Located in Cañar, Ingapirca Inca architectural complex is the most important pre-columbian site in Ecuador! Ingapirca means “wall of the Inca” and on-site, you can find the remains of what once was an area of ceremonies and a strategic resting point on the road to Cuzco. A 4-hectare architectonic complex demonstrates a trace of the culture and dominion of the Incas before the Spaniards arrived in Ecuador. Nowadays, you can walk a section of the trail and appreciate the preserved remains that rest at an elevation of 3,200m above sea level.
Did you know? At one point, the trail reaches an altitude of 4,200m above sea level, making it one of the highest places of the Royal Road in the entire Inca Empire! The term “Royal Road” was coined by the Spaniards after their conquest.
And before the Incas?
Besides being a meaningful site for the Incas, the area was also a religious, scientific, military, administrative and political center for the Cañari tribal population before their arrival (500 c).
The nucleus of this site was built upon by the Incas, resulting in the Temple of the Sun. Volcanic stone and green andesita stone compose the facade of the architectonic complex, with an axis directed facing east to west (aligned with the sun), where light illuminates every corner.
Inti Raymi at Ingapirca
During the month of June, specifically June 20 -21 days that mark the summer solstice, the Inti Raymi celebration of the sun begins at Ingapirca. When harvests are blooming, Inti Raymi reminds us to be thankful for the sun because it has allowed for our harvests to grow and for food to be on our table. This sacred festivity honors Taita Inti (Father Sun) with a congregation of hundreds of people who engage on diverse cultural activities such as folkloric dances, Andean music performances, and gastronomic and artisanal fairs. Gratitude is expressed through these activities and also towards Pachamama for being kind and allowing a good production/harvest of traditional products.
The celebration of Inti Raymi is manifested in the Temple of the Sun because it used to be, and still remains, a place of ceremony and worship. This year, on Friday, June 21st there will be an agenda of events to celebrate Inti Raymi at Ingapirca. The activities are planned to fit the following schedule:
9:00 amthere will be a presentation of Ancestral Cultural Manifestations of the Qhapac Ñan.
13:00 pm there will be the offering of the Pampa Mesa to the communities of the province of Cañar. *Pampa mesa consists of sharing typical dishes from the area, made from corn, potatoes, mashua, melloco, beans and pumpkin, combined with lamb, cuy and meat.
14:30 pm elections for the Ñusta Inti Raymi Ingapirca (princess of Inti Raymi) will be held, culminating in the Andean Music Festival at 20:00 pm featuring bands from the province and other regions across the country.
If you want to experience beautiful sights, preserved remains of an incredible moment in the history of Ecuador, and a day of celebration and commemoration of the summer solstice, we recommend booking your tour today for June 21st.
However, you can visit Ingapirca throughout the year and still find much to do! Neighboring towns offer horseback riding tours, trails, experiential communal tourism (such as milking cows, learning the process of harvesting, gastronomic experiences and a guided visit of a 350-year-old church).
In order to get to Ingapirca, we recommend that you make your way to Cuenca city (it is the closest main city and many tours depart from here). If you want a complete tour day you can also book the full adventure, beginning with the Devil’s Nose train through the Andean paramos (1h and a half trip, departing from Alausi, 160 km north of Cuenca) and then making your way to the pre-columbian Ingapirca site. Contemplate the Temple of the Sun, still standing, resting atop a hill at 3,200m above sea level.
How to get there: Take route E35 from the canton of Tambo or Cañar, depending on whether you come from the north or the south respectively. From this point, follow the clearly labeled signs or ask around (36 natives have been awarded guide certifications- they are professional and prepared to guide you).
Regular schedule: 09:00 to 17:30. Duration: Tour of Ingapirca ruins lasts about 60 min.