Ingapirca Ruins

Entrance to the Sun Temple
Contacting a local tour agency, we made arrangements to visit the Canari and Inca ruins at Ingapirca, two hours outside the city.  Due to our off-season visit, our group tour wound up being a private tour, so we departed Cuenca with our driver/guide, Wilson.  At 10,500 feet, we had to bundle up for our visit.  Showers, wind and high of 45 was our forecast for the day, and typical weather for this location.

On our way to the ruins, we stopped in Biblian to visit Virgen del Rocio, built into the side of the Zhalo mountain, overlooking the city.  This gothic-style church, started in 1893, has the mountain as the back wall of the chapel.  It's a unique church, with a fantastic view of the area

Ingapirca is the largest Inca ruins in Ecuador.   Though originally settled by the Canari, the two
groups were able to reconcile their differences and live together peacefully.  The most outstanding feature of the ruins is the Inca Sun Temple, positioned so sunlight would fall through the center of the doorway of the chamber at the top of the temple at the right time of day on the solstices.  The ruins include a number of workshops, fermentation rooms (they drank huge amounts of chicha, a fermented corn beverage) and storage areas.  The major difference, we noted during our visit, was the precise manner in which the Inca constructed their buildings.  The Canari used rough shaped stones and mortar, and used rectangular windows and entryways.  The Inca used finely chiseled stones which fit together perfectly, with no mortar used, and they used trapezoidal shaped windows and doors which better withstood the earthquakes of the area.  We also saw portions of the original Inca trail, which was constructed from Columbia to Peru.  The trail was used with relay runners, traveling 14 miles each, to deliver messages or products from different areas of the empire.

Visiting the ruins, and hearing the stories of the culture from our guide was a great experience, and the drive through the countryside was beautiful.  Next side trip is to Cajas National Park.
Canari wall with rough stones and mortar, unlike Inca walls above
Llamas on the grounds of the ruins
Virgen del Rocio Chapel
Canari calender
86-year old Panama hat weaver we met on the way to Ingapirca
View of Biblian from the church
View of Virgen del Rocio from the road climbing up the mountain

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