This ceremonial center, 107 kilometers north of Puno, was built by the Pucará, one of Titicaca’s earliest cultures (300 B.C.–A.D. 300). Though a bit difficult to visualize, the ruins (daylight hours, free admission) offer a glimpse into the shadowy origins of Lake Titicaca’s civilized life and show clear links to the Chavín culture, which was flourishing at the same time in Peru’s central mountains.
The first temple is U shaped and was originally decorated with stelae, or carved stone slabs, showing a deity similar to the degollador, or decapitator deity, of the Chavín. The second, known as the Kalasaya Temple, is rectangular and has eight large niches along the main remaining wall. The stelae recovered from the site are interesting and are housed in a small INC museum near the plaza.
Across the street is an exquisite colonial church, Iglesia Piñon de Pucará, which the museum caretaker can open upon request.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition