Tiahuanaco Travel Guide

  • Tiahuanaco
    by bighock58
  • Tiahuanaco
    by bighock58
  • Museums and Puma Punku from Akapana
    Museums and Puma Punku from Akapana
    by AlbuqRay

Tiahuanaco Highlights

  • Pro
    AlbuqRay profile photo

    AlbuqRay says…

     Ancient site with both museum and outdoor venues 

  • Con
    bighock58 profile photo

    bighock58 says…

     $135 for visa for american's 

  • In a nutshell
    Assenczo profile photo

    Assenczo says…

     A must see destination on a side trip from La Paz 

Tiahuanaco Things to Do

  • You've gotta see it to believe it

    The Tiahuanacu site is large and the sun unrelenting. Still, the section called Puma Punktu is a bit out of the way but should not be missed. It has the evidence that the whole hubbub about the Inca achievements is as much a product of the imagination as the alpaca products in the hands of a shoe-shining boy.

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  • The Faces

    The famous carved figure on the decorated archway in the ancient (pre-Incan) city of Tiahuanaco, known as the "Gateway of the Sun," most likely represents Viracocha, flanked by 48 winged effigies, 32 with human faces and 16 with condor's heads. This huge monument is hewn from a single block of stone, and some believe that the strange symbols might...

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  • Gateway of the Sun

    The entrance side of the Portal of the Sun atop the Kalasaya mound. The entire upper panel is intricately carved with a repeating pattern of the images seen in the view above. The monolith has broken and was found partially downfallen in modern times. It has been restored to its original position. The fissure is visible above the right corner of...

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  • Test the perfection of the wall

    insert finger and see the perfect flat panel.Some researchers have concluded that the ancients constructed the site with astronomical alignments in mind called Celestial Observatories.

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  • The Idol

    This is one of two large anthropomorphic figures standings in the southwest corner of the Kalasasaya Temple. This one faces the entrance and is placed on the central axis. The andesite stone used at the ruins was transported from 100 kilometers distance. The sandstone was quarried about 10 miles from the site. With the exception of the Sun Gate, it...

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  • The Ponce monolith

    This monolith is located in the Kalasasaya, in the open air and faces west. Is not as big as Bennett's but is quite impreressive too...It also represents what seems to be a white bearded man, with many symbolic carvings all around him.

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  • Kalasasaya

    This is the main temple here, and inside you will find:- The Sun Gate- The Ponce monolith- The Fraile monolithIt is all surrounded by walls and oriented west... exactly to the Easter Island, where you can find also monoliths that are very similar to those found here...Coincidence???

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  • The Semi-Subterranean Temple

    This medium sized courtyard is studded with sculptured stone heads set into cut-stone facing walls and in the middle of the court was located a now-famous monolithic stela.

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  • Akapana pyramid

    You won't really see a pyramid here, but a hill at the right as you enter the ruins. Here is supposed to be this huge pyramid, similar to those in the aztec or mayan cultures.Is not really much unerathed, in fact there is not even a path to climb. But if you go to the top, all you will see is a small pond and a few stone steles.

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  • The Bennett monolith

    This 7,3 meters high monolith is also one piece stone and is totall covered by carvings with astrological, symbolic and calendar figures.It represents its main God, Viracocha and is placed inside the main museum

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  • Puerta del Sol (Sun Gate)

    This is probably the best known monument here and an icon of the place. It is a one piece stone of 9 tons, 3 meters high, 3,75 wide, with many carvings representing the Viracocha god, and a calendar with interesting signs.It was found unfinished, and is thought to have been planned as part of a big temple.

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  • The Museums

    There are 2 big museums in the site. The first is that where you buy the entrance ticket. There is a patio there with sculptures, and 2 rooms, one with medium size pieces and one with the huge and impressive Bennett monolith.In the other museum there are many small pieces of ceramics and posters with explanations about the history and civilization...

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Tiahuanaco Nightlife

  • annieruel's Profile Photo
    Tiahuanaco

    by annieruel Updated Sep 8, 2003

    Le solstice d'hiver se passe le 21 juin et se fut vraiment unique. Nous fêtons durant la nuit pour attendre le lever du soleil. Les rayons du soleil frappe sur une statue et passe dans une porte ( la puerta del sol) et tout est bien calculer, c'est des calculs vraiement scientifiques... et c'est prouvé...

    Dress Code: Cerca de La Paz

    Related to:
    • Study Abroad

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Tiahuanaco Transportation

  • Taxi or tour

    When looking at options of how to reach Tiahuanaco, there are on one side the organized tours and on the other the taxi. The first enterprise charges per person (10USD) and the second – per car, per day (30USD). Even for two people, the taxi becomes a bargain, since it can pick you up at any desired time from your hotel, unlike the tours, which...

