Choquequirao, last refuge of the Incas

Perched high in the Andes Mountains, lies the ancient Inca city of Choquequirao, a place of breathtaking beauty and historical significance. This Inca city is often referred to as the “sister city” of Machu Picchu. Choquequirao remained hidden and unknown to the outside world until the 20th century. Despite its remote location, the city served as a significant refuge for the Incas during the Spanish conquest of Peru. 

Today, Choquequirao remains shrouded in mystery. Its terraces, buildings, and ceremonial platforms still stand strong, telling the story of a once-great civilization. This article will delve into the history of Choquequirao, exploring its significance to the Inca people, and the efforts being made to preserve this remarkable site for future generations.

History of Choquequirao

Choquequirao is an ancient Inca city located in the Vilcabamba range of the Andes Mountains in Peru. It is believed that Choquequirao was built in the 15th, during the reign of the Inca emperor Pachacuti. It probably was used as a royal estate and a pilgrimage site. 

After the Spanish conquest, the city was abandoned and left hidden for centuries. Then, it was rediscovered by the American explorer Hiram Bingham in the early 20th century. Bingham’s rediscovery of the nearby city of Machu Picchu overshadowed Choquequirao’s importance. Thus, the site remained largely unknown and unexplored for several decades.

In recent years, efforts have been made to promote and preserve Choquequirao, as it is recognized as an important piece of Inca history and culture. The site is accessible only by foot and remains largely unexcavated. Only a small portion of the city is being exposed to visitors. Nonetheless, the site’s terraces, buildings, and ceremonial platforms provide a glimpse into the Inca civilization’s remarkable architectural achievements.

Choquequirao, last refuge of the Incas

Significance of the citadel

Choquequirao is a site of great significance for both its historical and cultural importance. Built during the height of the Inca empire, the city was a center for religious worship and political administration. The city’s architectural design and location reflect the Inca’s deep connection with nature. Thus, Choquequirao was constructed in harmony with the surrounding mountains and valleys.

The city also played a significant role during the Spanish conquest of Peru. Choquequirao was used as a refuge by Inca rebels fleeing from the Spanish conquistadors. Thus, it holds great symbolic value as a last bastion of Inca resistance.

One of the most striking features of Choquequirao is its terracing. Choquequirao’s terraces allowed the Inca people to cultivate crops on the steep slopes of the Andes Mountains. The site’s terraces are a testament to the Inca advanced knowledge of agriculture and their ability to adapt to challenging environments. The terracing system also highlights the Inca sophisticated engineering skills, as the walls were built to withstand earthquakes and landslides.

The buildings of Choquequirao are another impressive aspect of the site. The city’s main plaza is lined with well-preserved stone structures, including residential buildings, storage units, and ceremonial temples. The construction of these buildings is a testament to the Inca architectural prowess. These ancient Inca structures were built using precisely cut and fitted stones without the use of mortar. Also, Choquequirao displays a similar architecture to other Inca ruins such as Ollantaytambo, which is located in the Sacred Valley

Choquequirao, last refuge of the Incas

Efforts to preserve the site

Efforts to preserve Choquequirao have been ongoing for several decades, as the site faces threats from looting, environmental degradation, and tourism. Several organizations and individuals have been working to protect and promote the site’s cultural and historical significance.

One of the most significant efforts to preserve Choquequirao has been the establishment of the Choquequirao Archaeological Park. The park’s objective is to protect the site’s natural and cultural resources and to promote sustainable tourism in the area. The park is managed by the National Institute of Culture (INC). This government agency works in collaboration with local communities to protect the site.

Another significant effort to protect Choquequirao has been the implementation of conservation projects. These projects include the stabilization of the site’s structures, the construction of drainage systems to prevent water damage, and the installation of signage to educate visitors about the site’s significance. These conservation projects are crucial to ensuring that the site remains intact for future generations.

In addition to conservation efforts, the promotion of sustainable tourism has been a focus for the preservation of Choquequirao. Sustainable tourism practices aim to minimize the negative impact of tourism on the environment and cultural resources while providing economic benefits to local communities. Efforts to promote sustainable tourism in the area have included the development of community-based tourism initiatives and the implementation of environmental education programs.

The efforts to preserve Choquequirao are ongoing, and there is still much work to be done to protect the site. However, the establishment of the Choquequirao Archaeological Park, the implementation of conservation projects, and the promotion of sustainable tourism practices provide hope that the site’s cultural and historical significance will be protected for future generations to appreciate and learn from.

Choquequirao, last refuge of the Incas

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