 meter wide by 22-meter-tall pyramid as they stroll around it. However, perhaps most impressive about it all was its sacred ceremonial space where sacrifices to various deities took place daily – while at night, its soft illumination adds another level of historic appeal for visitors to enjoy!
3. Kuelap, North America’s Machu Picchu
Kuelap is an Amazonas region fortified city located amidst dense cloud forests. Also dubbed as ‘Machu Picchu in the North’, this landmark was the fortress of Chachapoyas or “Cloud Warriors”, providing shelter against attack while showing their military might through massive defensive walls and hundreds of circular dwellings that give insight into ancient inhabitants of this ancient site.
Kuelap’s mysterious stone structures that rise out of lush green terrain are captivating and will transport you back in time to an era when ‘Cloud Warriors,’ who once ruled this land, oversaw ceremonial buildings and ancient tombs – no doubt contributing to Kuelap being one of Peru’s more fascinating archaeological sites despite being far less well known than Machu Picchu!
4. Caral-Supe, Cradle of Civilization in the Americas
Caral-Supe is located 200km north of Lima in the fertile Supe Valley and dates back 2600 BCE; making it one of America’s oldest cities and an archaeological site of great historical and archeological interest. Norte Chico represents one of America’s earliest known complex societies that dates back over 3 millenia!
Caral-Supe’s urban complexity belies its age. The site includes six pyramidal buildings, numerous residential areas and sunken circular plazas that were carefully planned and constructed; their largest pyramid with its staircase leading up to an observation platform at a higher altitude offers beautiful panoramic views across its complex. Exploring Caral-Supe allows one the opportunity to journey back through time into one of America’s early civilizations; visiting it will leave one inspired and humbled alike!
5. Nasca Lines: Geoglyphs and Nasca Lines
Peru’s archaeological treasures extend far beyond ancient cities and forts into the vast Nasca Desert, home of the mysterious Nasca Lines that can be seen etched into its parched soil by Nasca people between 500 BCE to 500 CE – creating huge geoglyphs with animals, geometric figures and plants depicted there that cover roughly 400 square kilometers and provide stunning evidence of their ingenuity and creativity.
Nasca Lines remain a mystery to this day; theories regarding their purpose include astronomical clocks, ceremonial paths and intricate irrigation systems. A must see destination for history enthusiasts and curious travelers.
6. Trujillo’s Ancient Centers: Sun and Moon Temples
Trujillo’s coastal city and the Sun and Moon Temples bear testament to Peru’s ancient legacy. Constructed by Moche civilization, these celestial-sounding structures served an essential function in Moche society and politics as opposed to being places for solemn religious rituals.
Sun Temple served as an administrative hub, while Moon Temple served as the ceremonial heart of Moche society with murals depicting deities, rituals and mythology of this culture. Exploring these sites provides history lovers an incredible insight into Moche society with all of its complex beliefs and rituals – truly an enriching experience!
7. Visit Ollantaytambo and Pisac (Sacred Valleys).
Ollantaytambo, located near its western edge and once owned by Emperor Pachacuti himself as part of their royal estate. Boasting beautifully preserved Incan architecture as well as terraced fields with picturesque valley views.
Pisac lies high up in the Andean mountains and is widely recognized for its bustling market and Incan ruin. Additionally, there is an assortment of impressive terraces, residential buildings and temples at this site that shed insight into Incans’ advanced agricultural and architectural techniques.
Peru offers us an opportunity to gain greater insights into its past by visiting its ancient ruins, which span from bustling cities to remote cloud forests. Not only can we observe it; rather we get involved with it too by engaging with it directly and listening to stories of those who helped shape Peru that we know today – while Machu Picchu may be its crowning glory, its true magic lies within all of Peru’s archaeological treasures that extend far beyond this great citadel.