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World Heritage Site

for World Heritage Travellers

Qhapaq Ñan

Qhapaq Ñan

Qhapaq Nan is the Andean road system created by the Inca civilization.

They used it for the purposes of communication, trade and defence. It reached its maximum expansion in the 15th century. The central square of Cusco, known as Hanan Hauk'aypata, is the origin of the four main roads that allowed the Incas to easily travel by foot to every corner of their territory.

This is a serial nomination of over 720km of stretches of road and 291 archaeological sites, stretching across Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

Map of Qhapaq Ñan

Legend

  • Cultural

Visit May 2011, September 2017

With this huge Qhapaq Nan serial nomination, the Andean countries seem to have clustered all Inca-sites of any importance. I visited the area in 2011, and besides Cuzco/Tiwanaku/Quebrada de Humahuaca which are already WHS in their own right I visited some of the "lesser" sites too.

Pachacamac is an easy half-day trip out of Lima. I took one of the dozens of minibuses that leave all the time from Avenida Grau. It dropped me off right at the site's entrance. There's a little museum on site, displaying some pretty Wari ceramics and also textile that has survived the ages due to the extremely dry climate here.

Its location indeed is one of the most remarkable things about Pachacamac - it's out there in the desert, within sight from the sea. The site is totally covered in sand. Archeologists are only slowly making their way to the many temples and other features below. Most of it is off limits to visitors, though the Temple of the Sun can be climbed and other parts like the North-South Street have explanatory boards. You can do a full circuit walk of the large terrain in about an hour (if you have a car, you can also drive).

Pachacamac was a ceremonial and pilgrimage site between 200 and 1535. It was used by different civilizations: the Lima, the Wari, the Ichma and the Inca. Its most distinguishing fact is that it predominantly is a Wari site, a culture which is not represented on the List yet. But it's not the best place to see Wari remains - Pachacamac never was a central site for them, and the Inca added and altered a lot.

May 2011, September 2017

Ollantaytambo, the village with the difficult name (they shorten it to Ojanta in everyday speech), is located in the Sacred Valley, between Cuzco and Machu Picchu. Unlike Machu Picchu, the Spaniards have been here. In a famous battle, the Incas led by Manco Inca defeated the invaders.

Against a hillside on the outskirts of the village lie the ruins of a religious complex, built by the Incas in the 15th century. I slowly walked up the stairs along the terraces, which are very steep and tightly constructed. What immediately stands out here are the giant blocks of stone, the monoliths. This is something you do not see Machu Picchu. I always associated them with Tiwanaku, Bolivia.

On top there are a lot of loose, semi-finished stones on the top. And the ruins of a temple. The complex seems to have been abandoned before it was completely finished. Or hit by an earthquake. This is a fascinating place, with beautiful views over the valley. On a mountain slope on the other side you can still see the remains of warehouses that the Incas used to store their agricultural products. My visit to Ollantaytambo rivalled that of Machu Pichu.

May 2011, September 2017

In Ecuador in 2017 I visited another one of the associated sites, Ingapirca. The Inca started to expand their empire northwards into Ecuador from Peru only from 1463. They met with a lot of resistance, notably from the Cañari people who were local to the area around Cuenca. The interesting feature of Ingapirca is that it is a mixed Cañari – Inca site. The Inca Túpac Yupanqui ended up marrying a Cañari princess, and the two groups reputedly lived together peacefully afterwards although they kept their own customs.

The guides that accompany visitors to the archaeological site identify themselves as indigenous Cañari, and they are happy to point out especially these remains. The Cañari worshipped the moon, and the remains of their Temple of the Moon cover the first plateau at the site. There’s an interesting communal tomb in front of it, with a vertical monolith on top. Here a woman of high social class was buried together with 10 other men and women who – according to the guide – were sacrificed alive. A bit further into the complex a rock with holes in it represents a Cañari “lunar calender”. The different holes were filled with water to catch the reflections of the moon for each moon-month of the year.

May 2011, September 2017

Ingapirca is also the largest known Inca ruin site in Ecuador. The most significant remain of that period is the Temple of the Sun, an elliptically shaped building constructed around a large rock. The typical Inca construction style, that can be seen in the many sites around Peru, is also clearly distinguishable here at Ingapirca. Because of the type of local stones that they used, the temple has an attractive greenish hue.

