Historic sites in Peru

If you’re looking to explore Historic Sites in Peru and the surrounding area then you can explore our interactive map above or navigate further by using the links below.

There’s a fantastic selection of  Historic Sites in Peru and you can plan some great things to see on your trips by browsing our selection. Once you’ve explored the  Historic Sites in Peru you can use our itinerary planner tool to plan out your trip and then print off a free pocket guidebook.

Our database of historic sites is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. Remember, if you know of other  Historic Sites in Peru, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by visiting our upload page.
 

Peru: Editor's Picks

Photo by szeke (cc)

1. Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is one of the world’s best preserved Inca sites, located in Peru and protected by UNESCO.

DID YOU KNOW?

Machu Picchu is an extraordinary ancient stone city along the Inca Trail in Peru and forms one of the most famous historical sites in the world.

Believed to have been constructed by the Inca Yupanqui people sometime during the mid-fifteenth century, the ruins of Machu Picchu sit high atop a granite mountain. The high standard of engineering and construction employed by the Incas, such as the fact that each stone on the site fits together seamlessly, accounts for Machu Picchu’s incredible state of preservation.

Machu Picchu was actually only discovered in 1911 by an American historian and much of its history remains a mystery. Past speculation has included theories such as that Machu Picchu was a mostly female city and that it was built as a last attempt by the Incas to preserve their culture. The former of these theories was due to the fact that, of the hundred skeletons found in Machu Picchu’s fifty burial sites, 80% were initially believed to be female, although this has since been disproven.

Machu Picchu is thought to have had a population of at least five hundred thousand people and, with its incredibly ornate stonework and architecture, is widely considered to have been an important ceremonial site. Some of Machu Picchu’s most impressive structures include the semi-circular Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Three Windows, the mausoleum and the upper cemetery.

Machu Picchu’s agricultural section, with its terraces and granaries, is also an important aspect of the site demonstrating the advanced agricultural methods employed by the Inca people. The main Machu Picchu city is surrounded by other sites forming the Inca Trail and some of which take some serious hiking, but are well worth it. It’s also a good idea to stop at the Museo de Sitio Manuel Chávez Ballón at the base of the mountain. This site features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Peru.

Photo by geoced (cc)

2. Inca Trail

The Inca Trail is a famous hiking route which winds through Inca sites in Peru including Machu Picchu.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Inca Trail is a famous route in Peru which allows hikers to follow in the footsteps of the Inca people. The main site along the Inca Trail is Machu Picchu, the magnificent ruins of an Inca city dating back to the fifteenth century and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

However, the Inca Trail includes many other great Inca sites along its typically four day route, including Patallacta, which was a religious site as well as the home of Inca soldiers, Runkuracay, the “inaccessible town” of Sayacmarca with its maze of houses and water channels, Phuyupatamarca and Sun Gate.

Also along the trail is Wiñaywayna, another beautiful Inca site close to Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail also includes a breathtaking tour of the natural wonders of Peru, but it involves quite difficult treks and hikers need to be in good, if not peak, physical condition, particularly for the longer trails.

The Inca Trail is featured as one of our Top 10 Vistor Attractions in Peru.

Photo by Bruno Girin (cc)

3. Chan Chan

Chan Chan in Peru was the capital of the Chimu civilisation and is a UNESCO listed site.

DID YOU KNOW?

Chan Chan is an impressive site in Peru and the world’s largest adobe city as well as the largest pre-Colombian city in the Americas. As the capital of the ancient Chimu civilisation, Chan Chan was developed in around 1300 AD and would have reached its peak in the fifteenth century, after which the Chimu were overtaken by the Incas and the city was abandoned.

Still a vast site today, it is thought that Chan Chan was home to a population of tens of thousands, perhaps up to 100,000 people. Partly due to erosion, but also to mass looting, what remains is a shadow of the grandeur of the former city and yet is still an incredible sight.

Chan Chan is a labyrinth of dwellings, palaces, fortifications, streets, storehouses and temples, all organised into a well-planned city structure spanning approximately 20 square kilometres.