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  • Taxi-bikes

    I arrived here in a mini bus from Desaguadero border (Peru). These mini buses go to La Paz, but will stop at the road junction if required.So I was left there, all alone in the road, and had 15 minutes walk to the ruins. I was preparing my heavy rucksack for the walk, when a nice taxi-bike stopped by me and asked if I wanted a ride. Of course I do!...

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  • Buses from La Paz

    Most people visit the ruins in organized tours of half day from La Paz.But is easy to come here on your own, you just have to take a bus in La Paz (Jose Maria Asin street) and it will take you there in about 1 hour. Buses use to be crowded, but they are frequent and cheap.You can also take buses going to Desaguadero (border with Peru), but they...

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Tiahuanaco Shopping

  • SirRichard's Profile Photo
    My ticket

    by SirRichard Written Jun 3, 2005

    The entrance to the ruins complex costs 80 BS (aprox 10 USD) and it includes:
    - Entrance to the main museum
    - Entrance to the other museum
    - Entrance to the main ruins complex
    - Entrance to Rumu Punku minor ruins

    What to buy: You have to buy it at the main entrance and they cut a piece each time you enter each site.
    Is much cheaper for Bolivians.

    What to pay: 80 Bs / 10 USD

    Related to:
    • Archeology
    • Museum Visits
    • Historical Travel

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Tiahuanaco Local Customs

  • Ifigen1a's Profile Photo

    by Ifigen1a Written Jun 14, 2008

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Every June, 21 there is a celebration for the Aymara's New Year that matches the winter solstice. They wait all night to receive the first sunlights around the ruins. It's extremely cold so be prepared!

    Related to:
    • Festivals
    • Historical Travel

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Tiahuanaco Warnings and Dangers

  • SirRichard's Profile Photo
    Inside the bus

    by SirRichard Written Jun 3, 2005

    If you take the Desaguadero-La Paz bus you will have to stop at the main road junction and then walk a bit to the ruins.
    But be aware of the road signs, local people don't use to stop here and driver might pass the junction without stoping. So look for the signs and warn him in advance.

    It takes about 1 hour from the border to the junction...

    Related to:
    • Backpacking
    • Road Trip

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Tiahuanaco Tourist Traps

  • Entry Cost over priced?

    When I travelled out to Tiahuanaco via micro (intending to put some money into the local economy) I discovered that the entry fee at the site was $80 bolivianos. However tour agencies in La Paz will charge a total of $50 Bolivianos, including transport to and from the site and a tour guide. Its your choice on how you spend the money, but check...

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  • Signs

    Not really a tourist trap, but I found all the signs around where in spanish. No problem for me, but if you don't really manage well in this language, you better bring a dictionary. I think that for a relatively expensive entrance fee (10 USD) they should considering adding at least english translations to the signs... A good option is to take a...

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Tiahuanaco Off The Beaten Path

  • Puma Punku

    Don't make the mistake that I did when you go to Tiahuanaco/Tiwanaku. I saw the small sign for Puma Punku but did not stop. It has not been restored but contains one of the big mysteries of the ancient world. It is still not known how those massive stones were cut and moved with the technology available at the time. I certainly plan to stop there...

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  • Reliefs

    In the west face of the Sun Gate you will find all these carvings on the rock surface: messengers, warriors, Gods, snakes, condors, suns... it all seems to be part of a calendar related with agriculture and seasons.If you take a guide, he will explain to you the meaning of all those figures. If not, just stand in front of the Gate and wait till the...

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  • Puerta de la Luna - Gateway of the Moon

    Puerta de la Luna stands by itself west of the Kalasasaya. The Gateway of the Moon is smaller and less elaborate than the Gateway of the Sun. However, it is also carved from a single stone and has animal designs on it.

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Tiahuanaco Favorites

  • The statues patio

    As you enter the first museum (where you buy the ticket) you will find a simple open patio with many different and interesting statues of the Tiahuanaco culture.

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  • The faces

    What I liked the best in Tiahuanaco were the outstanding stone faces that cover the walls in the semi-subterranean temple. There are many, in white stone out of the red walls, and each one is different, eroded by time and elements, silent witness of a civilizations so full of mysteries...

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  • Viracocha, the Sun God

    Viracocha, Tiahuanaco's main deity, was generally depicted as having staves in both of his hands and anaureole around his head, meaning he was a sun god. It is represented on the bas-relief in the upper part of the famous Sun Gate and you will probably remember it from TINTIN's book The Sun Temple. Here Mr. Herge mixed the Tiahuanaco and the Inca...

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