Originally one of the most important centres of pilgrimage on the Peruvian coast, PACHACAMAC functioned from around the time of Christ as a very sacred location that, even in pre-Inca days, housed a miraculous wooden idol. It’s by far the most interesting of the Rimac Valley’s ancient sites, and well worth making time for even if you’re planning to head out to Cusco and Machu Picchu; allow a good two hours to wander around the full extent of the ruins. The site can easily be combined with a day at one or other of the beaches, and it’s little problem to get out there from the capital.

The ruins

Entering the ruins, after passing the restored sectors, which include the Templo de la Luna (Temple of the Moon) and the Convento de las Virgenes del Sol (Convent of the Sun Virgins, or Mamaconas), you can see the later Inca construction of the Sun Temple directly ahead. Constructed on the top level of a series of pyramidical platforms, it was built tightly onto the hill with plastered adobe bricks, its walls originally painted in gloriously bright colours. From the very top of the Sun Temple there’s a magnificent view west beyond the Panamerican Highway to the beach (Playa San Pedro) and across the sea to a sizeable yet uninhabited island, which resembles like a huge whale approaching the shore. Below the Sun Temple is the main plaza, once covered with a thatched roof supported on stilts, and thought to have been the area where pilgrims assembled in adoration. The rest of the ruins, visible though barely distinguishable, were once dwellings, storehouses and palaces.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Peru features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

20 pictures of Peru that will put the country on your bucket list

20 pictures of Peru that will put the country on your bucket list

Peru is has long been a favourite destination on the South America backpacker trail, but there's more to tempt you here than the oft-photographed llamas and …

05 Aug 2016 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
15 things everyone learns backpacking South America

15 things everyone learns backpacking South America

South America has become a favoured destination for the intrepid backpacker, and while it’s impressive in the astounding diversity of its nations, there are a…

02 Mar 2016 • Steph Dyson insert_drive_file Article
Behind the scenes of the best restaurants in Lima

Behind the scenes of the best restaurants in Lima

Co-author of The Rough Guide to Peru and Lima resident Greg de Villiers gives us an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the city's best restaurants.  Beto i…

28 Jul 2015 • Gregory de Villiers insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month