Monday 4 December 2023

The remarkable city of Tiwanaku

Looking back into the last few posts I realise that it's been a while since I've written about an archaeological site. Well my friends...this post is about one of the most important ruins in Bolivia and these ruins are called … Tiwanaku!

The Tiwanaku people are a complete mystery and have left us no history! One of the Spanish conquistadors wrote in his diary that when he asked if the Incas built the Tiwanaku city, the natives laughed at him and told him that their forefathers said it appeared over night! Nowadays, there are many hypotheses about who the Tiwanaku people were and there are still many investigations by the archaeologists about how the Tiwanaku city was built and how it functioned.

So I'll tell you a bit about the archaeological site which, when we visited was wonderfully quiet because it was a rainy day. Of course, that didn't stop us. 

There are two main ruins near the modern city of Tiwanaku: Tiwanaku and Puma Punku (which translates in Aimara language as puma door). The ancient city of Tiwanaku was mainly a place of worship for the Tiwanaku people with four big temples, one of which was later turned into a private temple for the village leaders. 

The three main temples in the ancient city of Tiwanaku (the other temple being Puma Punku) are the main temple, the sunken temple and the raised temple. The raised temple was like a huge step pyramid with a moat dug around it and a set of underground water channels. It has seven steps and at the top, sunk into the pyramid, is an Andean cross into which, water would have flown! The main temple, also surrounded by a moat, had 14 houses, seven on one of the sides with no gate and seven on the other side. In the middle of the temple is a large monolith with the sun gate on one side of it and the entrance to the temple on the other side. The monolith is aligned so that when the sun sets or rises, the sun is shining through one of the gates to the monolith!

At Puma Punku, we were shown the remarkable stones with the Andean cross carved into them and others with holes for the bronze casts that would have held them in place when Tiwanaku was a city not a ruin!

Despite the rain (and not having any raincoats because all our waterproofs got stollen in Salta!! That's a story for a different time though), I really enjoyed visiting the site and learning more about the Tiwanaku city and the people. I think the different theories about how the city was built makes it more mysterious and interesting.

Off to Lake Titicaca or Peru next - depending on the weather. I'll be in touch soon...

1 comment:

  1. amazing place! any idea of dates for the site? Sal xx