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Vilcabamba (Wilkapampa)

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The Last Stronghold of the Incas


The ruins are those of one of the last places where the Incas had formed strong resistance against the Spaniards.

Vilcabamba is called "The Last Stronghold of the Incas", others might mistakenly call it "The Last City" or "The Last Capital" of the Incas...

Specialists call it "The Last Stronghold of the Incas".


The city of Vilcabamba is crossed by the river with the same name.

There are 2 parts of this area: Vilcabamba Viejo (Espíritu Pampa) and Vilcabamba Nuevo (San Francisco). The city of Vilcabamba was located in the Espíritu Pampa.


Today we know of 12 different sites with a total of about 100 buildings in the Vilcabamba region. These are all late Inca structures, the way that they were built clearly reflects a somewhat less solid architecture.


Unfortunately, of the city of Vilcabamba only several rocks have remained, the ruins are hardly recognizable by the untrained eye. A few walls have remained, though.

It is overall not interesting at all for tourists, only for archaeologists!


This part of Peru is rarely visited by travelers. If someone wanders into this part of the county, then he is most likely to be an experienced hiker travelling in an organized group or an archaeologist.


The Discovery of Vilcabamba


The ruins of Vilcabamba were discovered by Hiram Bingham, just before the discovery of Machu Picchu, the same year, in 1911.

Bingham was looking for Vitcos, another ruin in the Vilcabamba area, but he had stumbled across these ruins.


After having discovered it, Bingham has simply abandoned Vilcabamba in order to continue the research at the much more impressive Machu Picchu.


The site of Vilcabamba was later explored in 1960 by Antonio Santander and Gene Savoy, also by Vincent Lee and John Hemming, afterwards several times by archaeologist Gary Ziegler, as well as other specialists.


Hiram Bingham believed that Machu Picchu was the "Lost City of the Incas" and that Vilcabamba has no major significance. Therefore he gave more importance to the more beautiful Machu Picchu.


Bingham has failed to recognize the importance of Vilcabamba and did not notice much of the ruins. Only parts of it.


Vilcabamba Confusions, Misinterpretations


There are several Vilcabamba-named zones in South America. Often, they are confused. We are taking a look at these now.


One of them is the Vilcabamba Valley in southeastern Ecuador. There, a city with the same name had been founded by Luis Fernando de la Vega on September 1st, 1756. The location of the city is at about 42 km (26 mi) from the city of Loja.


The other 2 Vilcabambas are both in Peru. One of them is a valley, the Vilcabamba Valley, which is just behind the ruins of Machu Picchu. The other one is the Inca ruins of Vilcabamba, which is known as "The Last Stronghold of the Incas".


In Quechuan the word Vilcabamba or Huilcabamba can be translated to "Sacred Valley", even though, this is not the commonly known as "The Sacred Valley of the Incas", which is further southeast in the direction of Cuzco city.

"Huilco" means "sacred", "bamba" means "valley".

Some say that "huilco" can also refer to God, so the name Vilcabamba can be translated to "Valley of God".


About the Past of Vilcabamba


Had been founded by Inca ruler Manco Inca in 1539. It was a refuge place of the Incas, but it was discovered by the Spanish conquistadores and demolished, locals brutally murdered.

The resistance of the Incas had lasted for 40 years, until the Spaniards finally overcame them in 1572.




The Treasures of the Vilcabamba


The city of Vilcabamba was mentioned in many tales, stories, myths about hidden Inca treasures.


The Spanish army has crushed Vilcabamba in 1572 and the Incas were hiding in the Vilcabamba Valley for roughly 4 decades. The latter had all the reasons to hide their valuables form the invading Europeans.

Many strongly believe, even today, that there are hidden treasures somewhere in this area. Although, there is no strong evidence, nor any clues pointing out to this area. There are myths, such as the myth of Paititi, which fuels the desire and enthusiasm of treasure hunters.


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