The red fortress of Puca Pucara - Cusco
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The red fortress of Puca Pucara - Cusco

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The red fortress of Puca Pucara - Cusco

This place is characterized by the great walls, terraces and stairways that it has, also during the time of the Incas it was part of the defensive complex of Cusco.


Puca Pucara or Pukapukara, means ‘red fortress’, due to the color of the earth that is abundant in this area, to this is added something incredible, the limestone rocks when the afternoon arrives they acquire a reddish hue due to the rays of twilight.



Puca pucara, is located 7 kilometers from the city of Cusco, at an altitude of 3,850 m.a.s.l.



Why Puca Pucara is important?

It is important because, according to some chroniclers in the past, when the Inca was about to visit the baths located in Tambomachay, his army remained in Puca Pucara, which functioned as a barracks and tambo. Likewise, it is believed that there was a chincana (tunnel) which functioned as a communication route between Tambomachay and Puca Pucará.


Etymology of Puca Pucara

Puca pucara, as can be seen, are words of Quechua origin, the first puca means red and the second pucara describes a fort or military fortress, hence it is called the red fortress.


The current name that it has probably was given to it already in modern times due to the characteristics described above and probably to its use as such (Fortress) at some point in history that remained in the collective memory, however, we must clarify that its original name was lost in time.



Puca pucara, also known as the red fortress, thanks to the color it takes in the twilight evenings, is a military construction of Inca origin, built on a raised platform, composed of high terraces or superimposed platforms, passages and stairways that interconnect the entire place.


Like many important places, this site must have had several purposes, being an administrative center as well as a military fort that fulfilled religious and even astronomical functions.


The existence of a "Chinchana" or cave in Puca Pucara give rise to stories that say that it could be secretly connected with Tambomachay, since this last place is believed to be a resting center for the Inca, it would be his personal guard and entourage at his service. what I would expect in the place.


Puka Pukara



Obeying patterns widely developed by the Incas, the constructions of Puca pucara before modifying the surface on which they were built, adapted to the landscape by building three irregular parallel platforms that we describe below.


First Wall:

This first wall designed in such a way that it adapts to the rocks on which it was raised. In the northern part of this you can find 6 rooms whose irregular shapes respond in the same way to the adaptation that was given to the building on the natural terrain.


Second Wall:

This second wall is made up of platforms in a south-east direction. Outside of them it is possible to find 3 rooms with a trapezoidal base.


Third wall:

This third wall is in the upper part, there is no longer any trace of the structures that could have been built in this place.


Altitude of Puca Pucara

The altitude of Puca Pucara is 3,680 meters.


Climate in Puca Pucara

The climate of Puca Pucara, like Cusco, has two well-defined seasons, such as the rainy season and the dry season.


The rainy season covers the months of November to March, while the dry season covers the months from April to October approximately.


Which is the best season to visit Puca Pucara?

In order to travel to a place and enjoy the landscape, it is necessary to know when is the best season, this time the best season to get to know Puca Pucara in Cusco, is during the dry season between the months from April to October.


It is recommended this season because the presence of rain is minimal, thus having a clear blue sky during the day and it is necessary to have a hat and sunscreen to avoid damage to the skin, caused by the sun's rays.


While at night, it is recommended to wear warm clothing, because Cusco nights are cold. However, they do not take away the magic of its streets, people and history.


How to get to Puca Pucara?

Getting to Puca Pucara is not complicated, since there are various forms of mobilization, it can be walking or through public transport or through a mobile belonging to a tourist agency.


In the case of reaching Puca Pucara by walking from the Main Square in Cusco, it will take you approximately 45 minutes, while if you use the public service from Av, Cultura, it will take you approximately 30 minutes to arrive and if you have the service of a City Tour, as it will take you approximately 20 minutes.


Puca Pucara


Cost and schedule to visit Puca Pucara:

The cost of entry to Puca Pucara, is included in the Tourist Ticket, regarding the schedules, it can be visited from Monday to Sunday from 7:00 in the morning until 06:00 at night.


What to bring?

  • Tourist ticket of Cusco (not included in the price)
  • Sun hat
  • Sunscreen (Minimum factor 35 is recommended)
  • Waterproof jacket / rain poncho
  • Water
  • Camera and video camera.

Frequently asked questions about Puca Pucara


1. Is it dangerous to visit Puca Pucara?

No. The archaeological site is totally safe. It has wide paths and well-defined stairways. Altitude sickness can cause some discomfort to visitors, so it is recommended to drink plenty of water.


2. What should I bring to the trip?

It is recommended to bring: rain poncho, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, a cap (or hat), comfortable clothing, hiking shoes, snacks, rehydrating water, extra cash and identity documents.


3. Can I get tour guides at the door of the archaeological site?

Yes. At the entrance door of Puca Pucara you can get tour guide service. Although most visitors choose to go with the City Tour, which already includes the tour guide service.


4. Is there public transport to get there?

You can go to Puca Pucara by public transport from the stop of ‘Rosaspata’ in the city of Cusco. The cost of the trip is only 1 Peruvian sol. You can go in the service called 'Señor del Huerto'.


5. What is the weather like?

The climate in Puca Pucara is temperate and cold, with temperatures that vary from 22ºC. up to 3ºC. (at night). Most visitors visit in the afternoon, when the temperature is 15ºC.


6. When should I go?

According to experts, the visit is best during the dry season (from April to October). On those days the rains are not frequent and the day is sunnier. Thus, the tourist will be able to make his journey without inconvenience.


7. What other nearby places to visit?

Tambomachay is located just a few steps from Puca Pucara, making it the first option for a nearby visit. Other options are to visit Qenqo and the fortress of Sacsayhuaman. The entrance to all these places is included in the ‘Cusco Tourist Ticket’.




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