Tiwanaku is Bolivia’s most important archaeological site. It was the administrative and religious capital of the pre-Incan Tiwanaku civilization, which flourished for over 500 years. Some people settled here much earlier, but Tiwanaku was thriving by 300 AD. At its height, it may have had a population of 60,000. They developed an efficient system of agricultural canals that provided some solar heat as well as water for the crops.
The site is not in great shape—when the Spanish came, they used a lot of the stone blocks for a cathedral and some other projects. Then, after independence, the Bolivian government allowed the site to be used as a public quarry! An American archaeologist persuaded them to protect it as a national treasure, and restoration is slowly happening.
We started at the on-site museum, and then explored the Akapana pyramid and the temple. Seven was a sacred number. The step pyramid had 7 layers, and the temple had 7 columns per side. They also had 7 compass points—the standard four, plus up, middle and down.
There are several large monoliths on the temple grounds. The oldest one has bullet holes—the military actually used it for target practice before the site was protected.
The Spanish tried to destroy the other one (which is about 1500 years old) but they couldn’t, so they defaced it and then buried it. They knocked off the nose and its crown, and then carved a cross on its arm. It was underground for a long time before it was found again (which may be why it has no bullet holes.)
Eventually a long drought caused a water shortage and crop failure. They made sacrifices—starting with llamas and ending with humans—but it didn’t help. By 1200 the site was abandoned.
Tiwanaku or in Spanish 'Tiahuanacu' is an important Pre-Columbian archaeological site near La Paz. It is recognised as one of the most important influences on the Inca Empire being the religious and administrative centre of a major power for over 500 years. It was discovered by Pedro Cieza de León in 1549.
It is thought that a small village has been on the site since 1500 BC although most research was based on the period from 300 - 1000 AD.
Although again unclear, it is believed that the site is dedicated to Wiracocha. An image thought to of the god is carved in to a structure called Gateway of the Sun.
The site is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Photographs courtesy of R. Ferguson. (I lost mine when my camers bag was stolen in Buenos Aires)
Opening hours: Daily 9am-4:30pm
Tiwanaku (or Tiahuanaco) is a couple of hours ride from La Paz, and many tour companies do day trips out there. It was definitely worth it when we went, as the whole place is a jumble of various ancient artifacts and temples. It's even older than the Incans (>1000 years) and is very impressive. Highly recommended.
If you have not the time enough to visit Tiwanaku, there is a replica of one of the temples in the middle of La Paz, on a square situated very close to Estadio Hernando Siles (soccer stadium).
Si no tienes tiempo suficiente para visitar Tiwanaku, hay una réplica de uno de sus templos en el centro de La Paz, en una plaza situada muy cerca del Estadio Hernando Siles.
Spaniard conquerors destroyed the Tiwanaku constructions and used the stones to built their own buildings (there is a town near there, Laja, which church was built with these stones).
The ruins of Tiwanaku have been rebuilt recently; there is a Museum close to the ruins where anthropological and archaeological pieces can be seen.
Los conquistadores españoles destruyeron las construcciones de Tiwanaku y utilizaron las piedras para construir sus propios edificios (hay un pueblo cercano, Laja, cuya iglesia fue construida con estas piedras).
Las ruinas de Tiwanaku han sido reconstruidas recientemente; hay un Museo cercano a las ruinas, en donde se exhiben piezas arqueológicas y antropológicas.
Tiwanaku ruins are situated near La Paz (73 km); the original name was "Taypicala" (central stone); "Tiwanaku" (place of guanacos) was the name Incas gave to. Tiwanakota culture lasts from 1500 BC to 1200 AD, and covered Bolivian Tableland, North Argentine and Chile, and South Peru.
The Tiwanaku people had important knowledges about architecture, astronomy, engineering, sculpture, pottery; they had mummies and practiced skull deformity as sign of beauty and power.
Several reasons contributed to disappearance of Tiwanaku empire: civil war, some years of drought and a flood.
Las ruinas deTiwanaku están situadas cerca de La Paz (73 km); el nombre original era "Taypicala" (piedra central); "Tiwanaku" (lugar de guanacos) fue el nombre que le dieron los Incas. La cultura Tiwanakota existió desde el año 1500 AC hasta el 1200 DC, y se extendió por el Altiplano boliviano, el norte de Argentina y Chile y el sur de Perú. Los Tiwanakotas tenían importantes conocimientos de arquitectura, astronomía, ingeniería, escultura, alfarería; practicaban la momificación y la deformación craneal, como signos de belleza y poder.
Varias razones contribuyeron a la desaparición del Imperio Tiwanakota: guerra civil, una sequía de varios años y una inundación.