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Peru: Huaca Pucllana

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Huaca Pucllana > Peru > Americas

[Visited: January 2011]

Walking from San Isidro to Miraflores, I came across fancy restaurants, a church which had a remarkable exterior, a supermarket and and a busy roundabout with lots of traffic. At one point, I asked for directions to Huaca Pucllana but the persons I asked did not have a clue. When I turned into a small street, I saw a light brown coloured structure in the distance and immediately realized that that must be my destination for the late morning. The entrance appeared to be on the other side, which gave me the opportunity to walk around this ancient structure. From street level, the pyramid looked impressive, and I was curious to be able to explore the area inside the fence.

Picture of Huaca Pucllana (Peru): Pyramid with walls made of adobe bricks in the foreground

At the entrance, I found out that it is not allowed to walk the ruins alone, and I had to wait for the first tour to start. Where I normally don't like to be in a group tour, there was no escaping this time; at least, I would get some additional information about the pyramid and its history. After a short wait, I was on the way with a Peruvian guide and an international group. One of the first things we learned, was that Pucllana means game in Quechua, making Huaca Pucllana a place for games. The pyramid was constructed for offerings in the Lima culture period. Ominously, the guide told us that also humans were sacrificed to the gods here. The Lima culture existed on the Pacific coast of Peru between 200 and 700 CE, and the pyramid was constructed around 500 CE. However, the pyramid was apparently in constant construction, with new layers built on top of others. The area was mostly in use by priests who had their administrative centre here. Regular people were probably allowed to enter the administrative part and come close to the pyramid during ceremonies, but not to climb the pyramid itself.

Picture of Huaca Pucllana (Peru): Standing stone on a floor in Huaca Pucllana

The Huaca Pucllana site consists of several areas: an administrative area where we saw old walls, with vertical clay bricks sustaining walls that reached over 4 metres high. Another area was the central plaza, and then, the pyramid itself on which seven platforms can be distinguished. We climbed it, passing workers who were still busy excavating the ruins, and reached the top where yellow paint can still be seen on some of the walls. We also came across a quite large platform with holes at irregular intervals: here, offerings were made to the gods, often consisting of fish or shellfish. At several places, we even saw old pieces of wood stick out of the ground: they once were poles used to uphold clothes for protection against the sunlight. From the top of the pyramid, the peculiar position of the pyramid could be appreciated more: the contrast between the old bricks and their stories, and the modern high-rise buildings could not be bigger. According to our guide, the ruins continued below the buildings we saw around Huaca Pucllana. The luxury of having such a rich history: some of it just gets hidden below present-day structures. The sun was right above our heads when we reached the exit of the ruins complex, and were back to the 21st century.

Picture of Huaca Pucllana (Peru): Modern buildings of Miraflores right next to the pyramid of Huaca Pucllana
Picture of Huaca Pucllana (Peru): The pyramid of Huaca Pucllana seen from below
Picture of Huaca Pucllana (Peru): The pyramid consists of various walls
Picture of Huaca Pucllana (Peru): Vertical bricks making the highest wall of Huaca Pucllana
Picture of Huaca Pucllana (Peru): The main plaza below the pyramid
Picture of Huaca Pucllana (Peru): Modern buildings of Miraflores behind the pyramid of Huaca Pucllana
Picture of Huaca Pucllana (Peru): Adobe bricks in the highest wall of Huaca Pucllana
Picture of Huaca Pucllana (Peru): The top of the pyramid: one of the platforms
Picture of Huaca Pucllana (Peru): Offerings were made on this platform
Picture of Huaca Pucllana (Peru): Looking into the Miraflores district over the ruins
Picture of Huaca Pucllana (Peru): Small areas marked with stones on one of the floors
Picture of Huaca Pucllana (Peru): Working on the ruins of Huaca Pucllana
Picture of Huaca Pucllana (Peru): Lima priests with vase with shark painted on it

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