huaca Huallamarca, lima, peru

Huaca Huallamarca, archaeological site in Lima

South America

In the heart of Lima's wealthiest neighborhood lie the ruins of a temple older than Christ. It is the Huaca Huallamarca, a pre-Columbian, pre-Inca and pre-Lima pyramid, to name three of the civilizations that once dominated this region of Peru.

One of the main communities of the Pinazo, a people who inhabited this part of South America from the 1st century BC, today Huaca Huallamarca is a neighbor of important people. Pedro Pablo Kuscynscki, the PPK, president of the country, has a house on Calle Choquehuanca, the street behind the ruins. Valued at 1.3 million dollars, the PPK house is just one of the politicians' residences located in San Isidro, the neighborhood where Huaca Huallamarca is located.

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Just pay the five soles charged at the entrance and face the ramp that allows you to climb the clay pyramid. Five minutes later, from the highest point of a place that had already been considered sacred two millennia ago, a city with 8 million inhabitants appears.

As imposing as the ruins are, what is impressive is trying to understand how such an ancient place ended up surrounded by one of the largest metropolises on the planet. If Italy has Rome, Peru has Lima. And, I'll tell you, the Peruvian capital has as much history to tell as the ancient seat of the Romans.

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Huaca Huallamarca: a little history

In Andean culture, Huaca is the place where deities are worshiped. Huallamarca is a modern name, chosen by anthropologist Julio César Tello Rojas, who studied the ruins during the 1930s. It was shortly before this period that they were rediscovered, attracting travelers and researchers from the end of the 19th century.

And Huaca Huallamarca almost disappeared from the map forever: there were even demolition projects, so that the metropolis could swallow the past once and for all. In 1950, a project was launched to transform the entire area into a public park, an attempt that was also aborted. Fortunately. The restoration began in the following years and was led by a doctor who was very into archeology called Arturo Jiménez Borja.

huaca Huallamarca, Lima, Peru

His lack of experience had consequences and the restoration ended up not preserving the original characteristics of the pyramid, which looked very similar to Mexican buildings. It's okay, Arturo, we forgive you for that. At least you helped ensure that these ruins weren't buried by real estate speculation.

Originally the Huaca Huallamarca was a ceremonial center 20 meters high and with a base of 85 meters. The ramp that today leads to the top of the building is one of the modern changes sponsored by Arturo's imagination, as is the structure on three platforms. In the shape of a truncated pyramid, the original construction had an affectionate nickname, due to its shape: Pan de Azúcar.

huaca Huallamarca, Lima, Peru

After it stopped being a religious center and housing, Huaca Huallamarca was transformed into a cemetery. It is possible to see how bodies were buried there, as well as some mummies that were found in excavations. The people who lived in this region after the Pinazo also buried their dead there.

In addition to going up the ramp (and forgetting that it exists right after, trying to imagine the original construction), go to the small museum at the foot of the Huaca, where objects found during excavations are kept.

Huaca Huallamarca is located on the corners of El Rosario and Nicolas de Rivera avenues, in the San Isidro neighborhood. Entrance costs five soles and opening hours are 9am to 5pm, Tuesday to Sunday.

huaca Huallamarca, Lima, Peru

Huaca Pucllana and Pachacámac

Huaca Huallamarca is the least known of Lima's pre-Inca ruins. The most famous is Huaca Pucllana, which is in Miraflores, another very traditional neighborhood. According to some researchers, this temple has seen it all. Even human sacrifices.

The other archaeological site is in the metropolitan region of the capital. It is the Sanctuary of Pachacamac, which occupies a huge area and played an important role in the history of the conquest of the Incas by the Spanish. Find out what this visit is like here.

*360meridianos traveled to Peru at the invitation of Submarino Viagens and PromPerú.

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