Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Mysterious Fortress of Waqrapukara

At the top of Kenter mountain south of Cuzco in the Acomayo Province, is an impressive and powerful appearing, impregnable archaeological site high on a mountain within endless mountains that span so far they are lost in the horizon. Nestled sinuously on a rocky outcrop along the southern plateau of the Apurímac Valley, the fortress was built around two horn-shaped, towering mountain peaks amidst a never-ending forest.
Waqrapukara (Stronghold of the Horn) is situated atop a mountain between two natural peaks south of Cuzco, and one of the most formidable fortresses in ancient Peru
Known as Waqrapukara (Waqra Pukara, meaning” Horn-shaped Fortress,” or “Stronghold of the Horn” in Quechua), it is above eight walled terraces, steep retaining walls and stone stairways overlooking the dizzying heights 13,500 feet above the Apurímac River Valley below.
    Built strictly for defense, this enigmatic near hidden, rectangular shaped stone fortress of gigantic rock formations with its niches and double and triple jamb doorways, also served as a sanctuary and astronomical observatory. At one end are additional enclosures, one of which is an E-shaped structure, flanked by a longitudinal wall with trapezoidal niches. Its shear, defensive walls that could not be breached, enclosed a serpentine complex overlooking the deep raving to the Apurímac River valley, and had an underground channel that provided water to the fortress.
    This archaeological site was linked to astrological observation and rituals for the development of agricultural activity, since the structures of this site are oriented towards the sunrise. Like the 2½ square-mile complex observatory at Chankillo, another ridgeline observatory to the south along the west coast, these are oriented to the rising and setting positions of the sun over the year, showing when the winter and summer solstices occurred for planting and harvesting.
The circular and rectangular houses and structures of Mauk’allaqta, whose niches and triple door jambs, like those of Pachacamac, are found at Waqrapukara

Mauk’allaqta Within the stone structure are vaulted niches with three jambs, a rare detail found elsewhere only in the architecture of Pachacamac and Maukallaqta (Mauka Llactta, Mauk’allaqta, meaning “Ancient Place”)—with over 200 structures, it is the largest pre-Columbian site in the Pacariqtambo region.
    The landscape surrounding Waqrapukara is breathtaking, and one of the most beautiful sites in the Andean area, and as an archaeological site, one must add the scenic impact of the surroundings and the spectacular rock formations. This altiplano páramo is interrupted by the edges of an immense canyon where fierce bursts of wind ascend the abyss forming capricious cloud figures on the heights of the gully, along with sudden altering temperatures, which changes from near minus temperatures at dawn to the heat of midday.
    The structure itself dominates the landscape without transforming its spectacular appearance, as the curves in the terraces of carved stone seem to hold the Waqra (horn), which resembles a double-peaked crown atop the mountain.
    As the experienced archaeologist Miguel Cornejo Guerrero of the University of Peru has stated: “Waqrapukara is an ancient sanctuary of the first order, which denotes immense political and religious power that has not yet been deciphered. The whole natural environment warns from afar that a special, unusual site of an incomparable beauty in this spectacular vision of natural formations, where the ancients molded or inserted a wonderful ceremonial architecture, merging and making all the natural creation with the best of its artistic architecture.” Coupled with Tambopukara, Yactapukara and Ayapukara, Waqrapukara forms an area of sites that are relatively unknown today, even by the locals who live nearby.
Views of Waqrapukara, an enigmatic structure whose full purpose has not yet been understood by archaeologists, though it obviously served as a defensive position 

Waqrapukara was obviously built with painstaking care, constructed of stacked small boulders and cut stone, about a two-hour hike from the town of San Lucia, atop Kenter Mountain and the cliffs along the east bank of the Apurímac River, across from the towns of Omancha and Accha, and about 15 miles west of Pomacanchi and 18 miles from Pomacanchi and Pampamarca lakes.
Waqrapukara in the Kenter Mountain above the Apurímac River Canyon north of San Lucia and across from the towns of Omacha and Accha

Today this area is considered off the beaten path, being south of the main tourist areas of Cuzco and the Apurímac  River Valley, and obviously when anciently constructed was meant to be a hideaway sanctuary for either seclusion, hiding or making a stand against an enemy as shown by the defensive walls and nature of the structures.
It is one of the most difficult fortresses or settlement to reach in the ancient Andean world and other than being a fortress sanctuary and observatory seems to have little other purpose, yet its defensive structure is extensive

It was obviously built with painstaking care, constructed of small boulders and cut stone  
    In an area that today is considered off the beaten path, obviously meant to be a hideaway sanctuary for either hiding or make a stand against an enemy as shown by the defensive walls and nature of the structures.
    It was constructed later than Cuzco, or the city of Nephi, and in the opposite direction from Cuzco than the Urubamba River Valley fortresses of Ollantaytambo, Urubamba, Calca and Pisac. Along the ancient road between Cuszo and Puno at Lake Titicaca, Lake Pomacanchi is about 40 miles from Cuzco, then nearly 20 miles through mountainous wilderness to Waqrapukara. It would not likely have served as a defensive position against Lamanites moving northward through the La Raya Pass, about 90 miles south of Pomacanchi, nor would there have been much chance of it being attacked in the Nephite era since it was so isolated from the main movement along the canyon direct from La Raya to Cuzco.
The Apurímac River flows through canyons and valleys on its way down from Mismi Ridge toward Cuzco. Note the area of passable land along the river’s banks within the canyon where a dedicated band of warriors might have braved the difficulty to launch an attack against the Nephites in Cuzco (city of Nephi)

On the other hand, it could have been a defense against enemy advances up the Apurímac Valley, or possibly down the Apurímac rive from Arequipa, skirting the canyons, which eventually flowed past Cuzco, the original Nephite stronghold before Mosiah left with the more righteous to settle in Zarahemla.
    Certainly, its very defensive construction and location, though used as an observatory, would not have been built just for that purpose since an observatory would not need to be defended in such a manner—though its location on top of a mountain would be ideal for observing the stars. Nor would it simply have been a sanctuary where people could retreat to for rest and relaxation since it is so difficult to reach. No, its purpose was to defend against something or someone, but its location does not suggest a strong answer to what or who.
    Thus, having defied the best minds trying to figure out its true purpose, the difficulty has earned it the title of enigmatic and mysterious.


  1. If it has megalithic rockwork then it was probably built before the time of Mosiah and the exodus from the city of Nephi. If not, maybe the Lamanites or even the Inca built it.

  2. It appears that neither the Lamanites nor the Inca accomplished much in building. What has often been attributed to the Inca is simply not true, and almost all the edifices built in Andean Peru (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile) predate the Inca period by a considerable amount of years. This is verified by most archaeologists who actually have done work in Andean Peru, as well as personal contacts in the area over the years who are knowledgeable about this matter.
    The only indication in the scriptural record of Lamanite building is found in: “Aaron took his journey towards the land which was called by the Lamanites, Jerusalem, calling it after the land of their fathers' nativity; and it was away joining the borders of Mormon. Now the Lamanites and the Amalekites and the people of Amulon had built a great city, which was called Jerusalem. (Alma 21:1-2). Since the Amalekites and people of Amulon were Nephites who defected, it would seem probable that the Lamanties were used as workers, and were told what and how to do the building.
    This would be consistent with the type of patchwork repairs on Nephite walls, etc., that can be seen and has been accurately attributed to the Inca.