There’s a stretch of Inca road next to the Temples of the Moon and the Sun that was identified by our guide as ‘Qhapaq Nan’ and part of the UNESCO World Heritage. It is maybe 50 meters long and does not seem to go anywhere in particular. The Inca incorporated their newly won territories in their road network often as much as a symbol of their strength, as well as a means for communication and transportation.

Community Reviews


Nan Germany 15-Nov-17

Qhapaq Ñan by Nan

A site like Qhapaq Nan is fairly difficult to grasp. Is it the roads the Inkas built to connect all parts of their empire? Or does it refer to the sites the roads connect? Or a combination of the two? It doesn't really help that the nomination file comes in at 500 MB, the site names are somewhat cryptic IDs and that the GPS coordinates repeatedly do not match the nomination file boundaries. For a detailed discussion using Pachacamac as example, check Solivagants comments in the forum. 

To tackle the site I visited multiple points along my trip in Peru and Bolivia. You will find comments for each below. Personally, I would prefer the site to be limited to the actual trails instead of serving as a one size fits all nomination for Inka sites.

Pachacamac

Pachacamac is located South of Lima and a tentative site on it's own. It's here that the Qhapaq Nan reached the coast. Unfortunately, I was not able to find any remnants of the trail and the nomination file and the GPS coordinate took me into some random suburb wihere I was unable to spot any archeological traces. To get there grab a bus on the Panamericana heading South to Lurin.

Cusco

It's in Cusco that I actually found a trail labeled Qhapaq Nan including a sign. It's very well visible (see my picture) and starts near the Templo de la Luna/Chukimarka. The GPS coordinates we show are nearly correct. The trail runs North to Yuncaypata. My recommendation would be to visit Pisac first and on your way back ask the driver to let you get off at Yuncaypata. From the car window I saw the same Qhapaq Nan posting at -13,4883238, -71,9359134, so I would presume that's where the trail starts on the other side. From there it's a downhill hike back to Cusco.

The market square in Cusco supposedly was the nexus of the Qhapaq Nan and according to our connection Exact Locations inscribed twice (or more) should count, too.

Raqch'i

I took a tourist bus from Cusco to Puno with multiple stops in between, one being Raqch'i. The Qhapaq Nan runs right through it. Upon entering the site head straight for the map posted at the entry and you will see it. I would recommend ignoring in the tour guide and focusing your limited time on the Qhapaq Nan remains which are well visible here.

Tiwanaku

The Qhapaq Nan is also marked for Titwanaku. I didn't see any remains, but well. Again a site that counts twice.


Michael Turtle Australia 05-Mar-16

Qhapaq Ñan by Michael Turtle

This is a strange site to visit - how do you determine whether you have 'seen' it, when it's made up of thousands of kilometres of track all across the continent?

I consider that I have ticked it off because I walked much of the tracks on my way to Machu Picchu in Peru. But you could so it so many other ways - or even spend years walking different routes and still never technically see it all.

I'm glad it has been added to the list, though. It's a really interesting part of national infrastructure and played a huge part in the ability of the Incans to grow their civilisation and conquer so much of South America.

Will UNESCO be tempted to look favourably upon a submission from the US to list the country's interstate highway system now? :)

Read more from Michael Turtle here.


Kyle Magnuson Los Angeles, California - United States of America 10-Jul-14

Qhapaq Ñan by Kyle Magnuson

I've visited three major elements of the Qhapac Nan WHS in Peru.

- Pachacamac

- Cuzco

- Raqchi

1) Pachacamac is a sacred site that was important to the Inca, but long preceded them. The landscape is striking, because the archeological site is within sight of the Pacific ocean, but is very much a desert. Much of the pyramid shaped structure is buried. Pachacamac is truly a monumental site, and must have been stunning even to the Inca.

2) Cuzco is considered the center of Qhapac Nan, indeed the roads all connect to this high-altitude Inca capital. Several streets near the plaza highlight the precision and boldness of Inca architecture. The blocks are enormous, and they look they were set decades ago, not centuries. Behind the cathedral parts of the Inca era palace foundations and walls are visible.

3) Lastly, Raqchi is an important stopping point along Qhapac Nan. The ruined site and surrounding landscape is exquisite. Wetlands surround part of the site, and the various structures highlight varied structures that are somewhat rare. During my visit, Raqchi was merely a stopping point on the road from Cuzco to Puno. I could not have been more pleased, this pit-stop was well worth my time. Indeed, a well-preserved portion of the Andean road approaches the ruins.

