What is Huaca Pucllana?
Before we can understand Huaca Pucllana we need to understand the meaning of some of the words that are used in the name. The title “Huaca” appears in the name of many ancient monuments in Peru. The meaning of the word is in reference to anything that was considered sacred by the Inca civilization.
Pucllana comes from the word “Puclla,” which means game. Putting the two together means that Huaca Pucllana is a sacred place where games were played. Typically this means that it was likely some type of ceremonial or ritual game.
Huaca Pucllana is an adobe and clay pyramid located in the Miraflores district of central Lima, Peru. The pyramid has seven staggering levels.
Huaca Pucllana History
This massive pyramid originally functioned as an important ceremonial and administrative center for the Lima culture in Peru. Surrounding the structure there is a plaza with a large wall running north and south that divides it into separate sections. The western side of the Huaca Pucllana complex is an area that ceremonies were performed in which they would make sacrifices and offerings to Pachamama. This is the side that contains the 22-meter-high pyramid.
Huaca Pucllana was built around the year 400 to 500 AD by the Lima culture, which ruled the Peruvian central coast for around 200 AD and 700 AD and developed technology such as irrigation which allowed them to thrive in the harsh desert climate.
Eventually, the Lima culture was invaded by the Wari culture sometime around 700 CE. With their arrival, the complex was mostly abandoned with the exception of a burial site for the noble. The first intact tomb from the time period was found in 2008 and had the remains of three people: two adults wearing masks, and a child who was sacrificed.
The Wari civilization then collapsed in 1000 AD, followed by the settlement of the Ychmas, an Aymara-speaking people centered around the city of Pachacamac. Huaca Pucllana then became used as primarily as a site for worship and sacrifice.
Finally, Ychmas were absorbed into the Inca Empire. By the time Inca arrived in Lima, the site was already considered a “ñaupallaqta” (sacred ancient town).
Huaca Pucllana Archaeological Site
On the eastern side of the complex is an administrative section with space that was likely used for public meetings, storage, and other production-focused focused activities. On this side, there were also small clay huts located inside the complex. This side also has the “Señor de Los Unkus” (The Lord of the Unkus) remains which are intact inside one of the tombs.
As this was the administrative side, this is the side that drove the planning for expansion of the empire. This side was also used for the storage of agricultural products. Additionally, high ranking members of the community used the space to conduct meetings into the planning of the expansion of the empire.
The structure also allowed clergymen a good visual of the surrounding natural resources. Having control and quick access to both fresh and saltwater was vital to helping the community thrive
The western side of the compound is the spiritually significant part of Huaca Pucllana. This side of the ruins was built as a structure to honor the god, Pachamama. In Quechua, Pachamama is the term that is used to describe Mother Earth.
The 72 foot or 22-meter Peruvian temple was likely reserved for religious rites and ceremonies held by the community’s high priests. The size of the pyramid was made in order to reach the divine gods. Additionally, this part of the pyramid was used for large feasts and rituals that would involve banquets.
Finally, there is speculation as to the purpose of the pre-Incan Huaca during times of uncertainty. In years of drought, offerings were a common way to address issues of lower food supply throughout the population. It is very likely that human sacrifice was used to appease the Gods in order that they would return times of plentitude to the region.
How to get to Huaca Pucllana
In Lima, Peru, there are many ways for travelers to get around and get to the pyramid. The Huaca Pucllana archaeological site is located at Calle Gral. Borgoño, block 8 in the Miraflores district. The site is very accessible for travelers. Most of Lima’s hotels and hostels are located very close to the ruins.
Walking in Lima is very easy and depending on where your hotel is located, this may be one of the best ways to get there. Lima is a very walkable city. Lima is a very walkable city and the pre-Inca Lima culture archaeological complex is within walking distance of many hotels. If you are near Kennedy Park, Huaca Pucllana is an easy 20-minute walk.
If you prefer to get there quicker, haggling with a taxi is another option. Uber is also a convenient way to hail a ride if you have internet service in Lima. Finally, you can use the Lima Peru bus system. It is quite cheap, although may not be the best option if you don’t speak Spanish or know your way around the city.
If you have the internet on your phone we think Uber will be the easiest way to get to the ruins.
Huaca Pucllana Hours and Entrance Fees
The Huaca Pucllana ruins are open to visitors Wednesday thru Monday from 9 AM to 5 PM. The ruins are closed every week on Tuesdays. There is also a nighttime entrance from Wednesday through Monday from 7 PM to 10 PM. The entrance fee is S/15.00 which comes to a little under $5 USD. Any children ages under 12 or senior citizens can obtain entrance for half price every day.
Huaca Pucllana entrance is pretty cheap. It includes a guided tour. You are able to explore the tiered pyramid and large walled rooms built with adobe brick that is centuries old. However, the bricks used for the construction have slowly started to decay. Restoration is currently ongoing in order to maintain the ruins structure and help replace the damage that has occurred throughout the years.
One of the things that your tour guide will draw attention to is the tombs that have been excavated on site. The excavation of Huaca Pucllana continues today by archeologists. There continue to be many human remains as well as offerings constantly found at the site and inside the tombs.
If you stand on the uppermost section of the pyramid you will get an excellent view of the ruins.
What Restaurants are near Huaca Pucllana?
Within the ruins of Huaca Pucllana, there is a restaurant called Huaca Pucllana Restaurante. The restaurant sits near the illuminated pyramid creating a serene view at night.
Promotor Arturo Rubio with chefs, Marilú Madueño and Andrea Massaro have created a decadent world-class dining experience. Their culinary specialty consist of utilizing local ingredients to make exquisite traditional Peruvian cuisine.
At the restaurant, you will find dishes like Lomo Saltado which is marinated sirloin with onions, tomatoes, rice, and french fries, or Antichuco which is a marinated beef heart with fried corn and chips.
The Huaca Pucllana Restaurante is open daily from 12 pm and 4 pm, and then from 7 pm until midnight. It is definitely a must-visit you if are in the Miraflores Peru area.
I may not have enough time to wait for the guided tour. Is a self-guided tour of the site allowed?
Hey Kwang. Sometimes people are able to get in with a guide. Sometimes the gate is a stickler about having one. It really depends who is working the gate. It’s definitely feasible to get in without one.