The buildings at Chan Chan were ornately decorated, adorned with elaborate friezes, some of which can still be seen today and which depict animals, mythical creatures and abstract shapes. Sadly, what cannot be seen now is any gold or silver which probably decorated many of these sites, as this has all been stolen.

Divided into four sections, one of the main areas of Chan Chan is Palacio Tschudi (the Tchudi Palace), which has been thoroughly – and some say overly – restored.

Many people who visit Chan Chan would choose to only see parts of the site, while enthusiasts may want to see it all – this requires either a guided tour or taking taxis to each part of the site. There is also a small Chan Chan Museum - Museo de Sitio - housing some finds from the site.

Today, Chan Chan is a World Heritage site listed by UNESCO on its “sites in danger” list. This site features as one of our Top Ten Tourist Attractions in Peru.

Peru: Site Index

Photo by Václav Synáček (cc)

Cahuachi

Cahuachi is an ancient site of the Nazca civilization in Peru.

DID YOU KNOW?

Cahuachi is believed to have been a pilgrimage site of the Nazca people. Still an active archeological site, Cahuachi is dominated by several adobe pyramids made of sand and clay as well as having a graveyard.

Little is known about Cahuachi, but as it overlooked the Nazca Lines, it is thought to have been a ceremonial site. Another site at Cahuachi is known as Estaquería, which archeologists believed was used for mummification purposes. A general Nazca tour which includes Cahuachi and other sites takes approximately 3 hours.

Photo by Veronique Debord (cc)

Casa de la Emancipacion

Casa de la Emancipacion was the site where Peru planned and declared its independence from Spain.

DID YOU KNOW?

Casa de la Emancipacion was the site where Peru planned and declared its independence from Spain.

This occurred on 29 December 1820, after which Casa de la Emancipacion became the home of Peru’s first government.

Today, Casa de la Emancipacion is the building of Banco Continental and is open to the public with art and cultural exhibits.

The Casa de la Emancipacion is featured as one of our top ten Tourist Attractions in Peru.

Cerro Patapo

Cerro Patapo was the site of a city of the Wari civilisation only discovered in 2008.

DID YOU KNOW?

Cerro Patapo is an archaeological site near Chiclayo in Peru which houses the remains of a city of the Wari Empire. This empire, which ruled much of the Andes, had a presence in Peru from approximately 600 AD to 1100 AD.

Only discovered in 2008, Cerro Patapo was a vitally important find, creating a chronological connection between the Wari and the preceding Moche Empire, which existed from 100 AD to 600 AD.

The Wari city at Cerro Patapo stretches for approximately three miles and is believed to have been the site of human sacrifices. Amongst the finds at Cerro Patapo, archaeologists found the remains of a woman as well as ceramic pieces and clothing.

Photo by sancho_panza (cc)

Chauchilla Cemetery

Chauchilla Cemetery is a fascinating ancient burial ground with Peru’s largest display of mummified bodies in their original graves.

DID YOU KNOW?

Chauchilla Cemetery is an ancient Nazca burial ground in the town of Nazca, Peru. Relatively unknown, particularly when compared to the world famous Nazca Lines, Chauchilla Cemetery dates back to 1000 AD and is one of the most open displays of mummified bodies.

Chauchilla Cemetery has been severely looted over the centuries, as a result of which many of the graves are open displaying incredibly well preserved Nazca corpses in the original cloth in which they were laid to rest. All of the corpses face east in accordance with the Nazca culture and they are all in the sitting position. This site features as one of our Top Ten Tourist Attractions in Peru.

Photo by Miradas.com.br (cc)

Choquequirao

Choquequirao is a little known Incan city in the south of Peru which is similar to the far more famous Machu Picchu.

DID YOU KNOW?

Choquequirao is a little known Incan city in the south of Peru which may well have served as the final stronghold of the Incan civilisation.

Similar in design and architechture to the far better known Machu Picchu, Choquequirao is almost devoid of tourist due to its isolated position.

Built in the late 15th century and expanded over the next century Choquequirao is believed to have served as an administrative hub for the region, as well as providing a local military centre.

In the 16th century, as the Incan Empire was gripped by civil war and then rocked by the arrival of the Conquistadors, Choquequirao - in the Vilcabamaba region - was used as a refuge by Inca forces fleeing the siege of Cuzco.

