Pisac Ruins - History and Facts | History Hit

Pisac Ruins

Pisac, Cusco, Peru

The ruins are Pisac are the remains of an impressive Inca settlement which was abandoned in the 1530s.

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Pisac Ruins

The Pisac ruins, located next to the modern town of the same name, are the remains of an impressive ancient Inca settlement.

Pisac Ruins history

Though little is known as to the history of the site before the Spanish conquest, Pisac was probably used as a ceremonial and military centre. The site was abandoned and fell to ruin after the conquest in the 1530s.

The exact date of construction is unknown, but the ruins are believed to be either a gift to Inca nobility, or a defence against the invasion of Cusco. What is certain is that the site served more than one function. With military, religious, and agricultural structures, the site served at least three purposes and was able to support a whole community, even a small city, of Incas.

The Pisac ruins are among Peru’s most intact ancient sites and a perfect example of ingenious Inca architecture. They are built on top of a mountain that towers over the small town of Pisac. The views of the countryside are spectacular and the ruins and their makers are remarkable.

Pisac Ruins today

Today the ruins of Pisac sit above a looming hilltop above the modern town and contain some of the best examples of Inca ruins in existence. Alongside the vast and impressive agricultural terraces surrounding the hillside, the platform built at the top contains the remains of a fortress and temple complex. Among the structures which can be seen here are the ruins of the Temple of the Sun, ceremonial baths, altars and fortified walls.

Hiking up from town, visitors encounter the fortress that looks out over the valley towards Cusco. In addition to being a lookout post, it could also be armed to defend the one road that leads to the top and to the rest of the city. The two most striking buildings are the temple, which displays the smooth and precise stonework that the Incas are famous for, and the many-roomed city that is perched on top of the mountain.

There is also a market on Sundays which is popular with tourists who come to the area to see the ruins.

Getting to the Pisac Ruins

The hike up to the ruins is scenic but strenuous so some visitors may choose to take a taxi both up and down or for one leg of the journey. To get to the top visitors need to pick up a trail that starts just left of the church in the Plaza de Armas. The hike goes straight up to the top and takes about two hours.