What to Know About Inca Ruins in Ecuador

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The Inca Empire was centered in Peru – the capital of Cusco and Machu Picchu are both in Peru. But the empire was much bigger than that and stretched as far south as Santiago in Chile and as far north as Colombia. It included all of Ecuador and today Ecuador has some pretty impressive Inca ruins.

The Incas built a massive road network across much of western South America while maintaining records with quipu and intricately weaving textiles. Peru is naturally famous for its Inca heritage, but it often crowds out Ecuador which also has a rich Inca heritage.

The Inca Empire extends far beyond Peru

The Inca Empire expanded from the Peruvian highlands in the early 13th century and between 1438 and 1533 they incorporated much of western South America. In 1532 the Spaniards conquered much of the empire, with the last one falling in 1572.

  • Collapsed: Between 1532 and 1572

The empire is considered one of the greatest historical empires in world history, although it lacked what in the Old World were fundamental resources and technologies – such as the use of wheel, draft animals, knowledge of iron or steel, or even a fully developed system. to write (they had Quipu which we still do not fully understand).


Related: What You Didn’t Know About Machu Picchu’s Incredible History

Ingapirca – The largest Inca site in Ecuador

One of the main Inca attractions in Ecuador is Ingapirca. Ingapirca (meaning “Inca Wall”) the largest known archaeological site of Inca ruins in Ecuador. The most important building is the Temple of the Sun – an elliptical-shaped building built around a large rock.

  • Located: In the Ecuadorian province of Cañar
  • The biggest: The largest known Inca archaeological site in Ecuador

The ruins of the walls remain remarkable and were made in the typical Inca way of carving stones to perfection. It uses no adherents or mortars (just like the walls of Machu Picchu). Much remains uncertain about the site and the conquest and destruction of the Spanish did not help matters.


The Spaniards quarried the site for stone to build their own projects. But many ruins remain and are an important tourist attraction in the region.

  • Getting There : A day trip from Cuenca is possible

If one wishes to visit, one can take a day trip from the Ecuadorian city of Cuenca. Another option is to spend a night in the nearest towns of El Tambo or Cañar.

Pumapungo Archaeological Park

Another of the main Inca attractions in Ecuador is the Pumapungo Archaeological Park. The site was once a center of Inca culture. The site was built at the end of the 15th century and included a Temple of the Sun and the Convent of the Virgins of the Sun. In its time, it would have been one of the most beautiful cities of the ancient Inca empire.


It also had political and administrative buildings. It has the largest set of Inca archaeological ruins south of Ingapirca. There will be a large irrigation canal as well as a ritual bath for the purification of the body.

Location: In the historic center of the city of Cuenca

Today, one can explore the ruins of Pumapungo, then explore the nearby Ethnographic Museum to better understand the history of Pumapungo and the indigenous peoples of Ecuador. At the foot of the Museum, you can see a tunnel more than thirty meters long. It served as a mausoleum and symbolized the underworld (the home of ancestral spirits).


Museum opening hours:

  • Monday: Farm
  • From Tuesday to Friday : 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Sunday and public holidays: from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Entrance fees to the pumapungo museum: FREE ENTRY

Related: Introduction to the Sacred Valley of the Incas: Home of Machu Picchu, Cusco and the Heart of the Empire

Other Inca Attractions in Ecuador

Rumicucho:

A convenient thing about the Rumicucho Inca Ruins is that they are only a short drive from the Ecodorian capital of Quito. It is one of the most visited sites in the country and the ruins are believed to represent both the Inca and pre-Inca peoples.

It was subsequently reputed to be both a military site and a place of worship.

White Water:

Agua Blanca is located on the Pacific side of the country in Machalilla National Park. It represents one of the last remnants of the Monteño culture in Ecuador. The site also has a small archaeological museum.

All Santos:

The site of Todos los Santos began with pre-Inca cultures before becoming part of the Inca sphere. It was hidden under a Spanish flour mill for years and wasn’t discovered until the 1970s.


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