When you travel to Peru, the Imperial City and its beautiful Sacred Valley will be two of the highlights to enjoy within the many destinations of Peru. In general, the Sacred Valley and Cusco are usually mandatory stops for those looking to visit the Wonder of the World. But the magnificent Sacred Valley has many attractions of great historical and anthropological value. Therefore, when you think about planning a vacation, these two destinations are points that you cannot ignore. Among the different places to visit, Pisac is one of the most iconic and representative of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. It is usually one of the most attractive and important points within the different routes. And that is why, together with the travel experts of Machu Travel Peru, we have prepared a small article about the Pisac ruins.
Because being able to explore these ruins is something that no one should miss. The beautiful Sacred Valley of the Incas is very close to Cusco. It is one of the most beautiful natural areas in Peru. Not for nothing was it considered one of the most important places for the Incas. Not counting Machu Picchu, the valley is full of Inca architectural jewels that are steeped in history. The great Urubamba River runs through most of the Valley and provides water to most of it. Pisac has amazing temples finely carved in stone and a few agricultural terraces to appreciate. So it is a site that you cannot ignore. Know all about the beautiful Pisac ruins!
Everything you need to know about the archaeological site of Pisac
- What is Pisac?
- Regarding the ruins of Pisac
- History of Pisac
- Where is Pisac located?
- How to get there?
- What to expect on the Pisac tour
- Hike to Pisac
- Alternative things to see and do
- Tips to consider
WHAT IS PISAC?
Pisac is one of the towns that make up the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The small town of Pisac is well known for hosting the Inca ruins of the same name. These ruins attract thousands of tourists who enjoy the well-known tours of the Sacred Valley. These ruins are well known for their platform system and carved stone enclosures. The small town is also a great center of attractions where you can enjoy local tourism. Even the hike to the ruins begins in the picturesque town.
The Pisac ruins are widely acclaimed as some of the best stone works, becoming comparable to those of Machu Picchu. The Pisac ruins are divided into four main areas: Pisaqa, Intihuatana, Q’allaqasa, and Kinchiracay. You will find the astronomical and ceremonial area, overlapping terraces, a residential settlement, and the largest Inca cemetery in these places. In fact, it is the oldest in South America.
For those adventurous hikers, they can reach the Pisac ruins through a short trek. The ruins are a steep 90-minute walk, depending on your fitness level. This hike is intermediate to advanced level with uphill sections and steep steps. But without a doubt, the hike is worth it. You will get magnificent and spectacular panoramic views up and down of the Sacred Valley and the Peruvian Andes. Approximately 3-4 hours are perfect for a complete tour of the Pisac ruins. On the contrary, if you are not sure you can go up but you like hiking, you can take a taxi to the ruins of Pisac. And then walk down, which will take about 45 minutes on foot. It’s definitely a great idea too; you will enjoy an impressive walk back to the traditional town of Pisac.
REGARDING THE RUINS OF PISAC
The astonishing ruins are located high above the valley floor and the modern colonial city of Pisac. The Inca archaeological site is considered one of the best-preserved in Peru, so it is not surprising to be one of the tours in the region. The entire site is spread over a vast and large green area, so exploring the complex can take some time. Within the site, you can find a residential settlement, ceremonial baths, and the largest Inca cemetery in South America.
You can also explore the finely carved pink granite temple complex further down the mountain, with different water channels, wells, a temple of the sun, and much more. The entire archaeological site is surrounded by numerous agricultural terraces that blend harmoniously with the landscape. Some historians suggest that the word Pisac derives from the word “Pisaca” which means Partridge. They even suggest that the numerous agricultural terraces represent the wings of a Partridge. If you are looking to explore Peru, we recommend that you visit these wonderful Inca ruins.
HISTORY OF PISAC
Pottery remains found in the area indicate that the region has been occupied for a long time. There is evidence that there were pre-Inca settlements between the slopes of the Vilcanota river tributaries called Quitamayo and Chongo. The community of Pisac saw its boom with the agricultural terraces and its alluvial plains. But as the threat of attack from outside tribes weakened, the villagers moved closer and closer to the regions near the main roads that now depart from Cusco and Urcos.
When the Inca Empire conquered the area, they built magnificent buildings on the ridge of the mountain. Today it offers an incredible view of the current location of the city. But, when was Pisac built? The consensus states that it was built by the Inca emperor Pachacuti, not before 1440. Many scholars have concluded that Pachacuti built it as a multifunctional residence. It works as a castle, observatory, and religious place. The site offers a real refuge isolated from the capital. People believe that here is where the Panacea (family and offspring of the Inca) relaxed and had religious ceremonies.
WHERE IS PISAC LOCATED?
Pisac is located at the eastern end of the Sacred Valley map. Just 1-hour drive from the beautiful Imperial City. The archaeological complex can be seen from the road, along the mountainside, just behind the village. Specifically, it is located about 34 kilometers from Cusco, and there are numerous ways to get there. It can be reached by the road that leads to the beautiful ruins of Sacsayhuaman. Like Cusco and the different towns in the Valley, the Ruins of Pisac are located high up. The ruins are located 3,300 meters above sea level, while the city is only 2,974 meters above sea level. The town is relatively lower than Cusco, so it is also an excellent destination to acclimatize to the altitude. In addition, the beautiful traditional city has different establishments and luxury hotels to enjoy. You will find cheap accommodation options as other much more exclusive alternatives.
HOW TO GET THERE?
How do you get to Pisac ruins? To get to the amazing archaeological site of Pisac you can do it in several ways. One of the best ways to get to know the archaeological site is through a hike from the small town. Although if you are not a fan of hiking, you can also take a taxi from anywhere in the city. The taxi is usually not expensive at all and it will save you a little time. On the main road of Urubamba, you will find several taxis specialized in taking tourists to the site.
