It’s difficult to ignore the incredible history of the Incas on a Peru tour. Central to the Incas were Machu Picchu and the Islands of Lake Titicaca. Here is a quick history of the Incas in Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu
Lake Titicaca: The Island of the Sun
Every culture has a creation story and the Incas were no exception. For them, the sun and the moon rose up out of Lake Titicaca to create Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, the first Inca rulers. The Island of the Sun is a beautiful, quiet island with one, wide footpath running along the hilly island top. Here are the remains of that creation story: two large footprints , said to have been left by the sun and moon when they descended to earth.
At the far end of the Island of the Sun, are the labyrinthine ruins of Chinkana and a sacred rock shaped like a puma. Here, it is said, the Inca Empire began when Manco Capac was formed by the sun. When the sun shines on Lake Titicaca and the snow capped Andes can be seen in the distance, this is a spectacular place indeed and it is easy to believe that here the Andean world was formed.
Near the Island of the Sun, The Island of the Moon has fewer physical remains. Evidence shows that the Incas housed ´chosen women´, something like concubines, on the Island of the Moon in a sort of pagan convent. Women would then be taken to sites such as Machu Picchu for ceremonies.
Visit The Island of the Sun on our La Paz to Lima Adventure
Lake Titicaca: Copacabana
Built in the 16th Century, the beautiful church of Our Lady of Copacabana continues to draw pilgrims from all over Bolivia. Copacabana has been a sacred spot for centuries and around the pretty little town are remnants of the Incas presence, from the fascinatingly carved rocks of the ´Seat of the Incas´, to the small museum at the Inca Baths.
Lake Titicaca: Puno
The story and remains of the Incas often blend with the stories of the cultures that came before or after. Many sites have been used by different cultures over the centuries. Outside Puno, the most striking monuments are not Inca at all. The pre-Inca funerary towers of Silustani were built by the Colla people in the 15th Century.
Lake Titicaca to Cusco: Raqchi
The story goes that Manco Capac and his family were told by the sun to go south to Cusco and found a city there. Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu, then, have always been connected as a trade route for the Inca Empire. Nowadays, many visitors make this tour from Puno to Cusco accross the high altiplano. One popular stop is at the impressive ruins of Raqchi. In its day, this was the largest roofed structure in the Inca Empire. The Temple of Viracocha at Raqchi is a combination of stone colums and adobe walls – an impressive sight against the backdrop of the Andean mountains.
Until the Spanish arrived in 1533, Cusco really was the ´navel of the world´; the center of the Inca Empire covering from Colombia down as far as Chile and Argentina. Successive Incan rulers spread their roads and customs over South America, and Cusco was the administrative heart of all this. The legacy of the Incas is still very much in evidence in Cusco. See for example the walled Hatunrumiyoc, Street. meaning 12-sided stone, or look for the stone foundations of many of the city´s major buildings.
Maybe part of the attraction of Machu Picchu is that nobody knows for sure exactly what it was. The general view is that the deeply ceremonial Incas built the site as a temple, or place of worship, but it is also large enough for a small army to live there. The high quality of the stonework and abundance of ornamental work does point to its use for ceremonies. What is not in doubt, though, is the spectacular setting of Machu Picchu which continues to captivate visitors to Peru.
The Inca journey to Machu Picchu ended, after the invaion of the Spanish, not far from Machu Picchu in the lost city of Vilcabamba.
Follow in the footsteps of the Incas with our Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu Tour