Iskanwaya

Ruins in Aucapata & Iskanwaya

The major but near-forgotten ruins of Iskanwaya, on the western slopes of the Cordillera Real, sit in a cactus-filled canyon, perched 250m above the Río Llica. Thought to date from between 1145 and 1425, the site is attributed to the Mollo culture. This large citadel was built on two platforms and flanked by agricultural terraces and networks of irrigation canals. It contains more than 70 buildings, plus delicate walls, narrow streets, small plazas, storerooms, burial sites and niches.

While Iskanwaya isn’t exactly comparable to Peru's Machu Picchu, the 13-hectare site is outwardly more impressive than Tiwanaku near La Paz. The government finally allocated money for restoration efforts in 2018; however, discussions over who would manage these funds was ongoing at the time of research.

Unfortunately many of the passionate guides who once took tourists to the ruins have now either moved into mining jobs or passed on, but you could try your luck with Spanish-speaking Manuel Huaqui (phone 7191-8141). For background reading, Iskanwaya: La Ciudadela que Sólo Vivía de Noche, by Hugo Boero Roja (1992), contains photos, maps and diagrams of the site, plus information on nearby villages.

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