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Home / Peru / Llactapata


In the Quechua language, Llaqta means place (village, town, city, country, nation), pata means elevated place/ above, bank (of a river), shore, pronounced 'yakta-pahta', is an archaeological site about 5km (3.1 mi) west of Machu Picchu.

The complex is located in the Cusco Region Santa Teresa District, high on a ridge between the Ahobamba and Santa Teresa drainages. It appears to be the site originally reported by Hiram Bingham with the same name. Although the site was little explored by Bingham, it was more extensively explored and mapped by the Thomson and Ziegler expedition of 2003.

Bingham first discovered Llaqtapata in 1912. "We found evidence that some Inca chieftain had built his home here and had included in the plan about ten or twelve buildings." Bingham locates the site "on top of a ridge between the valleys of the Aobamba and the Salkantay, about 5,000 feet above the estate of Huaquina." "Here we discovered a number of ruins and two or three modern huts. The Indians said that the place was called Llacta Pata." Bingham did not investigate the ruins thoroughly, however, and they were not studied again for another 70 years. A mid-2003 study of the site conducted by Thomson and Ziegler concluded that the location of Llaqtapata along the Inca trail suggested that it was an important rest stop and roadside shrine on the journey to Machu Picchu. This and subsequent investigations have revealed an extensive complex of structures and features related to and connected with Machu Picchu by a continuation of the Inca Trail leading onward into the Vilcabamba. Llaqtapata may have been a member of the network of interrelated administrative and ceremonial sites which supported the regional center at Machu Picchu. It probably played an important astronomical function during the 'Solstices' and 'Equinoxes'.

All of the buildings included triangular walls but only some remain, as destruction from roots and tree growth has caused significant damage. Two structures in particular contain badly crumbled internal dividing walls. Some doorways are partly filled in and a clumsily made field stone wall extends out from building 2. These may have been added later by local herders using the site as an enclosure.

A double door entranceway between the first and second buildings indicates high status. These are found in the most important structures at regional Inca sites such as the Coricancha in Cusco, Vitcos, Ollantaytambo and Choquequirao (Gasparini Margolies 1980).

A unique feature is a 145 feet long corridor with six feet high walls that aligns with Machu Picchu. The alignment of 65 degrees also points to the sunrise over Machu Picchu during the June Solstice. Many mysterys remain as this large site has remained mostly unstudied in recent years, due to it's relative inaccessablity, except by hikers on the Inca Trail.

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