Pachacamac was the main sanctuary of the central coast for more than a thousand years. Its temples were visited by crowds of pilgrims, as Pachacamac was an accurate oracle capable of predicting the future and controlling the movements of the earth.
People from all over the Andes also came to the sanctuary of Pachacamac in search of solutions to their problems or answers to their doubts.
The word Pachacamac means "soul of the earth, the one who animates the world." The ancient Peruvians believed that a single movement of your head would cause earthquakes. You couldn't look him directly in the eye, and even his priests entered the compound with their backs turned. The cult of Pachacamac was the center of all coastal religion.
The sanctuary is located in the Lurín Valley, which constitutes the territorial framework of its location and on whose banks a series of towns settled three thousand years ago, taking advantage of its waters. The first occupations date from the Archaic period (5000 BC); then, in the Formative period (1800 BC - 200 BC) Mina Perdida, Cardal and Manchay stand out; in the Late Formative (200 BC - 200 AD) various local styles are distinguished such as Tablada de Lurín and Villa El Salvador.
Based on the archaeological data provided by the investigations, we know that the occupation of the Pachacamac Archaeological Sanctuary began in the Late Formative, since in the pampas located in front of the monumental zone there is a cemetery corresponding to settlers who probably lived dedicated to the fishing, agriculture and exploitation of the hills. Their pottery, called the El Panel style, includes sculptural bottles in the shape of birds and felines. These ancient settlers also excelled in making copper artifacts.
The ruins of Pachacamac are further proof that the Peruvian coast was inhabited by different advanced civilizations during the pre-Hispanic period, such as the Lima culture (200 AD), then the Wari Empire and finally the arrival of the Incas in 1470 AD, led by by the 10th emperor, called Tupaq Inca Yupanqui.
During the pre-Hispanic period, Pachacamac was a ceremonial center that brought together many buildings built by different cultures, in this ceremonial place there were pyramidal temples, houses and frescoes, which decorated the adobe walls; Also in this place, there was a totem (physical representation of God Pachacamac).
In conclusion, we can say that Pachacamac was a ceremonial center, where it was believed that the God Pachacamac lived, who was the "creator of this world"; That is why the pilgrimage to this temple was very constant and numerous, especially by the coastal populations of ancient Peru.
The term "Pachacamac" derives from the Quechua language: "Pacha" means earth, world, universe, space and time; The word "Camac" means creator, doer and the one who gives origin.
When the Incas consolidated their conquest of the coastal cultures of Peru at the end of the 15th century, they did not try to replace the god Pachacamac nor did they try to destroy the temple of Pachacamac; but rather they incorporated the God Pachacamac into the Inca religion and embellished this temple, making it even more popular in the Inca period.
Pre-Hispanic societies believed that Pachacamac had many connotations: Son of the God of the Sun, God of Fire, Creator of the Earth, Creator of the Universe, Creator of all things in this World, etc; It was also believed that he had powers to rejuvenate, bring well-being, improve the practice of agriculture, cure diseases, etc.
Pachacamac was also linked to various elements of nature, such as water, fire, and even earthquakes; He would be the cause of the tremors, but also the protector of it; as long as he was revered and pleased with many offerings.
One of the most famous legends in Pachacamac tells that once upon a time there was a beautiful and vain woman called "Cavillaca" and all the gods wanted her to be her wife, but none achieved her purpose.
"Cuniraya Wiracocha", was a wise man who found a way to transform himself into a bird, to conquer the maiden, he perched on a tree and made a fruit fall in front of the woman, which she ate and thus became pregnant with it. sage.
After nine months of pregnancy, Cavillaca had a very beautiful daughter, since it was not known who her father was, a meeting was held to find out who her father was, but no one said anything. Cuniraya Wiracocha, was not invited at the table of honor, but rather was sitting in a corner with very ragged clothes, waiting for some food to fall to take it to his mouth.
The maiden said to her daughter:
"Go and recognize your father who is here."
The girl, crawling, went to the side of Cuniraya Wiracocha—the ragged man, when her mother saw this, took her daughter and, disgusted by her, began to run to throw herself into the sea.
Cuniraya went after her with a suit full of gold, he wanted to tell her that he dressed in rags, because he wanted to take away her vanity, but she did not turn around, because she was disgusted by what she had seen and did not want to see Cuniraya Wiracocha again, until she He reached the sea and threw himself with his daughter, thus transforming himself into a stone, for his vanity.
