When traveling to Lima, whether for pleasure or work, most visitors stay in or nearby the district of Miraflores. Even though they may have little time to explore the city, the opportunity to learn about the pre-Columbian history of Lima is not to be missed. La Huaca Pucllana is one of the must-visit archeological sites in Miraflores.
For this, there’s no better way than visiting a “huaca”– the sacred archaeological sites of the Peruvian coast. This city, on the Pacific Ocean front, has passed through the reign of several different cultures during the course of recent centuries. There are more than 360 archaeological sites that still stand in metropolitan Lima, even though many such pre-Hispanic structures were destroyed during urbanization.
Short History: Huaca Pucllana
The valuation of cultural heritage is a very recent issue in the city of Lima and one of much conflict. One of the few architectural monuments that has been valued and protected for more than 30 years is the Huaca Pucllana, located in the central district.
Visits to Huaca Pucllana are only permitted accompanied by guides who specialize in the investigations of the most recent archaeological findings. The huaca is thought to have served as an administrative and religious center of the Lima Culture (100 to 700 AD), which existed around the same time as the Nasca and Mochica cultures, and preceded the Incas.
Pucllana is built just minutes from the sea—a strategic location to control the territory. As expected, the Lima were fishermen and good divers, and there is evidence of consumption of shells and species such as anchovy or albacore, which live more than 100 meters deep. Its luxury objects, as well as its decorative art of marine motifs, were simple unlike the Nasca or Wari. The Lima people were architects who built with mud in several different techniques such as “tapial” (a style of constructing with kneaded earth) and “adobitos” (a specific style of adobe building).
The great pyramid, which is located about 15 minutes walk from the piers, is a stepped structure with several large courtyards at different levels that are accessed through zigzagging ramps and long corridors. After the occupation of the Lima, the pyramid was inhabited by the Wari Culture who expanded their territories from Ayacucho and used the monument as an elite cemetery. The human remains that have been found in the excavations include a high priest, a fisherman teacher, “the Lady of the Quipus” and master weavers.
Pucllana receives nearly 100,000 visitors per year, and almost half of them are Peruvians, a fact that speaks well of the huaca. If a tourist site interests the locals, it must be worth a visit! In addition to the archaeological site, the location offers a small museum, a handicraft shop, an exhibition of native flora and fauna, interesting cultural programming, and a gourmet restaurant offering Peruvian dishes.
Visitors can take the day tour or choose to visit at night, although the night tour does not allow access to the interior of the pyramid. It is an unforgettable experience for adult travelers and children alike.