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Písac (Pisaq)

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Take a Trip All the Way Up to Písac!


 The Inca Ruins of Písac

The ruins of Písac, as seen from a higher level



Písac is northeast of Cuzco, 35 km (22 mi) away on the road. Buses, small private vehicles will get you there. Some might rent a motorcycle or a car or might try to bicycle their way there. We don't recommend you the bicycle trips, as they are exhausting.


Písac's ruins overlook the Urubamba Valley (called Sacred Valley in this area) from high ground. The views are spectacular!

The Vilcanota River flows below and the mountain sides around contain well-preserved Inca agricultural terraces.


The ruins of Písac mustn't be missed when one visits the Cuzco and Sacred Valley region. The views are splendid and the local market will give you a taste of traditional Quechuan - Inca culture!


The location chosen by the Incas was strategically very good. One can observe the Urubamba Valley below with ease.

Písac is believed to have been constructed for multiple reasons. It had a quadruple significance: important military outpost, politically and from the administrative point-of-view it was an important center in the area, but we can also observe its religious importance.


The town of Písac and the ruins of Písac are 2 different places, but quite close to each other. The town is in the Urubamba Valley, while the reddish ruins are on higher ground




Why Visit Písac?


Because many travelers go to the western areas: Ollantaytambo ruins, Machu Picchu and others, but fewer will venture to the northeast, to where the eastern part of the Sacred Valley ends. Here is Písac.


Picturesque sights can be seen. Being there is a wonderful opportunity for photographers.


The walls of the ruins were built out of reddish stones, rare in case of Inca cities.




Attractions of Písac


The town of Písac is 1,5 km (1 mi) from the ruins of Písac, which are split on various levels on a mountain behind the town.

Nobody lives in the archaeological complex, but down, in the town.


Písac, the Sun Temple

Písac, the Sun Temple



The Archaeological Site of Písac


You will most probably arrive to the town, which is on rather flat terrain in the valley. From there you get to the archaeological site through trails.


The ruins of Písac are split into 4 parts, which are located on different altitude levels and separated by agricultural terraces. The climbs are fun, the sight around is picturesque!


The 4 parts of Písac are: Pisaqa, Intihuatana, Callacasa (Q'allaqasa), and Kinchiracay.


Písac has houses, courtyards, steps, aqueducts, interestingly it also has tunnels!


Just like the citadel of Machu Picchu, Písac also has its own Intihuatana (Intiwatana) stone inside the "Temple of the Sun".

This sundial-like carved rock somewhat resembles the ancient European sun clocks/sun dials. 

Unfortunately the Intihuatana of Písac was barbarically maimed by the Christian invaders. It still is there, but large parts are missing.

All Intihuatanas were destroyed, except the one in Machu Picchu, city which was never found by the Spaniards.

The "Temple of the Sun", which has also suffered, but mainly due to visitors who have broken parts of it and have brought them home as "souvenir".

The authorities have closed the location down, have prohibited entry into the building.


Some buildings were used for keeping livestock and depositing food. These buildings are located at the higher levels.


It is amazing to see the stones that perfectly fit. Here in Písac, as well as in Machu Picchu and Ollantaytambo and elsewhere.

But, particular to Písac is the fact that not all stones are polished. Some of them look and feel rather rough, but you might not be allowed to touch them.

Some believe that the dwellings with the smoothest walls were used by the higher class Incas.


At this Inca site you will be able to observe rare Inca techniques, for instance the combination of cut stone bricks and those that were made out of hardened mud.


The agricultural terraces around Písac are still used today. The Inca-built irrigation system also functions perfectly!


A cemetery has approximately 3.000 burial places. It contains single-person graves, but others were used to bury whole families (like crypts).

Unfortunately treasure hunters robbed the graves, the cemetery looted, most probably during the middle ages already.


At heights above 4.200 m (13,780 ft) there are engraved and painted images of animals (llamas, alpacas) inside several stone buildings. The llamas were used to carry loads of up to 23 kg (50 pounds) during Inca times, but the alpacas were kept for their fine fur and meat.


Q'allaqasa or Callacasa is the part called "The Citadel", located highest from all 4 sections and the view is most complete from up there.


Specialists affirm that Písac had a strategic importance for the Inca who might have constructed it at this location because the place offers a good view over the valley below.

Perhaps this town/fortification was built for the purpose of guarding the southeastern entrance of the Sacred Valley, through which it was possible to reach the Inca Empire's capital, Cuzco.


The word Písac comes from the word "Písaca", meaning partridge. A bird specie that lives in this area of Peru and can be seen flying at dusk, especially.

Also interesting is the fact that the narrow agricultural terraces are built in a way to resemble the wings of this bird, some specialists have concluded. But, Písac might simply be the name of the location and the shape of the ruins might only be due to the limited construction space on the edge of a mountain.


The Periodically Held Market at the Village of Písac


The best time for visiting Písac is either on Tuesday, Thursday or Sunday. That's when locals hold their weekly market.

This market is a good place for buying souvenirs, but keep in mind that many of the items sold are not true traditional ones, but rather "reproductions" that are somewhat "beautified", changed in order to adapt to the taste of the western tourist.

You will see kitschy items, exaggeratedly ornamented and very colourful items. Many of these are truly beautiful original Quechuan or Incan... though, you might be buying something "mass-produced for the naive westerner".




Getting to Písac


The best way is to get there by bus. They depart periodically from Cuzco. The distance of 35 km (22 mi) is doable in 20-30 minutes by car.

There is no way to travel by train to Písac.


It is possible to get to Písac on road from the direction of Calca as well.



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