Inca Empire Archaeological Sites

The Ruins of the Inca Empire

The Inca Empire ruled over the Andean mountains and beyond of what are today the modern countries of Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina, including an area of nearly one million square kilometers (about 386,000 square miles) and extending a length of 4,000 kilometers (2500 miles) from north to south along the great South American continent.

Archaeological sites of the Incan empire range in size and complexity from villages to temples to lonely waystations to isolated ritual burial sites and enormous metropolises like Cuzco: but the best known and most visited of these sites are the ceremonial centers such as Machu Picchu and Ollantaytambo.

Double Jamb Doorway at Ollantaytambo
Double Jamb Doorway at Ollantaytambo. Ed Nellis

Ollantaytambo is an Incan royal estate and ceremonial center, built for Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui in the 15th century AD. It is remarkable for its pinkish color, and its storage facilities, granaries built into the side of the nearby mountain. More »

Qoricancha Temple and the Church of Santa Domingo in Cusco Peru
Qoricancha Temple and the Church of Santa Domingo in Cusco Peru. Ed Nellis

The Coricancha was the religious center of the Inca empire at Cuzco, the starting point of the shrine and pilgrimage route of the Inca ceque system. At the eye of Cuzco's puma, the Coricancha was reported by the conquering Spanish to have been clad in gold plate. Today it is the foundation of the Church of Santo Domingo in Cuzco. More »

Gate Structures at Rumiqolqa
Gate Structures at Rumiqolqa. Håkan Svensson (Xauxa)
The quarry site of Rumiqolqa was used by the Inca as a source for the quartzite which makes up much of the archaeological sites of Machu Picchu and Sacsayman, as well as many of the communities in Cuzco

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Choquequirao (Peru)

Upper Plaza Group at Choquequirao
Upper Plaza Group at Choquequirao. Mark Rowland (Roubicek)
The site of Choquequirao is yet another elite residence and ceremonial center of the Inca, probably built by the emperor Topa Inca Yupanqui, who ruled between 1471 and 1493. It has architectural styles to the conquered Chachapoya state, including some delightful inlaid art work


Cerro Llullaillaco
Cerro Llullaillaco. Municipalidad de Antofagasta

Llullaillaco is the name of a mountain in the Andes of modern day Argentina. Up on its peak was found three niche tombs, remainders of child burials sacrificed during the Inca capacocha ceremony in the 15th century AD

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Sacsaywaman (Peru)

This corner of Sacsaywaman's zigzag megalithic monument is over 18 feet tall.
This corner of Sacsaywaman's zigzag megalithic monument is over 18 feet tall. Ed Nellis

Sacsaywaman, pronounced something like "sexy woman" is an Incan ceremonial center, and the only known Incan site that can truly be called megalithic. Its largest stones are six to seven times as large as the largest at Stonehenge. And... Sacsaywaman is blue.

Q'enqo - Inca Astronomical Observatory
Q'enqo - Inca Astronomical Observatory. Ed Nellis
Q'enqo, sometimes spelled Kenko, is actually four different shrines on the Inca Road near Sacsaywaman. The best known, Q'enqo Grande, includes an astronomical purpose, only shreds of which remain after the Spanish conquered Cuzco and did their best to destroy such blasphemies. More »
Cusco Peru at Dawn
Cusco Peru at Dawn. Matt Riggott
The modern day city of Cuzco, Peru is located in the Andes Mountains of Peru was founded, according to legend, by Manco Capac, the founder of the Inca civilization. Unlike many ancient capitals, Cuzco was primarily a governmental and religious capital, with few residential structures. Cuzco was the Inca capital city, from the mid 15th century up until it was conquered by the Spanish in 1532

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Machu Picchu Overview
Machu Picchu Overview. Ed Nellis
Machu Picchu is surely the best known Inca archaeological site, and perhaps one of most famous sites in the world. Machu Picchu was built in the 15th century by the Inca emperor Pachucuti, as an elite residence and ceremonial center

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Pachacamac (Peru)

Street in the City of Pachacamac
Street in the City of Pachacamac. Luis Tamayo (Chasqui)
Pachacamac is an enormous ceremonial center located on the coast of Peru near the modern town of Lima. Pachacamac was used for religious purposes for the major cultures in the Andean region, including Wari, Yschma and Inca period. During the Inca period, the site became a cult center for the pan-Andean cult


Chan Chan (Peru)
Chan Chan (Peru). TravelingMan
Chan Chan was the capital of the Chimu culture, a group which fell, like so many others, to the Incan empire in the 14th century AD

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Oroncota (Bolivia)

Oroncota or Huruncuta was a military outpost of the Inca empire in what is today Bolivia, conquered under the Inca king Topa Inca Yupanqui, who ruled the Inca between 1471-1493.

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Hirst, K. Kris. "Inca Empire Archaeological Sites." ThoughtCo, Aug. 9, 2016, Hirst, K. Kris. (2016, August 9). Inca Empire Archaeological Sites. Retrieved from Hirst, K. Kris. "Inca Empire Archaeological Sites." ThoughtCo. (accessed November 17, 2017).