Read more from Kyle Magnuson here.


Assif Israel 28-Dec-09

In Argentina this nomination includes multiple locations throughout the Eastern border from Jujuy to Mendosa. I guess it should include the Quebrada de Humahuaca as well. In Salta Province there is a special Inca site atop the Llullaillaco mountain at the height of 6700 meters! Three mummies and an accompanying treasure were unearthed. They are now presented in the Museum of High Mountain Archaeology in Salta (MAAM) where I would recommend a visit.


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Site Info

Full name: Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System

Unesco ID: 1459

Inscribed: 2014

Type: Cultural

Criteria: 2   3   4   6  

Link: By Name By ID

Site History

  • 2014 - Inscribed 
  • 2014 - Revision Includes former Ecuador TWHS Pambamarca (1998), Ingapirca (1998) and cultural part of Lacs du Cajas et Ruines de Paredones (2003)

Locations

The site has 137 locations. Show all

  • Qhapaq Ñan: AR-ACHC-03/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: AR-ANC-13/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: AR-CAC-08/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: AR-CYSA-17/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: AR-LCLP-10/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: AR-LLL-16/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: AR-LLU-07/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: AR-PA-09/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: AR-PIN-20/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: AR-PPG-05/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: AR-QGE-01/C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: AR-RAN-18/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: AR-SRT-02/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: BO-DV-01/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: BO-DV-02/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: BO-DV-03/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-CN-12/CS-2009
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-CS-13/CS-2010
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-CS-14/C-2010
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-CS-15/CS-2010
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-CS-16/CS-2010
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-CT-10/CS-2010
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-IN-05/CS-2009
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-IN-06/CS-2009
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-LN-07/CS-2009
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-LN-08/CS-2009
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-LN-09/CS-2009
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-PF-33/CS-2010
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-PF-34/CS-2010
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-PN-17/CS-2010
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-PN-18/CS-2010
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-PR-19/C-2010
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-PR-20/CS-2010
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-PR-21/C-2010
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-PR-22/C-2010
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-PR-23/CS-2010
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-PS-01/C-2009
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-RP-24/CS-2010
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-RP-25/C-2010
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-RP-26/S-2010
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-RP-27/S-2010
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-RP-28/CS-2010
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-RP-29/CS-2010
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-RP-30/CS-2010
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-RP-31/CS-2010
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-RP-32/CS-2010
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-SS-02/CS-2009
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-SS-03/CS-2009
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-SS-04/S-2009
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CH-TN-11/CS-2009
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CO-RP-01-C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CO-RP-01-C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CO-RP-02-C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CO-RP-03-C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CO-RP-04-C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CO-RP-05-C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CO-RP-06-C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CO-RP-07-C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CO-RP-08-C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: CO-RP-09-C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: EC-AI-11/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: EC-BP-22/C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: EC-CQ-09/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: EC-CR-14/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: EC-CT-23/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: EC-CV-25/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: EC-EH-13/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: EC-HH-19/C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: EC-JC-07/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: EC-LC-06/C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: EC-LL-16/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: EC-LQ-05/C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: EC-ME-04/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: EC-MM-17/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: EC-PC-08/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: EC-PGPC-12/C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: EC-PP-18/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: EC-PTA-02/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: EC-PTB-03/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: EC-QS-26/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: EC-SASA-20/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: EC-SL-28/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: EC-SS-21/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-ALP-60/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-CD-02/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-CD-03/C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-CD-04/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-CD-06/C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-CD-08/C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-CD-09/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-CD-10/C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-CD-11/C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-CD-12/C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-CD-13/C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-CD-14/C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-CD-15/C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-HH-41/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-HH-42/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-HH-43/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-HH-44/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-HH-45/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-HH-46/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-HH-47/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-HH-48/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-HH-49/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-HH-50/C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-HH-51/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-HH-52/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-HH-53/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-HH-54/C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-HH-55/C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-HH-56/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-HH-57/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-HH-58/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-HH-59/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-OL-16/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-OL-17/C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-OL-18/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-OL-19/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-OL-21/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-PH-01/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-PQ-27/C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-VCH-22/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-VCH-23/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-VCH-24/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-VCH-26/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-XP-30/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-XP-31/S-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-XP-32/C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-XP-33/CS-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-XP-34/C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-XP-35/S-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-XP-36/S-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-XP-37/C-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-XP-38/S-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-XP-39/S-2011
  • Qhapaq Ñan: PE-XP-40/CS-2011

Look where they are, via this Map.

