Around Lima there are many historical and archeological sites to visit. You don’t need to leave the capital to stumble upon traces of ancient cultures that predate the Spanish conquest.
One such place is the archeological citadel of Pachacamac (200 A.D. – 1533 A.D.) This pre-Inca sanctuary, named after the Quechua word for “Creator of the World,” was one of the most important places of worship for the pre-Inca people of the Pacific coast.
Imagine thousands of pilgrims traveling hundreds of miles to seek favors and advice from their most revered god, carrying offerings to please the priests through whom their god delivered his messages. That's the history of Pachacamac
Located about 40 km/25 miles to the southeast of central Lima near the Lurin River valley, the temples are among the first discovered ruins in Peru. They offer a perfect launch-point to begin exploring the famous ruins this country has to offer.
What to do and see
Many fortresses, monuments, a great pyramid, a scattering of renovated houses, and a museum surround Pachacamac.
We suggest starting from the museum that was established in 1965 by Arturo Jiménez Borja, and is now operated by the Ministry of Culture. On exhibit are gold artifacts, ornate ceramic vessels, and textiles discovered by archeologists in and around the ancient city.
The museum displays examples of artifacts from the various people who occupied Pachacamac over its 1,500 year history. There is an entrance fee of S/8.00 for adults or S/4.00 for students, teachers, and seniors. You must bring your student I.D. to receive the discount.
Next, venture out onto the ancient cubed adobe temples that are emblematic of the coastal dwellers from the third, fourth and fifth centuries A.D. You’ll see the classic three color (black-red-white) style that is know as the Interlocking or Lima style.
The most iconic of these temples are the Templo Viejo, Templo de Urpiwachak, and Templo Pintado.
Then, explore the tombs of the Wari Empire from 500 A.D. – 1200 A.D. The best of these is the Temple de Pachacamac, which you can enter by following a zig-zag trail that leads you to a large square courtyard. According to Max Uhle, who excavated the temple in 1903, there may be up to 30,000 human remains still buried around the temple.
Finally, you can visit the adobe pyramids that were built around 1200 A.D.- 1450 A.D. Around the pyramids you’ll see small enclosures that lead to structures which were built for worshipping the Sun.
Each trail and corridor can lead you to the next great discovery.
It is recommended that you take a taxi to get to Pachacamac from Lima. The taxi should cost you between S/35.00- S/50.00. Some taxi drivers may not want to drive all the way there, so it might take a few attempts to find one who’s willing. We suggest booking transportation through your hotel or travel agency.
If you’re feeling adventurous, the site is also accessible via bus or combi (city van). This route is less comfortable and takes twice as long.
If you decide to take a bus, you can catch one of the many buses that go to Pachacamac on Avenue Javier Prado. Make sure you catch the eastbound bus. It will take about two hours, so be patient. You’ll pass through La Molina and Cieneguilla before reaching the town of Pachacamac.
If you get lost, ask for “el museo de Pachacamac” and every local will know how to guide you.
What to bring
Whether you plan on going during summer or winter, there are a few essential items you’ll need to bring.
First, you’ll need a substantial bottle of sun block of SPF 40 or higher. The sun is really strong out there and there are few places for shade. We also recommend wearing sunglasses and a hat with a visor to protect your head and eyes from the UV rays.
Second, you’ll need reliable and comfortable footwear. Sneaker or hiking boots are best for the terrain. It might be a good idea to bring an extra pair of socks if you go in the summer months.
Finally, bring a camera. There are many unique photo opportunities that you won’t want to miss.