Day tour to Tiahuanaco ruins
August 20th, 2003
Day tour from La Paz to Tiahuanaco, visiting the ruins of a pre-inca site and the museum. Although the site has been destroyed during the colonial times, as the stones were recycled to built the modern city and its church, there are still some impressive structures, including temples, statues and the gate of sun.
The Tihauanaco ruins
are a wonderful archaeological site containing some remains from a pre-Inca culture dated back to 2000 years ago. Close to La Paz, at an altitude of 3810 metres above sea level, the ruins are fascinating and full of mystery, as still little is known about this population, especially their technology and their distribution.Unfortunately, the 90% of the site has been robbed and destroyed
by the invaders, because ordered by the catholic religion. Most of the ruins was used to build a church in the modern Tiahuanaco, several buildings in La Paz and... terrible !... some has been crushed by dynamite to produce gravel for building the railroad.
The modern Tihauanaco
with the church in the middle.
Photos of Tihauanaco
. Unfortunately, of most structures, we don't have more than the foundations. The same is true for the big pyramid Akapana
, a huge contruction 16 meters tall and perfectly aligned with cardinal points.
. In the front, the subterranean temple
with monoliths in the middle. In the background, the big Kalasasaya temple.
The walls of the subterreanean temple
are decorated with stone heads looking to the center of the temple itself, where the monoliths are placed.
Left picture: monoliths
in the center of the subterranean temple. Top picture: stone heads
looking to the monoliths.
Looking the Kalasasaya's main entrance
from the subterranean temple. Either the door and the stairs are cutted from a single huge stone
. The Idol
behind the door, creates an harmonious geometry, elegant and relaxing to see.
The Gate of the Sun
is a large monolith (a single block of stone), weighting about 10 tons. The symbol on the top represents the Viroacocha God, with sun rays spreading in all directions from his head, instead the other symbols all around are probably a calendar or something used to measure the time. The first day of each spring, the sun rises exactly in the middle of the door.
The walls are build with advanced tecniques
, in order to improve their strenght and to eliminate the movements. In the upper-left picture, a sample of foundation, with water ducts. Top-right: a finished wall, made of stones nicely cutted and joint. Bottom pictures: small stones or copper plates was embedded in holes digged inside the blocks, to firmly tie the blocks between them.
A monolithic statue
made of sandstone, fine decorated, but unfortunately a bit deteriorated by the time.
Another monolithic statue, the Idol,
is instead much more well preserved. Its body is full of decorations and symbols, but for most of them, nobody has theories about their means. The statue is placed in the front of the temple's main entrance, as seen before
Drawings and decorations
on the Idol, covering its entire surface.
Nobody knows what kind of instruments
was used to make these perfect cuts inside the stones, I've also used a telephone card to check for the angles, and they are perfectly at 90 degrees. Amazing. The scratches on the borders was probably made by the thieves while exctracting something of precious contained in that space.
The day ends with a short bus trip back to La Paz. With an altitude of about 4000 metres, this hill is the highest point between Tihaunanaco and La Paz
, thence it offers a nice WidevieW over the altiplano and to the Cordillera Real, characterized by snowy peaks often exceeding 6000 meters of elevation.
Before descending into La Paz
, the bus stops on a nice viewpoint over the city.