After the eventual defeat of the last of the Incan forces in 1572 the city was lost from record until European explorers came across Choquequirao in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Today, the ruins of Choquequirao still contain impressive sites but its isolated position means it is a difficult spot to access. A two-day hike from the nearest village has ensured that only the most committed of travellers explore these remains.

However, for better or worse, facilities in the area are improving and the Peruvian government are considering ways to improve access to the site. Choquequirao features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions of Peru.

Photo by Veronique Debord (cc)

El Brujo

El Brujo is an early Chimu archaeological site in Peru.

DID YOU KNOW?

El Brujo in Peru was a Moche (early Chimu) settlement inhabited between 100 and 700 AD. Now an archaeological site, the main features of El Brjuo are its three “huacas” or sacred pyramid temples.

The best preserved of El Brujo’s trio of temples, thought to have been sites of ceremonial significance, is Huaca Cao Viejo (also known as Huaca Blanca) . It is adorned with dramatic, colourful friezes showing various scenes ranging from everyday activities such as fishing to depictions of violence and particularly of human sacrifice. These friezes have led archaeologists to believe that El Brjuo was probably the site of the torture and execution of prisoners.

In 2004, archaeologists found the mummified hand of a woman thought to have been a leader of the Moche, a particularly interesting find given that the Moche were a male-dominated society. The advantage of El Brujo is that it is quieter than other, more popular archaeological sites in Peru.

Photo by morrissey (cc)

Kuelap

Kuelap is an imposing 9th century fortress, once the stronghold of the Chachapoyas people.

DID YOU KNOW?

Kuelap is an imposing 9th century fortress, once the stronghold of the Chachapoyas people, a tribe who lived in the region until shortly before the Spanish conquest.

Looming some 3,000 metres above sea level, Kuelap is an impressive site, with limestone walls surrounding a settlement of around 450 stone houses. It was once home to up to 3,000 people, and many of the structures still include their thatched roofs along with intricate carvings.

The fortress itself contains the remains of an ancient tower, guard posts and eight metre high walls containing fortified entranceways.

Kuelap is now open to the public, although its remote location makes it difficult to visit. This site features as one of our Top Ten Tourist Attractions of Peru.

Llactapata

Often confused with the ruins of Patallacta, Llactapata contains the remains of a small Inca complex near Machu Picchu.

DID YOU KNOW?

The site of Llactapata contains the remains of a small Inca complex near Machu Picchu.

Often confused with the larger ruins of Patallacta, which is frequently called Llactapata, this site was first discovered by archaeologist Hiram Bingham in 1912 and explored in detail by an Anglo-American team in 2003.

Though little evidence remains as to its history, it is believed that Llactapata was an observatory and temple complex, used to take astronomical readings. The walled remains of several structures can be explored, along with a 150-ft sunken corridor.

Photo by Luigi Guarino (cc)

Museo de los Descalzos

The Museo de los Descalzos is a Franciscan convent and museum with a large collection of religious paintings which was founded in the late 16th century.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Museo de los Descalzos is a Franciscan convent and museum with a large collection of religious paintings which was founded in the late 16th century.

The convent was the residence of Franciscan monks known as "Los Descalzos" (the barefoot) for over 400 years. It was from here that hundreds of missionaries were based as they set out to catechize remote areas of Peru.

Today the convent is best known for its impressive cloisters and architecture which are representative of the Colonial period in Peru. The complex consists of a church, chapel, extensive orchards, gardens, and seven cloisters. It was declared a National Historic Monument in 1972.

Museum Manuel Chavez Ballón

Museum Manuel Chavez Ballón is the museum of the famous Machu Picchu site.

DID YOU KNOW?

Museum Manuel Chavez Ballón is a museum at the foot of the mountain which houses the world famous Inca city of Machu Picchu.

Museum Manuel Chavez Ballón is dedicated to exploring the Inca civilisation and houses an expansive collection of artefacts found at Machu Picchu including household items, artwork and religious objects.

Some of the most interesting objects at the Museum Manuel Chavez Ballón are the construction materials and tools, which form one of seven of the museum’s sections.

