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Puca Pucara
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Archaeological Site of Puca Pucara

Puca Pucara is an Inca archaeological site located on the outskirts of the city of Cusco, which houses different areas such as squares, water channels, bathrooms, terraces and even an ancient Inca road that was part of the network of Inca roads’ qhapac ñan ‘. Its buildings were built with small and medium-sized stones. The ‘Tourist Ticket of Cusco’ allows entry to this and other places such as: Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo and Tambomachay.



puca pucara Cusco enclosure
Archaeological Site of Puca Pucara 7 km from Main Square of Cusco

Archaeological site of Puca Pucara

  • Puca Pucara is a name of Quechua origin that means ‘red fortress’. Its name is due to the tonality of its buildings at sunset.
  • The chronicles show that its constructions were started by a culture that preceded the Incas. Later, in the expansionist era of Emperor Pachacutec (1400 – 1471) , these were improved. The Spanish did not damage many of its structures so they are kept in good condition.
  • The Puca Pucara structures were built with calcareous stone located on the site. These, unlike other Inca enclosures, are medium and small joined with great precision. The place has terraces, walls, aqueducts, squares, stairways, which are divided into 3 levels: first level, second level and third level. These levels are reached through stone steps.

Location

  • The archaeological site of Puca Pucara is located at the top of the road that leads to Pisac, about 10 kilometers from the city of Cusco. Its altitude reaches 3,580 meters above sea level (masl).

Map to get to Puca Pucara


Mapa para llegar a Puca pucara

Map to get to Puca pucara


Wall 1

  • The lower part of the archaeological site, which has a sinuous layout. At the north end there are six rooms of different sizes that are arranged irregularly. To the west there is a small square with a trapezoidal shape, which is entered by an external staircase. In the original layout, this square was surrounded by buildings on its sides.
  • At one end of the enclosure, a section of the famous Inca trail crosses Puca Pucara. This road leads to Pisac and was part of the immense road network of up to 30 thousand kilometers called ‘qhapac ñan’ (royal road).

Wall 2

  • The set of wall 2 is accessed by means of steps made of stone from wall 1. This level has wide platforms and gardens located to the south and east of Puca Pucara. At the back of the second wall are three rooms. Two of them have a trapezoidal plan and the other, rectangular.
  • The second wall is also made with medium and small calcareous stones, which have a slight anti-seismic inclination. Due to this, the whole of Puca Pucara has remained unscathed despite several earthquakes for more than 500 years.

Wall 3

  • This wall is surrounding the top of Puca Pucara and there has been no trace of the buildings that may have existed in the place. This may be due to the fact that these walls were built with less quality than those of the first and second levels. At the top you have a good view of the entire environment of the place.

According to some chroniclers, when the Inca was about to visit the baths of Tambomachay, his retinue made up of soldiers stayed in Puca Pucara, which functioned at the same time as a barracks and tambo (resting place). Likewise, there are rumors of the existence of a chincana (tunnel) that functioned as a means of communication between these two Inca sites of great importance. Currently, Puca Pucara and Tambomachay are very visited.



Map of the archaeological site of Puca Pucára

Map of the archaeological site of Puca Pucára

What was its function?

  • Despite its good state of conservation, the function of Puca Pucara is uncertain. The existence of a section of the ‘Inca trail’ may indicate that it was a ‘tambo’ or resting place for walkers or Inca troops while the emperor rested in the baths of Tambomachay.
  • Some research also suggests that Puca Pucara is situated in the area of ​​a ‘huaca’ (sacred places or sanctuaries for the Incas). Due to this, the place was guarded by priests and visited periodically by the Inca himself.

Schedule of the visit

  • The archaeological site of Puca Pucara receives visitors every day of the year, from 7 in the morning until 6 in the afternoon.



Tours to visit Puca Pucara

  • The half-day ‘City tour Cusco’ includes a visit to Puca Pucara as well as other tourist attractions in the city of Cusco, such as: Tambomachay, Qenqo, Sacsayhuaman, Coricancha and the Cathedral.
  • The cost of these tours is approximately US $ 60 per tourist. Includes: entrance fees, transportation and tour guide.
  • You can get the tours online through a Cusco tourism agency. Another option is to acquire it in the same Cusco city.

Puca Pucara without tour

  • To visit Puca Pucara without a tour, the best option is to buy the ‘Cusco Tourist Ticket’. This ticket allows you to visit Pucapucara as well as the archaeological sites of Qenqo, Tambomachay and Sacsayhuaman.
  • The cost of the ‘Cusco Tourist Ticket’ is 70 Peruvian soles (22 US dollars, approximately).
  • You can buy the ticket at the offices on Avenida El Sol 103, just a few steps from the Main Square.


Frequently asked questions about Puca Pucara

  • a) Is it dangerous to visit Puca Pucara?

    No. The archaeological site is totally safe. It has wide paths and well-defined stairways. Altitude sickness can cause some discomfort to visitors, so it is recommended to drink plenty of water.

  • b) What should I bring to the trip?

    It is recommended to bring: rain poncho, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, a cap (or hat), comfortable clothing, hiking shoes, snacks, rehydrating water, extra cash and identity documents.

  • c) Can I get tour guides at the door of the archaeological site?

    Yes. At the entrance door of Puca Pucara you can get tour guide service. Although most visitors choose to go with the City Tour, which already includes the tour guide service.

  • d) Is there public transport to get there?

    You can go to Puca Pucara by public transport from the stop of ‘Rosaspata’ in the city of Cusco. The cost of the trip is only 1 Peruvian sol. You can go in the service called ‘Señor del Huerto’.

  • e) What is the weather like?

    The climate in Puca Pucara is temperate and cold, with temperatures that vary from 22ºC. up to 3ºC. (at night). Most visitors visit in the afternoon, when the temperature is 15ºC.

  • f) When should I go?

    According to experts, the visit is best during the dry season (from April to October). On those days the rains are not frequent and the day is sunnier. Thus, the tourist will be able to make his journey without inconvenience.

  • g) What other nearby places to visit?

    Tambomachay is located just a few steps from Puca Pucara, making it the first option for a nearby visit. Other options are to visit Qenqo and the fortress of Sacsayhuaman. Entrance to all these places is included in the ‘Cusco Tourist Ticket’.

 

By Ticket Machu Picchu – Last updated, April 29, 2021