If you are in Pachacamac, you can see a small rocky island, the largest rock represents Cavillaca and the small rock represents her daughter.
The first settlers of Pachacamac, began around the year 200 AD by the Lima Culture, who built the first temples in the religious sector, the construction techniques and the materials used were very simple; that is why “adobitos” (thin and rectangular adobes, very basic) were used mainly; This fact is also due to the fact that the Lima culture had no technological influence from other civilizations.
By the year 650 AD, the Wari culture took possession of this ceremonial center and all the territory that belonged to the Lima culture; During the Wari occupation, the Pachacamac temple began to gain more size due to the new buildings that the Waris built, for example the "Pachacamac Temple", also known as the "Painted Temple".
According to the analysis of the excavations, it is concluded that the Waris defeated the Lima culture militarily; however, the Waris maintain local traditions and the art of the Lima culture, as proof of this it can be seen that Wari ceramics have notable characteristics of the Lima culture from the year 650 AD.
In 1200 AD, the Ichma culture begins to expand and finally occupies the city and the ceremonial center of Pachacamac, this fact is not due to the fact that the Ichma have defeated the Waris; but rather The Incas defeated the Waris in the Andes, this event favored the expansion of the Ichma culture.
During the occupation of Ichma, Pachacamac increased its magnificence, for example: the “Painted Temple” was fortified and 15 main temples, stepped pyramids with ramps, storage facilities, and the number of patios for ceremonial activities were also increased.
After the defeat of the Waris in the Andes, the Incas went to the Peruvian coast to defeat various pre-Inca cultures such as the Chimu, the Chincha and the Ichma between the years 1450 AD and 1470 AD; this military expedition was led by the Inca Tupaq Yupanqui, the tenth emperor.
Like the Waris and the Ichma, the Inca rulers allowed Pachacamac to coexist with their God of the Sun and Wiracocha (the God who created everything for the Incas).
The Inca architects increased the number of buildings even more, for example: they built the Temple of the Sun and the famous "AcllaWasi" or House of the chosen women (generally very young women), in these enclosures (only for women), were the "Mamaconas" who were the instructors to teach the young women different skills in textiles, ceramics and cooking.
Finally, at the end of the 19th century, some archaeologists began excavations in Pachacamac and found many buildings of great importance and burial sites, which had been destroyed in the colonial period.
For decades, most archaeologists thought that the pyramids in the second section were religious centers, housing delegations from distant communities, who came on pilgrimage to worship and pay homage to the God Pachacamac.
However, according to archaeologist Peter Eekhout, who studied and excavated the archaeological site of Pachacamac with his team, they discovered that the structures lacked the characteristics of religious centers of the time and that is why Peter and his team came to the conclusion that The Pyramids Sector of the Second Section, were used as palaces by the pre-Hispanic rulers of Pachacamac and not as ceremonial centers.
This site museum was founded in 1965, it is one of the first site museums in Peru, this museum you can see artifacts such as ceramics, textiles, wooden idols known as "Pachacamac", etc.
Most of these archaeological remains were found during excavations in the 19th and 20th centuries.
If you are in Lima and do not have a car, you can go to Avenida Javier Prado and/or Evitamiento to board the “Custer” (public transport vehicles) that announce on their route signs: “Lurín”. These vehicles will literally take you to the front door of the Pachacamac Site Museum.
The price of the tickets can range from 2 to 4 nuevos soles, depending on where this transport unit boards and if it is a holiday or not. Rates are variable as you will realize.
There is also the possibility, if you have the means, of taking a full day tour by hiring a specialized travel agency. There are many very good and formal ones with offices in Miraflores and in the Historic Center of Lima, the emblematic places where you can locate these types of companies dedicated to tourism.
However, if you decide to go on your own, you can take the considerations described above. It is also recommended that you go in a group and thus you can share the cost to enter the Museum of the Ruins of Pachacamac and hire the guide service.
The latter is very important for the specialized guide to guide you to what you are seeing and its historical importance.
Just reading the informative signs is not enough and it is much better to do the excursion with a specialized guide.
Many are the routes that take you to Machu Picchu, but none is like the Inca Trail Tours, the most famous pedestrian path in the Americas. After flying from the capital of Perú, Lima, you will arrive in Cusco to walk for four days along a path through forests and dense fog, millenary stone steps and discovering the ruins of ancient fortifications and Inca cities, and all the time enjoying majestic views.