Peru’s UNESCO Heritage Sites
The following is a list of Peru’s UNESCO Heritage Sites:
- Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu
- Historic Center of Lima
- City of Cuzco
- Chan Chan Archaeological Zone
- Chavin Archaeological Site
- Historical Center of the City of Arequipa
- Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca and Pampas de Jumana
- QhapaqÑan Andean Road System
- Sacred City of Caral-Supe
- Huascaran National Park
- Manu National Park
- Rio Abiseo National Park
The Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu covers more than 32,500 hectares of mountains and valleys which surround the archaeological complex of the Citadel. The Citadel of Machu Picchu was built around AD1460 by Inca Pachacuti and abandoned when the Spaniards conquered the Incas in 1532. The Citadel was built at an altitude of 2,400 meters or 7,874 feet above sea level. Because of its remoteness the Spaniards never found Machu Picchu so its structures were not destroyed. Since the Incas did not have a written language the real purpose for the building of Machu Picchu is not clear, it remains a mystery and is open to speculation.
Machu Picchu has about 200 buildings that are considered architectural wonders. These buildings were made of individually shaped pieces of carved gray granite stone that fitted perfectly together.
Machu Picchu is divided into two sectors, at the northern part was the urban sector and at the southern the agricultural sector. These sectors were constructed on a natural division due to a geological fault. Read more =>
Chan Chan was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. Chan Chan was the capital of the Chimú Civilization located in the north coast of Peru 300 miles (480 km) north of Lima in the city of Trujillo. The Chimú absorbed the early civilizations of Wari and Lambayeque and expanded becoming the richest civilization of its time. Its kingdom lasted from around 850 AD to 1470 until they were conquered by the Incas. Read more =>
Chavin de Huantar developed between 1,500 to 500BC in the highlands of the southeast of the Cordillera Blanca in the department of Ancash, 186 miles (300 km) north of Lima. Chavin is one of the earliest known pre-Columbian civilizations that developed in the Early Horizon. Chavin de Huantar was the economic, social and political center of the region. Chavin was designated UNESCO Heritage Site in 1985. The Chavin built this center as a place of worship that attracted people from far away regions unifying and consolidating its presence in the Central Andes. Read more=>
The City of Cusco is located at an altitude of 11,150 feet (3,400 meters) above sea level in the Cordillera Blanca of the Andes Mountains, 620 miles (1,000 km) south east of Lima.
The City of Cusco was the historical capital of the Inca Empire and was founded by Manco Capac around 1200 AD. To the Incas, Cusco was the center of the world; it was a religious, social, cultural and economic center of the empire. The Inca Empire or Tawantisuyu reached its height between the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1534 the Spaniards took over the city building churches, dwellings and their own institutions using Inca structures. Today it can be observed two distinctive cultures that have progressively assimilated into a multicultural society.
The most important complex in the City of Cusco was the religious center Coricancha or Temple of the Sun. The Spaniards built the Convent of Santo Domingo on its structure. The best efforts have been made to rescue what was left of the original Inca construction. Coricancha was dedicated to the most important Gods in Inca culture, Wiracocha, Inti and Quilla. Coricancha is the representation of the finest Inca masonry skills and the best in Inca architecture, similar use of masonry can be seen in Machu Picchu. Walls were built from large granite blocks, meticulously cut and fitted together without the use of mortar. Incas were familiar with anti seismic construction as most walls in Coricancha were built leaning inwards, door frames and windows were trapezoidal. These walls have survived numerous earthquakes. Read more =>
The Historic Center of Lima is known as the “Ciudad de los Reyes” or City of Kings. It was founded by Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro in 1535 because of its accessibility to the sea. Lima was the economic, social, cultural and political capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru. It was also the most important city in the Spanish South American colonies.
During the colonial period magnificent buildings were created in the Historic Center of Lima. The Plaza Mayor was the core of the City of Kings it is surrounded by the Cathedral of Lima, the Government Palace, the Archbishop’s Palace, the Municipal Palace and the Club de la Union.
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Arequipa is known as the “White City”or Ciudad Blanca for the white walls of many of its colonial buildings. The famous white walls are made of white ashlar or sillar, a volcanic stone that lies at the feet of many of its volcanoes such as Mount Misti, Mount Chanchani and Mount Pichu Pichu. Sillar can be carved easily and many buildings have elaborate decorations giving Arequipa a distinct character. The use of sillar is reflected in the integration of European and Amerindian cultures in the ornamented architecture in the historic center of the city, the most representative buildings are its religious monuments and casonas. The historic center of Arequipa was declared UNESCO Heritage Site in the year 2000.
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Huascaran National Park
The Huascaran National Park was included in the UNECO Heritage Site List in 1985. It is located in the Cordillera Blanca of the Andes Mountains and covers 340,000 hectares which includes 27 snowed capped mountains above 6,000 meters (19,690 feet) above sea level. It includes Nevado Huascaran which is Peru’s highest peak at 6,768 meters (22,205 feet), it was named after Sapa Inca Huascar, one of the rulers of the Inca Empire.
The park is home to many native species of animals such as the vicuna, puma, mountain lion, spectacled bear, Andean cat, Andean condor and the North Andean deer; many of them are in danger of extinction.
Caral or Caral-Supe is located in the Supe Valley 200 km (124 miles) north of Lima. The Sacred City of Caral is the earliest known civilization in the Americas, it dates to the Late Archaic period. Radiocarbon analysis performed by the Caral-Supe Special Archaeological Project (PEACS) dates its development between 3000 to 1800 B.C.
It is believed that this civilization started by the merging of small villages based on trade of agricultural and fishing products. Its importance rests on the success of techniques of domestication of cotton, beans, potatoes, chilli and squash. Success in agriculture was due to the development of water canals, reservoirs and terraces. They used guano, bird excrement, and anchovies as fertilizer.
Manu National Park
Manu National Park is located at the intersection of the Amazon rainforest and the Andean puna at an altitude that ranges from 150 meters to 4,200 meters above sea level. UNESCO recognized it as a Biosphere Reserve in 1977 and pronounced it a World Heritage Site in 1987.
The park protects over 2 million hectares of land that includes a wide topographical range with the highest biodiversity of any park in the world. Plant diversity ranges from 2,000 to 5,000 species. In term of fauna scientists estimate over 200 species of mammals, more than 800 species of birds, 68 species of reptiles, 77 species of amphibians, 1,300 species of butterflies among others groups.
Manu National Park is naturally protected by its remote location, there are no roads with access to the park.