The temple complex of Raqchi

Having been in Peru for a couple of weeks and spending most of our time amongst ancient Inca ruins I feel like this blog has gotten a bit too archaeological. However, on our way from Cusco to Puno we stopped off at a quite different but equally wonderful set of Inca ruins in Raqchi. I guess that is the thing about the Incas, they constructed an amazing array of towns, forts and ceremonial centres in little more than a century of empire building and they are everywhere you go in Peru.

Set amidst beautiful countryside and surrounded by imposing mountains on a clear, crisp morning Raqchi is an impressive and moving sight, and one that could be easily overlooked as you speed past the modern-day village on the road between Cusco and Puno.

Temple complex at Raqchi, Peru

Raqchi was a major religious centre and home to a temple complex and palace that housed the great and the good of the Inca world. It is also home to a unique set of approximately 100 circular buildings that were used as storehouses for foodstuffs to be used for ceremonial purposes and to distribute to people when harvests were poor.

Circular storehouses at the Raqchi temple complex, Peru

Circular storehouses at the Raqchi temple complex, Peru

Circular storehouses at the Raqchi temple complex, Peru

Being circular rather than square or rectangular, the storehouses are unlike virtually any other building in the Inca empire. No one knows why they are circular, but it is likely to be symbolism to do with Raqchi’s role as a religious and ceremonial centre.

Temple of Wiracocha, Raqchi, Peru

The most impressive building is the Temple of Wiracocha, which is an imposing two storey building about 100 metres long. Prior to the Spanish conquest and the subsequent destruction of Raqchi this building is believed to have had the largest roof anywhere in the Inca world. I know that doesn’t sound particularly impressive, but roofs are hard to build and this just highlights the mastery of the Inca as architects and builders.

Wiracocha was the Inca Creator God and is believed to have performed a miracle at the site where the temple was built. The whole complex is large, comprising a residential section and a palace for Inca nobility as well as the temple and storehouses, testimony to the importance the Inca placed on the site as a religious centre.

The temple complex at Raqchi, Peru

The temple complex is probably the best surviving example of Inca adobe building in Peru. Which is pretty amazing given the site has suffered the destruction of the Spanish, seismic activity and the degradation of the weather over several centuries – and adobe is only mud. It is also one of the best places to see the unique Inca construction technique where the lower half of the wall is adobe and the upper half is stone.

Remains of Inca palace at Raqchi, Peru

Bird of pray sits on a wall at Raqchi, Peru

Surrounding the site, and still in use by villagers today, are a number of Inca agricultural terraces. According to our guide the whole site was also enclosed by an enormous wall that skirted the hilltops around the site and was six feet thick and very high. Unfortunately not much of this wall remains as the Spanish used the stone to construct a church and village at the site.

Modern day Raqchi with Inca terracing still in use, Peru

6 thoughts on “The temple complex of Raqchi

    • Hi Amiramelody, it sounds like the same trip, a really nice way of getting between Cusco and Puno with a few stops and some more history and culture. Thanks for stopping by and sorry for the delay responding, I’ve been in the Atacama Desert in Chile for a few days…but that’s another story.

      • That was definitely a trip I’m glad I took! I feel like I got to see a lot more of Peru than Lima and Cuzco showed me. No worries about the delay, I know that traveling is much more important to focus on! Cheers!

        • Totally agree, seeing some small villages was a really change of pace after Cusco. Haven’t been to Lima yet but have heard the food is great but the traffic is terrible. Do you think it’s worth the trip?

        • I definitely think it’s worth the trip! Yes, the traffic is busy and probably a culture shock if you are coming from Cuzco or smaller cities. I highly recommend La Mar Cebicheria – the food is AMAZING! Also, La Rosa Nautica is on a pier, which is nice ambiance and Parque del Amor was great. I also really enjoyed the tour I took of the catacombs under San Francisco Monastery. Barranco is a neighborhood that I really enjoyed which is right next to Miraflores. I hope you enjoy if you decide to go!

        • Brilliant, thanks for the info. Will be heading to Peru again in March or April and will hopefully pass through Lima en route to do some trekking in the Cordillera Blanca. Best, Paul

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