Connections

The site has 41 connections.

Constructions

  • Unfinished constructions: Ollantaytambo: The unfinished structures at the Temple Hill and the numerous stone blocks that litter the site indicate that it was still undergoing construction at the time of its abandonment (wiki)
  • Pictographs: Finca de Chañaral Site (CH-PF-34/CS-2010) - "There is a set of panels with paintings or pictographs, covering almost the entire length of the narrows (about 2km). The designs are made with red paint on the rocky outcropping that forms the narrows, on both of its sides. They measure between 2 and 20 metres high. The motifs are varied: anthropomorphism, zoomorphism, abstracts, geometrics, masks, etc. There are approximately 200 motifs, arranged jointly or isolated." (Nom File)
  • Notable Bridges: Puente Q'eswachaca (rope bridge) Link
  • Baths: At Puente del Inca Link
  • Tombs: Chullpas of Pata-Ccaje, Tolas of Quitoloma
  • Aqueduct: Caranqui
  • Petroglyphs: Cabuyal

Ecology

Geography

History

  • Qhapaq Nan (Inca)
  • Pre-Inca cultures: Tiwanaku at Tiwanaku, Canari at Ingapirca
  • Camino Real: " In the colonial period, the Spaniards began to administer the existing roads and ordered the creation of new roads to link the main administrative centres of the Viceroyalty of Peru and (later on) of the Viceroyalty of New Granada. In the Northern Andes, Qhapaq Nan was called Camino Real, and was connected to other roads to link the capital of the Royal Audience of Quito to Santa Fe de Bogotá, capital of the Viceroyalty of New Granada" and "This road, known as the Camino Real connected Cusco with the city of La Paz. Fernando de Matienzo, in his work titled Ancient Memoires of the History and Politics of Peru ([1567] 1967), makes reference to the existence of the Camino Real which started at Cusco and went all the way to Charcas" (both from Nom File)

Human Activity

  • Cultural Routes
  • Human Sacrifice: Children of Llullaillaco Link
  • Mummies: Piramide del Cerro Aconcagua (AR-PIN-20/CS-2011) "with its ceremonial site in La Piramide (ca. 5,300 MASL), has, in a dry-stone wall structure, the mummified body of a child..........In the protected landfill of one of the dry-stone walls there was the funerary bundle containing the tightly folded body of an infant of some 7 years of age, half-buried and slanted due to displacement" (Nom File)
  • Irrigation and drainage: Choquequirao, Huamachuco
  • Man-made Terraces: Huacahuasi, Rumiqolqa, Choqetakarpu
  • Astronomy and Astrology: Observatory at Machu Picchu, Lunar calendar at Ingapirca

Individual People

  • Tupac Inca Yupanqui: Extended the Inca empire northward connected with the Qhapaq Nan
  • Francisco Pizarro: Through San Marcos and Yamobamba one arrives at the town of Baños, where the Inca Atahualpa was when Francisco Pizarro arrived with his soldiers in November 1532 and from there it is a short distance to Cajamarca, the city where both met in an unequal battle (Nom File) + Conquest of Cuzco
  • Visited by Alexander von Humboldt on his travels: One of the first people to mention the road in his writings was the German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, who visited the Andes in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century (nom file)
  • Max Uhle: Includes the "Archaeological Sanctuary of Pacahacamac (PEXP-40/CS-2011)". This site was first excavated by Uhle "His site report of work at Pachacamac was highly praised and is still used as a basic text for studying South American archaeology." - (Wiki). He also travelled and documented parts of the Qapac Nan as far south as sections in Argentina -e.g "nowhere else in Argentina or Peru have I found larger or more beautiful fragments of Inca style earthenware jars than from among the ruins of the home of the Inca in La Rioja". (Uhle 1923)" (Nom file)

Timeline

  • Built in the 15th century: The central thrust of the Incas' policy, initiated in the sixth century and recorded in millennia of pre-Hispanic Andean history, was expressed to the fullest in terms of territorial spread and maximum linkages among cultures in the fifteenth century (nom file)

Trivia

WHS on Other Lists

World Heritage Process