Make sure to arrange with the taxi driver to take you to the entrance and not to the checkpoint. Although certain tours of the Sacred Valley already usually include transportation and entrance to the site. If you are looking to visit Cusco, make sure to enjoy these wonderful places surrounded by enchanting landscapes.
WHAT TO EXPECT ON THE PISAC TOUR
You can visit Pisac and the Peruvian ruins in various ways. You can buy the Cusco Tourist Ticket at their respective offices and enjoy various wonders including Ollantaytambo. Or you can also hire a private tour with us or any other tour operator. Although also if you wish you can simply go on your own and buy your ticket in the same archaeological complex. Whichever way you choose, you will be able to enjoy one of the best Inca sites along the Sacred Valley.
Once at the entrance, you will be able to appreciate a huge set of agricultural terraces. If you continue along the busiest road, you will reach the neighborhood of Q’alla Q’asa located on the side of the mountain. There you will be able to appreciate a series of ceremonial baths fed by a complex network of channels. If you continue the path along the hillside you will reach the main entrance of the temples. The undulating path continues until it reaches a narrow tunnel. As you exit the tunnel, you will be able to appreciate the beautiful residential and agricultural area known as Pisaca or Q’allaqasa.
The truth is that the archaeological complex has a lot to offer. For example, the temple complex or the ceremonial center is made up of a dozen buildings. All built with impeccable masonry work. The Temple of the Sun and the Intiwatana are the centerpiece of the site. This temple is perfectly aligned with the dawn of the winter solstice. But, what was Pisac used for? We can deduce that like other sites, it had a ceremonial, astronomical and religious function for the Incas. But having several sites we can say that the Pisac complex was multifunctional. From the temple complex, the trail continues to a viewpoint. Although other trails can lead you to the other parts of the beautiful complex.
HIKE TO PISAC
The hike is suitable for anyone of any age. As long as you have a good disposition and will to see amazing Inca ruins. In general, most of the trail goes downhill except for the first section that can go from top to bottom. Also, the path follows the mountainside, making it quite difficult to get lost. The entire route is well signposted. Nonetheless, we recommend enjoying this route with a certified guide. The Pisac hike from the top to the traditional market does not usually take more than 2 hours. But of course, the time can vary depending on how long you walk through the ruins and the type of tour you choose to do.
The hike to the Pisac ruins is one of the best ways to start your tour. Although you can get there by taxi, the walk offers unprecedentedly different views. From the small town, you can follow the path that leads to the back of the town and slowly climbs up the mountain towards the ruins. When you reach the top you will have to make your way through the different buses and taxis stuck in the parking lot. You will be able to appreciate the different terraces that descend the side of the mountain. One of the best family vacation ideas is to take advantage of the different trails that lead to little-known areas of these wonderful places.
ALTERNATIVE THINGS TO SEE AND DO
Pisac is much more than an archaeological site, it is also its wonderful and picturesque town as its iconic market. The archaeological complex bears the same name as the picturesque village. The town is surrounded by beautiful mountains. Its beautiful square and church are some of the busiest places. The main archaeological spots of the Pisac ruins are the Intiwatana, Torreones or Pucaras, Barrio de Tianayuc, Barrio de Pisaq’a, Barrio de K’alla Q’asa, and Barrio de Qanchis Raqay. While the Pisac ruins are the main attraction of the town, there are other interesting and attractive places you can include as a part of your tour in Pisac.
The town itself hosts a traditional market which is one of the most famous in Cusco. It draws many visitors to the Sacred Valley, especially on Sundays. This authentic and colorful market was an important commercial place for centuries. You can find hand-painted ceramics, articles related to the Inca culture, hand-woven products of alpaca fiber, jewelry, and other handicrafts, as well as food, fruits, and vegetables. The Pisac market is one of the best places to find souvenirs to buy in Peru. Besides, the town is surrounded by majestic and stunning Andean mountains to marvel yourself. Is Pisac worth visiting? Of course, it is one of the main places to visit in the Sacred Valley. A remarkable visit has to include this kind of natural beauty, don’t you think?
TIPS TO CONSIDER
Despite being a route suitable for all audiences, here are some tips to take into account. These will make your experience a much better one.
- Wear comfortable hiking boots, to avoid sprains and accidents, and also clothing for high altitude and outdoor hikes
- Be prepared for extreme sun, cold, and possible rain. So, bring layers of clothing for sudden changes in temperature.
- Bring water in your backpack and some snacks. A small bottle of water will be vital for the walk, although there are also often street vendors.
- To understand the history of the Pisac ruins, we suggest hiring a tour guide. Most tours include this service, but it is possible to hire one at the front door.
- Make sure to bring sunscreen. As the hike can be quite exposed to the sun. Avoid burning yourself!
- The ruins are open every day of the year from 7 AM to 6 PM
- You will need at least a Partial Tourist Ticket to enter the ruins of Pisac.
- If you are traveling during the rainy season, we recommend doing the trek in the morning. Since the most frequent rains occur during the afternoon.
- The hike is well signposted. But if you’re not sure which way to go, remember that the mountain should stay on your right.
“A RUIN SHOULD ALWAYS BE PROTECTED BUT NEVER REPAIRED – THUS MAY WE WITNESS FULL THE LINGERING LEGACIES OF THE PAST.”
We hope that this little guide on the Pisac ruins has been helpful to you. Without a doubt, the views and constructions of Pisac come to rival those of Machu Picchu. Not for nothing is it considered one of the most popular attractions in the Sacred Valley. The Machu Travel Peru team hopes to have encouraged you a bit. If you want to know more about everything that this magical Sacred Valley has in store, you can consult with our team of advisors. They will be happy to help you with the tours of the beautiful Sacred Valley of the Incas.