Museum Manuel Chavez Ballón is a good place to stop off before or after a tour of Machu Picchu.

Nazca Lines

The Nazca Lines are ancient earth drawings in Peru and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Nazca Lines are a series of large shapes embedded in the earth known as “geoglyphs” in Peru’s Nazca Desert.

Spread over 450 square kilometres of the Pampa Colorada region in between the towns of Nazca and Palpa, the origin of the Nazca Lines is a subject of much debate, but they are believed to have been created by the Nazca Civilisation between 500 BC and 500 AD.

Amongst these enigmatic shapes is a monkey, two human beings one of which is known as the “astronaut”, a hummingbird, a spider and a tree.

Most people view the Nazca Lines from the air by booking a flight for approximately 50 minutes, but for those who want to keep their feet on the ground, go to the Pan American Highway observation tower for a view of three of the drawings.

The Nazca Lines are featured as one of our top Visitor Attractions in Peru.

Photo by mckaysavage (cc)

Ollantaytambo Ruins

Ollantaytambo boasts the remains of an ancient Inca fortress and temple complex.

DID YOU KNOW?

Ollantaytambo is an ancient Inca fortress and modern village located approximately 60 miles north of the city of Cuzco, which now contains a series of impressive Inca ruins.

The fortress was originally built to bring local tribes under Inca control, however the Inca were soon facing a new threat in the form of the Conquistadors, who attacked the fortress in 1536 but were repulsed. However, the Inca abandoned the site shortly after in favour of the more defensible Vilcabamba.

Today, the ruins of this ancient fortification sit 2,800m above sea-level atop a high hill and still boast the original stepped walls as well as the remains of a royal chamber, Temple of the Sun and a structure known as the “Princess' Baths”.

Today the Ollantaytambo ruins are a popular stop on the Inca trail and a visit to the village and ruins is often included in organised guided treks of the route.

This site features as one of our Top Tourist Attractions of Peru.

Photo by Claire Taylor (cc)

Patallacta

A large Inca site near Machu Picchu, Patallacta contains the hillside remains of dozens of walled houses and other buildings.

DID YOU KNOW?

Patallacta is a large Inca site near Machu Picchu, built atop stepped agricultural terraces surrounding a rising hillside.

The site sits along what is now known as the Inca Trail, which runs to the far more famous Machu Picchu and it is believed the settlement was also used by the Inca as a stopping point for those on their way to the ancient city. Sometimes referred to as Llactapata, there remains significant confusion as to the naming conventions for a number of Inca sites in this region.

Burned by the Inca as they retreated from the Conquistadors, today the remains of Patallacta, include dozens of walled houses and other buildings which can still be explored. Many tours of the Inca trail will stop at Patallacta and that is probably the easiest way to explore the site.

Photo by Claire Taylor (cc)

Phuyupatamarca

One of the most picturesque stops on the Inca Trail, Phuyupatamarca is a well preserved Inca ruin which sits over 11,000 feet above sea level.

DID YOU KNOW?

The ruins of Phuyupatamarca, located along the Inca Trail, rank among the best preserved and most scenic Inca ruins in existence.

Known as the ‘Town above the Clouds’, Phuyupatamarca is over 11,000 feet above sea level and often surrounded by thick clouds which weave their way through the valleys below - producing a picturesque viewpoint which is not to be missed.

The site itself contains some excellent Inca ruins, including agricultural terraces built into the hillside and a settlement above them which includes ritual baths, a temple and an impressive irrigation system. A number of observation platforms offer excellent views.

Most people visit Phuyupatamarca on one of the many organised hiking tours of the Inca trail and several tours camp here overnight.

Photo by Ivan Mlinaric (cc)

Pisac Ruins

The ruins are Pisac are the remains of an impressive Inca settlement which was abandoned in the 1530s.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Pisac ruins, located next to the modern town of the same name, are the remains of an impressive ancient Inca settlement.

Though little is known as to the history of the site before the Spanish conquest, Pisac was probably used as a ceremonial and military centre. The site was abandoned and fell to ruin after the conquest in the 1530s.

