The ruins at Ingapirca is considered the most important archaeological site in Ecuador. It’s often called the “Machu Picchu of Ecuador” The site was discovered and excavated in the 1960’s. Prior to that it was buried in dirt and farmers grew potatoes and corn literally right on top of it and had no idea what was underneath the soil.
The site was originally built by the Canari civilization and later the Inca joined them here. The Canari people were moon worshipers and all of their structures were round, oval, or elliptical. Their structures were made from river stones and held together with mortar.
The Inca were sun worshipers and all of their structures were made from volcanic rock. Their structures were symmetrical. They didn’t use any mortar and the rocks were precision fit together.
The Canari people believed that females were superior to males and all of their rulers, royalty and administrators were women. In the late 1960’s a Canari tomb was found underneath the many small stones you see in the photos below.
Actually there were seven layers of stone between seven layers of earth and the tomb was beneath that. In the tomb was a Canari woman, probably royalty. She was found in the fetal position, adorned with jewelry and surround by her seven followers who were apparently killed and entombed along with her.
The Canari believed in three worlds. The world of their ancestors, the world as we know it and the next world as they believed in reincarnation. She was placed in the fetal position so she could “grow” into the next world taking her followers with her in much the same way as a seed grows from Pachamama (mother earth).
At some point an Inca leader married the Canari princess Paccha, giving birth to the future Inca Huayna Capac in the city of Pumapungo (nowadays Cuenca), thus merging the Canari and Inca cultures.
At Ingapirca the two most important structures are the Moon Temple of the Canari and the Sun Temple of the Inca.
This is where the Canari Moon Temple was although only the foundation remains today.
This is the Inca Sun Temple.
From Cuenca to Ingapirca
I met up with a visitor to Cuenca from the states and we took the bus. You can catch the bus at the main bus terminal by the airport in Cuenca. It leaves at 9 A.M., Monday through Saturday. You can purchase your ticket starting at 30 minutes before 9 at 8:30 A.M. the day of your trip, this is the only time you can purchase your bus ticket. The cost is $3.50 each way.
The bus gets there at 11 A.M., waits for you for two hours, and then heads back to Cuenca at about 1:15 P.M. and arrives back in Cuenca around 3 P.M. There’s another bus that leaves for Cuenca at 3 P.M. but according to our driver that’s not a sure thing. There’s food and beverages available there but my travel buddy and I had just enough time to have a Pilsner Grande after the tour before the bus left for Cuenca.
The cost to get in the ruins is $2 for residents and $6 for non resident adults under 65. This included an English speaking tour guide who was fantastic. They’ll assign you to either the Spanish speaking or English speaking tour guide, whichever one is appropriate. There were four of us with the English speaking guide.
This is an excellent and inexpensive day trip from Cuenca. I plan to go back though and spend a couple of days here and just enjoy the incredible scenery.