29 Jan

We traveled to Ingapirca on a fabulously sunny day. The archeological site sits at 10,500 feet in the Andes. The largest archeological ruins in Ecuador, it is the only complete elliptical structure left by the Incas.

The Canari tribe inhabited this site before the Inca. In fact the Inca civilization inhabited Ingapirca for just 70 years before being conquered by the Spanish. The name of the site Inga (Inca) and Pirca (wall) is even rooted in the native language of Quechua.

Unlike other people the Canari fiercely resisted the loss of their culture when invaded by the Incas. In fact, the Inca king married a Canari princess and the two cultures blended. But the cultures kept separate customs.

The Canari worshipped the moon, a matriarchal society. And the Incas worshipped the sun, a patriarchal society. The physical site at Ingapirca reflects these two spiritual beliefs. The overall design is in the form of a puma, a strong Canari spirit, and includes curvilinear half moon designs.

The stones used by the Canari are rounded and held together with mortar. The Inca cut stone in precise blocks and stack them so closely together a knife blade cannot fit in the spaces between.

Inca buildings are placed precisely to face the East, the rising sun. Doorways, windows and sacred stones are placed to measure the solstices (winter in June, summer in December in the southern hemisphere) so that the sun measures time with exact placement in the structures.

The rectilinear sun temple of the Incas was used for ceremonies and ritual sacrifice.

The Canari were one of the only “conquered” tribes to coexist successfully with the warlike Inca. The descendants of both civilizations inhabit Ecuador today.

Editor’s Note: I visited Machu Picchu in Peru and the site was overwhelmed by visitors. There were lines to enter many of the structures. In comparison, Ingapirca is relatively undiscovered. The peace, open space and untouched beauty are a gift.

12 Responses to “Ingapirca”

  1. Leah January 31, 2019 at 3:14 am #

    Hey neighbors, Just catching up with your adventure. It looks wonderful. The craftsman-ship on putting those blocks together is so amazing to think about. I’ve never heard of the Canari but love the creation story. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jill and Dana January 31, 2019 at 7:58 am #

      The collaboration between the Canari and the Inca stands in great contrast to the evidence of the Incas as brutal conquerors we saw in earlier in their history. In the case of the Canaris it was close to the end of the Incas as they were being conquered by the Spanish and the destruction of their civilization. I wonder if this influenced their willingness to blend with the Canari?

  2. Sue Garfitt January 30, 2019 at 6:58 am #

    We have heard that Machu Picchu was getting 5000 visitors a day and in overwhelm! This looks fantastic.Thank you for sharing-great pics. Sue:)

    • Jill and Dana January 30, 2019 at 9:10 am #

      Really good to have you with us Sue. Last time I heard the day limit at Machu Picchu was 500. But I think they have reduced it once again. Good for Peru. You will appreciate that one of my most memorable Peru experiences. We dug potatoes from a farmer’s field, built a horno from the field dirt, roasted and ate the unusual and delicious potatoes with different salsas handmade by our Spanish teachers…an unbelievable day.

  3. Nancy Lehrhaupt January 30, 2019 at 12:24 am #

    What a great day! Especially to have it be so “undiscovered”! Looks incredible!

    • Jill and Dana January 30, 2019 at 12:40 am #

      Our guide, Martin Avila, was excellent. He really explained the present culture and its relationship to the Canari and Incas. He is also part of a group that is working to preserve and teach the next generation about the importance of Ecuador’s unique archeology…very inspiring guy.

  4. Derek January 29, 2019 at 11:17 pm #

    It’s always special to go somewhere that feels undiscovered. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jill and Dana January 30, 2019 at 12:37 am #

      We were lucky to see this now. Ecuador has no money to excavate all of their many archeological sites but they understand their value and honor them. There were also llamas foraging on the site. I am saving that photo for later.

  5. paul mabarrack January 29, 2019 at 11:16 pm #

    Enjoyed this. Smaller, understated spaces leave us more room to be part of them. You are right about Machu Picchu…fleets of buses, hordes of visitors.

    • Jill and Dana January 30, 2019 at 12:35 am #

      Machu Picchu is a bit better since Peru has limited the number of daily visitors allowed. They keep talking of building a tram to save all of the hiking up the approach. Even with all of the people it was a marvelous trip there when it was close to solstice.

  6. Maryl Travis January 29, 2019 at 11:00 pm #

    Peaceful and tranquil definitely describe the area. I especially appreciated the last shot with the green hillsides, beautiful blue skies and fluffy white clouds. Especially needed on a day like today when we are experiencing near white out conditions and zero temps. Just the photographic “gift” we needed today!!

    • Jill and Dana January 30, 2019 at 12:30 am #

      We’ve been following your weather. The wind chill factor sounds brutal, brrrr. Here it is usually between 60 and 70. The mornings are cloudy, the afternoons are sunny and late afternoon/evening it rains almost everyday. The day we went to Ingapira it was uncharacteristically sunny all day. We stopped at a local food stand and sampled Hornado Cerdo. We ordered it frito (fried to perfection.) It was served in a styrofoam container with mote (a typed or corn) and a pan fried potato pancake. Delish. We see untold number of potato varieties in the market. Few are known to us.

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