Today the ruins of Pisac sit above a looming hilltop above the modern town and contain some of the best examples of Inca ruins in existence. Alongside the vast and impressive agricultural terraces surrounding the hillside, the platform built at the top contains the remains of a fortress and temple complex. Among the structures which can be seen here are the ruins of the Temple of the Sun, ceremonial baths, altars and fortified walls.

Royal Sipan Tombs

The Sipan Tomb Museum holds the treasures of the 4th century tomb of the Moche Lord of Sipan.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Sipan Tomb Museum in Peru displays the treasures found at the Royal Sipan Tombs, originally uncovered in the Lambayeque Valley.

The Royal Sipan Tomb was the mausoleum of the Lord of Sipan, a great warrior and a significant figure amongst the Moche people dating back to the fourth century AD.

A revered warlord, the Lord of Sipan’s tomb is said to have rivalled that of Tutankhamen in terms of the amount and grandeur of objects buried with him. When the Sipan Tomb was found, the Lord of Sipan was covered in and surrounded with an abundance of gold, silver and jewels.

The Royal Sipan Tombs artefacts, which include jewels, ceramics, gold and silver objects and pieces made of carved wood, are all displayed at the Sipan Tombs Museum, which is even structured to look like the actual tomb.

However, in addition to this wealth of artefacts, the Lord of Sipan’s tomb contained further incredible finds. In fact, the Lord of Sipan was found amongst other skeletons, including those of a dog, a llama and even two young women, possibly his concubines, believed to have been sacrificed upon his death.

The Sipan Tomb Museum is very much a labour of love, created by the archaeologists who unearthed and protected these artefacts. This site features as one of our Top Tourist Attractions in Peru.

The Bruning Museum

The Brüning Museum has a varied set of exhibits from Peru's history, focusing primarily on the pre-Incas.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Brüning Museum (Museo Arqueológico Nacional Brüning) in Lambayeque, is an archaeological museum with a varied set of exhibits from Peruvian history, but focusing primarily on the pre-Incas. One of the highlights is known as the Gold Room or Sala de Oro.

The Moche Temples

The Moche Temples are two ancient adobe pyramid temples in Peru.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Moche Temples in Peru are made up of Huaca del Sol y la Luna, translated as the Temples of the Sun and the Moon.

Moche was a pre-Inca civilisation which preceded that of the Chimu and is sometimes thought of as early Chimu. It dates from around 100 to 900 AD and the Moche Temples are thought to have been built in 500 AD.

The Moche Temples are located in northern Peru and, like many Moche sites, are adorned with various colourful friezes of different shapes and ominous figures. They were built of adobe bricks and would have been constructed over the course of many years, each generation adding further levels.

While Huaca del Sol is the smaller of the two Moche Temples, it is better preserved than Huaca de la Luna.

Photo by fortes (cc)

Winaywayna

Winaywayna is an Inca site in Peru near Machu Picchu.

DID YOU KNOW?

Winaywayna or Winay Wayna, literally translated as “forever young”, is an Inca site along the Inca Trail close to the famous ruins of Machu Picchu. Winaywayna is yet another great example of Inca civillisation and is made up of two levels containing a network of houses, fountains and agricultural terraces.

Whilst it forms part of the Inca Trail, tourists can also see Winaywayna as part of a standalone trip to Machu Picchu, the hike usually takes around three and half hours.

Photo by clandestino_20 (cc)

Yalape

Built around 1100 AD, Yalape contain the ruins of an ancient Chachapoyan city. Though largely overgrown, it contains the remains of a huge urban settlement.

DID YOU KNOW?

Yalape in Peru was an ancient Chachapoyan city and the second largest such settlement after Kuelap.

Probably built around 1100 AD, Yalape was a large urban centre and contained a host of residential areas spread out over at least four hectares. The site was later abandoned along with other major Chachapoyan cities.

Today the site is largely overgrown but certain elements remain, including low walls and the stone circular foundations of houses and communal buildings which were built in the typical style of the Chachapoyas. Yalape also contains the ruins of the original irrigation system and a number of stone friezes similar to those found at Kuelap.

This article about Yalape is a stub and is in line for expansion by our editorial team. You can help expand this information by adding comments below.