La Mano en la Arena
Built around AD 1300 and covering 20 sq km, Chan Chan is the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas, and the largest adobe city in the world. At the height of the Chimú empire, it housed an estimated 60,000 inhabitants and contained a vast wealth of gold, silver and ceramics.
A Unesco World Heritage site since 1985, Chavín de Huántar is the quintessential site of the Mid-Late Formative Period (c 1200–500 BC), one of many relatively independent, competitive ceremonial centers spread throughout the central Andes.
The mystical site of El Fuerte exudes such pulling power that visitors from all over the world make their way to Samaipata just to climb the hill and see the remains of this pre-Inca site Designated in 1998 as a Unesco World Heritage Site, El Fuerte occupies a hilltop about 10km from the village and offers breathtaking views across the rugged transition zone between the Andes.
Even if you’ve already overdosed on colonial edifices, this convent shouldn’t be missed. Occupying a whole block and guarded by imposing high walls, it is one of the most fascinating religious buildings in Peru. Nor is it just a religious building – the 20,000-sq-meter complex is almost a citadel within the city.
If you visit only one site in Cuzco, make it these Inca ruins, which form the base of the colonial church and convent of Santo Domingo. Qorikancha was once the richest temple in the Inca empire; all that remains today is the masterful stonework In Inca times, Qorikancha (Quechua for ‘Golden Courtyard’) was literally covered with gold.
A squatter on the site of Viracocha Inca’s palace, the cathedral was built using blocks pilfered from the nearby Inca site of Sacsaywamán. Its construction started in 1559 and took almost a century.
About 25km inland from Barranca lie the monumental ruins of the urban settlement of Caral, which confounded Peruvian archaeologists when they proved to be part of the oldest civilization in all of South America. Before Caral’s discovery, the city of Chavín de Huántar near Huaraz, built around 900 BC, held that particular title.
This immense ruin of both religious and military significance is the most impressive in the immediate area around Cuzco. The long Quechua name means ‘Satisfied Falcon,’ though tourists will inevitably remember it by the mnemonic ‘sexy woman.’ Sacsaywamán feels huge, but what today’s visitor sees is only about 20% of the original structure.
The vast Reserva Nacional de Paracas is a desert reserve that occupies most of the Península de Paracas.
Taking up the whole east side of the Plaza de Mayo is the unmistakeable pink facade of the Casa Rosada (Pink House), the presidential palace that was begun during the presidency of Domingo F Sarmiento. It now occupies a site where colonial riverbank fortifications once stood; today, however, after repeated landfills, the palace stands more than 1km inland.
The Temples of the Sun and the Moon are more than 700 years older than Chan Chan and are attributed to the Moche period. They are on the south bank of the Río Moche, about 10km southeast of Trujillo by a rough road. The entrance price includes a guide The Huaca del Sol is the largest single pre-Columbian structure in Peru, although about a third of it has been washed away.
This hilltop Inca citadel lies high above the village on a triangular plateau with a plunging gorge on either side.
The huge, steep terraces that guard Ollantaytambo’s spectacular Inca ruins mark one of the few places where the Spanish conquistadors lost a major battle The rebellious Manco Inca had retreated to this fortress after his defeat at Sacsaywamán.
The much-loved Yavari is the oldest steamship on Lake Titicaca. In 1862 the Yavari and its sister ship, the Yapura, were built in Birmingham, England, of iron parts - a total of 2766 for the two vessels.
Bellavista entrance (Pío Nono 450, Barrio Bellavista; Baquedano); Providencia entrance (Av Pedro de Valdivia & El Cerro, Providencia; Pedro de Valdivia) The best sweeping views over Santiago are from the peaks and viewpoints of the Parque Metropolitano , better known as Cerro San Cristóbal.