Peru is not the largest country in the world but its entire length is full of natural and manmade wonders that have no match around the world. But nothing is more remarkable than its archeological wonders. Peru had been the heart of the great Inca Empire that lasted from the early 13th century to the second quarter of the 16th century, when the Spanish conquered it.
Peru is full of remains of the Inca empire which speak of its glory even today. But Peru is home to more than one civilization and if you are planning to visit the country for exploring its amazing archaeological attractions and culture, then this is the route you need to take.
Since Lima is the starting point of the tour of most of the people, you can cheer up since you will find plenty of attractions of interest here. Lima features a number of museums including Museo Nacional de Arquelogía, Antropología e Historia del Peru and is noted for having the Tello Obelisk and Raimondi Stella from Chavín de Huantar. Others include the Museum of Natural History, Museum of Gold, Larco Museum and Museum of the Nation.
Caral, also known as Caral-Supe, is an archeological site of the ruined sacred city of the Caral civilization. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is located 200 km north of Lima and dates back to 2600 to 2000 BCE. The notable attractions at the site are the Main Pyramid and the 19 other pyramid complexes.
Chavín de Huantar
Chavín de Huantar is an ancient pre-Inca archeological site found 250 km north of Lima at the mouth of the Conchucos Valley. It was the capital city of the Chavín culture and its construction dates back to 1200 BCE. However, it is thought to have been occupied as early as 3000 BCE. Important attractions include the Circular Plaza, the Old Temple and the New Temple. Many of the artifacts found here are in the Lima archeological museum.
Nazca Lines near Nazca
The legendary Nazca lines are thought to be the work of the ancient Nazca people. These are lines that span miles and are drawn in the shape of animals and geometrical shapes. You can witness these amazing patterns by catching a bus to Nazca after landing in Lima. A bus from Lima will take 6 hours to reach Nazca and . in order to observe, you can reserve a spot in a small airplane or climb up an observation tower.
Once you are done with the Nazca lines, the nearest attraction to explore is the Sacred Valley or the Urubamba Valley. The nearest town to the valley is Cuzco and it is overlooked by the mountain Huayna Picchu. This region was at the heart of the Inca Empire. The Lares Trek leading to Macchu Picchu passes through this valley.
Pisac is a village located in the South Valley and is 35 km from Cusco. Pisac is known for its Sunday market featuring Andean handicrafts, local fruits and vegetables and other indigenous delicacies. The Virgin del Carmen festival is held in the town in July. The town also features Inca ruins and can easily be reached by bus.
Probably the most important archaeological finding in the entire South American continent, Macchu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Accidentally discovered at the turn of the twentieth century, it was built in the mid-fifteenth century at the peak of the Inca Empire. It is widely recognized due to the towering presence of the mountain Huayna Picchu by its side. The site features a number of attractions including the Intihuatana Stone and Temple of Torreon. Macchu Picchu can be reached by bus from Aguas Calientes, the nearest modern town of Aguas Calientes. You could take either the Inca Trail from Cusco, which is the most popular and rewarding way, or the Lares Trek from the village of Lares, 40 miles north of Cusco.
Cusco was the ancient capital of the Inca Empire and it is still a prominent Peruvian city. Its Plaza de Armas held central place in the life in the Inca capital and the city today features the ruins of Sacsayhuamán. Cusco can be reached via domestic flights and via railway from Lima and Puno. Cusco is a day’s drive from Lima and 6 to 8 hours from Puno. Important archeological museums include Museo Historico Regional and Museo del Sitio del Coricancha.
Coricancha or the Golden Temple is an Inca archeological site located in Cusco. The temple was dedicated to the Inca Sun God Inti. The site was destroyed by the Spanish conquerors who were content to build the Church of Santo Domingo in its place.
The walled complex of Sacsayhuamán is said to be the remains of an Inca fortress around Cusco. It is a masterpiece of Inca stone architecture and craftsmanship. Today, the site is the center of Inca winter solstice celebrations.
Situated 60 miles northwest to Cusco, Ollantaytambo is the ruins of an ancient Inca city which was a part of the personal estate of Emperor Pachacuti. The complex features a temple hill, six monoliths, terraces, baths, storehouses and quarries.
From your tour of the southern parts, you could catch a plane to Trujillo from Lima. The city is also easily reachable by bus. Also known as the Capital of Everlasting Spring, Trujillo has a lot more to offer than just archeological sites, especially if you are in the mood taking a break and relax in the Huanchaco Beach Resort. The greatest highlight of the town is the ruins on the Moche Route.
Probably the most important of archeological ruins of the area, Chan Chan is located just 5 km west of Trujillo. It is a site of the Chimú culture and was the capital of the Chimor Kingdom. It was built around 850 AD. The site was active until its conquest in the fifteenth century by the Inca. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the complex includes fortress wall ruins, temples, burial chambers, reservoirs, irrigation system and houses. The site hosts shows from time to time and the Chan Chan Museum will particularly be of interest to any history buff.
El Brujo is an archeological complex of Moche culture near Trujillo. The site predates the Inca civilization and is estimated to be 1,400 to 2,00 years old. The site is particularly known for its mural paintings and elaborate polychrome reliefs.
Huaca del Sol
Huaca del Sol or Temple of the Sun is an adobe brick temple structure constructed by the Moche civilization which dates back to 450 CE. It is located near the mountain Cerro Blanco. This particular site has suffered considerable damage over the years, particularly since the Spanish conquest and is one of the many ruins in the area.
Huaca de la Luna
Huaca de la Luna or Temple of the Moon is probably the best preserved of the Moche ruins. It is an adobe brick structure complex sand is marked by its elaborate polychrome art. It was the part of the Moche capital city of Cerro Blanco, probably after which the neighboring peak is named.
Huaca del Dragón
Huaca del Dragón or Temple of the Dragon is an archeological site located near Trujillo and Chan Chan. It is a pyramid structure marked by elaborate relief detail featuring human and dragon figures.
Kuelap is a ruined fortress of the Chachapoyas culture and is located near the town of El Tingo, which is not far from Trujillo. It is a massive fortress complex which was built around 6 AD and remained active till the early Colonial period in the region.
Chiclayo is the next major destination for those interested in the Moche civilization ruins. Chiclayo can be easily reached by air via domestic flights from Lima. By bus it is reachable by any adjoining destination. It is known for Moche culture ruins in its vicinity. The Museum of Valley of the Pyramid of Túcume, Sipán Museum and Sican Museum in the city should not be missed by an archaeology enthusiast.
Lord of Sipán
Lord of Sipán is the tomb of a Moche elite found in the Chiclayo area, whose mummy was unearthed after its rather recent discovery. Many of the artifacts from the site are found in the Sipán Museum in Chiclayo. More tombs have been found in the area dating back to the period from 1 to 700 AD.
Tucume is a site located near Chiclayo that spans 540 acres in the Lambayeque Valley, south of La Leche River and around La Raya Mountain. The site is accessible from Chiclayo. The site was first occupied by the Sican or Lambayeque culture and was later claimed by Chimú and Inca people. There are 26 major brick pyramids and mounds found at the site.