Top Archaeological Sites in Bolivia

Bolivia is home to a great many interesting archaeological sites, originally constructed by ancient and fascinating civilisations.  They are in various states of decay and preservation, come from different time periods, and have been discovered over the course of many years.  Some are firm favourites on the tourist trail, whilst others are relatively recent finds and still being excavated by archaeologists.

Tiwanaku

Tiwanaku is a major site in the country, dating back to pre-Columbian times.  It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It is in the western part of the country, near to Lake Titicaca, and was the capital of a mighty empire that that was powerful between 300 and 1000 AD.  The empire spread into areas that are now within the countries of Peru and Chile. The area is believed to have been inhabited, however, since at least 1500 BC. It is seen as having been one of the most important civilisations before the Incas. Tiwanaku sits between the lake and highlands. As well as being a core part of the Empire, it was also an important destination for pilgrims. People believe that the significance of the area for those looking for cosmological and ethical guidance was in existence before it became a central part of the Empire. Indeed, it may have been these qualities that led to it having been chosen as the heart. 

Akapana

Visitors can see various buildings that have been excavated. These include the Akapana, a large cross pyramid, and Akapana East, the big stepped platform of Pumapunku with its megalithic facing blocks, and the enormous gated courtyard of the Kalasasaya.  The Gateway of the Sun was found in the courtyard. The Semi Subterranean Temple is near to this courtyard.  It was built using many sandstone pillars with smaller blocks. There are tenon heads in the walls, of numerous different styles.  One can also visit the Putini enclosures and the Kheri Kala. There are many grand gateways and impressive stone carvings around the site. Lots of the gateways depict Gods with Staffs. The overall architecture at Tiwanaku is known for its large stones that show outstanding qualities and skills of workmanship.        

Interested parties can visit the quarries from where the blocks for Tiwanaku were taken. These are quite a long way from the Tiwanaku site; the enormous blocks were conveyed over ten kilometres!  Other stones were taken from across the lake, from the Copacabana peninsula. 

Lukurmata

Another of Bolivia’s archaeological sites near to Lake Titicaca is Lukurmata. It was established almost two thousand years ago. It was a secondary site that went into decline shortly after the collapse of Tiwanaku. It was an important ceremonial centre for the Empire.

On Lake Titicaca there is the Island of the Sun. The Inca civilisation believed this to be the birthplace of the Sun, gods, and all civilisation. The Island of the Moon is also on the lake, and is said to be the place from where the moon was ordered to ascend into the sky. It is another sacred spot in Bolivia. 

Fairly recently, archaeologists have found the ruins and remains of a settlement that is around 10,400 years old. It is, so far, the oldest discovered archaeological site in the Amazon region. Soil samples were found to contain remnants of animal bones, snail shells, and charcoal. The top later also contained human bones, tools made from bone, and pottery fragments.  The site is still being excavated, explored, and researched.

Khonkho Wakane

Chiripa is a remote site, and one that was a very early village. It predates the mighty Tiwanaku. Khonkho Wakane is another site nearby. Whilst in the area you can also visit Kala Huta. Also known as the House of Stone, here you can see many Inka and pre-Inka stone structures and buildings. On the edges of Lake Titicaca, it is an incredibly interesting site.

Inkallajta

The ruins at Inkallajta are not so visited. It is, however, the most important Inca site in the country. Set in a magnificent picturesque area, the ruins are surrounded by mountains and hills, with streams and a cascading waterfall nearby.  It is believed to have been constructed in the latter part of the 1400s. It is a huge ancient complex that contains numerous buildings, interior stone walls, and an outer defensive and protective wall.

Samaipata is the country’s biggest pre-Inka site. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was a ritual site for the Mojocoyas culture, and it dates back to around 300 AD. There are enormous rock sculptures and an impressive temple that was used for various ceremonies, rituals, and rites.

Others include Horca del Inca in Copacabana and Kimsa Chata, which is in the La Paz area.

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