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Huaca Pucllana: ruins in the city

Centuries-old pyramids and temples in the heart of the city: there is no need to travel to the Andes mountains to learn about Peru’s old civilisations. Lima itself is home to a large number of ruins, or 'huacas', remnants of civilisations that preceded the Incas. These ruins are spread over the city –Huaca Pucllana lies in the very heart of the modern Miraflores district.

Miraflores is home to many businesses, hotels, restaurants and bars. Hardly the place where one would expect ancient ruins, yet this is where the historic treasure of Huaca Pucllana can be found. Built approximately 1500 years ago as a ceremonial centre, these ruins have only been recently excavated. Archaeologists continue to uncover ancient artefacts - just recently a mummy was found. The large pyramid and ancient brick buildings stand in sharp contrast with the modern surroundings. At night the ruins are beautifully illuminated, a lovely destination for dinner in the restaurant on site.

Ruins in the heart of Lima
Ruins in the heart of Lima

Lima

Sacred games

The first stones of Huaca Pucllana were laid in the 5th century A.C., approximately a thousand years before the Incas began the construction of Machu Picchu. Huaca Pucllana means ‘sacred place for games’, so this area was probably where game rituals were held. The original population lived here for 300 years until the Wari people conquered the city. This sacred complex once encompassed 16 hectares with approximately 44 temples. Only a small part has been excavated and 7 pyramids and several lower buildings can be seen.

The most famous ancient cities, such as Machu Picchu and Caral, were built with large blocks of granite, but not Huaca Pucllana. The buildings here have been built with clay and handmade bricks. Look closely and you will notice that the bricks are placed somewhat askew. This was not just sloppy construction; the ancient builders deliberately placed the bricks this way to make them earthquake resistant. The fact that these temples have survived for 1500 years attests to their level of expertise.

Dining by the ruins

At night the ruins are beautifully illuminated – a lovely setting for a dinner in the restaurant on site. Take a seat on the patio or in the dining room, wonderfully decorated with indigenous artwork. From almost every table you get a great view of the impressive ruins as you feast on Peruvian haute cuisine. Try the stew with prawns and quinoa, prepared with fresh cheese and chilli pepper.

Dinner with a view of the ruins

Photo credits

  • Dinner with a view of the ruins: Margalit Francus, Flickr