Huaca Pucllana – The hidden gem at the heart of Lima
Buried in the heart of one of the busiest city’s in the world is a one-and-a-half thousand year monument that defies urban sprawl.
Surrounded by residential homes, a five minute walk from a busy shopping and restaurant area and situated in a metropolis of approaching nine million people, Huaca Pucllana is an incredible site.
The city in question is Lima, the sprawling capital of Peru, and Huaca Pucllana is placed in the middle of its more leafy Miraflores district.
The monument itself is an adobe pyramid structure, built around 500AD by Pre-Inca civilisations, where priests conducted religious ceremonies – including sacrifices – to honour their Gods and ancestors.
The pyramid itself is an impressive 500 metres long, more than 100 metres wide, 22 metres high, and is surrounded by smaller buildings, squares, ramps, patios and storage rooms.
Incredibly, professional investigations only started in the middle of the 20th century when the top of the pyramid was exposed, and the site was only recognised as a historical park in 1991.
Visitors to Huaca Pucllana are given a tour by an excellent local guide – although, beware, it can get pretty hot and there is little to no protection from the sun so make sure you take a hat and plenty of water.
The first Limeños used the site as a base for their daily labours, including fishing, working on the plantations, gathering and hunting, manufacturing of handicrafts, textiles, basketry and tools for agriculture.
Around 700AD, the Wari overthrew all other cultures on the coast of Peru and for a time Pucllana would have been abandoned.
It was later used by the Wari as a burial place, although these graves were destroyed by the Ichma, a tribe who worshipped Pachacámac – the Lord of the World.
After some time, Huaca Pucllana was only used for performing sacrifices and worshipping, and by the time the Incas arrived it was already was considered a ñaupallaqta or old sacred village.
Work still continues on the site now with estimates suggesting the pyramid won’t be fully uncovered within the next 50 years.
Mummified remains have been found at the site and it still exudes an aura of ancient knowledge and sacred history.
But, for me, the most incredible part of visiting Huaca Pucllana is emerging out of the hustle and bustle of the city to find this little piece of history nestling among the skyscrapers and flats.
And then to stand at the top of the pyramid and look out from 500AD onto the 21st century.