The Archaeological Complex of Raqchi
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The Archaeological Complex of Raqchi

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The Archaeological Complex of Raqchi

The Temple of Wiracocha is the most famous construction of the archaeological site of Raqchi in Cusco. Its name is related to the god Huiracocha, creator of the world according to many ancient cultures of the coast and mountains of Peru. It is a temple over 14 meters high, the tallest Inca structure discovered to date. To visit this famous place you must travel south of Cusco. The entrance to Raqchi has a cost of 10 Peruvian soles.


The archaeological complex of Raqchi

  • The archaeological complex of Raqchi is an enclosure where the Incas erected emblematic constructions of immense dimensions.
  • It is also known as the Temple of Wiracocha because this is its most emblematic construction.
  • It is located in the district of San Pedro, province of Canchis, 119 kilometers from the city of Cusco.
  • According to various chroniclers, the bold walls of Raqchi were made of stone and adobe during the periods of government of the Incas Viracocha, Pachacutec and Túpac Yupanqui in the fifteenth century.
  • However, ceramic remains belonging to pre-Inca cultures such as Marcavalle, Pucará and Wari were recently found.
  • The place grows every year in tourism. The specialists divided the site into 5 sectors: the Temple of Wiracocha, the Greater Inca Temple, the warehouses, the statue, the enclosures and the water sources.

The temple of Wiracocha

  • This unique temple of its kind stands out for presenting immense stone and adobe walls up to 14 meters high.
  • It is located on an esplanade and has two naves with windows and doors built on a base of andesite stone.
  • The structure that survived the destruction caused by the Spanish invasion had a gabled roof supported by columns of up to 25 meters at its highest point.
  • For many historians, the large size of its constructions must have made this temple the one with the greatest proportionality in the Inca Empire. The greatness of this construction earned it the name of 'Temple of Wiracocha'.

The god Viracocha

  • The cult of the god Wiracocha is long before the Incas. The investigations account for the worship of him from the Caral culture (3 thousand BC - 1,800 BC), more than 4 thousand years before the appearance of the Incas.
  • The god Wiracocha was also present in the cultures of ancient Peru: Chavín (1,200 BC – 400 BC), Paracas (700 BC – 200 AD), Tiahuanaco (1,500 BC – 1,187 AD), Wari (100 AD – 1,200 AD) and more .
  • Wiracocha is also called as the 'God of the staffs' as he is represented with rods in both hands. He is also often depicted with sunbeams on his face, raindrops like tears, and a feline face.
  • For most cultures, Wiracocha is credited with the creation of the world, the sun, the moon, the stars and the entire universe. For the Incas he was also the creator god. However, the god most worshiped by them was the sun or inti.
  • Due to the worship of this god, the Inca Hatun Tópac was called Huiracocha. The chronicler Garcilaso de la Vega tells that the Inca dreamed that the god Wiracocha gave him advice for his government. That is why it was this Inca who ordered the construction of the temple of Raqchi.

Other constructions in Raqchi

In total, Raqchi is made up of an area of ​​approximately one thousand hectares. In the surroundings of the main buildings of the enclosure, different constructions were found, such as aqueducts and even underground tombs. The Wiracocha temple is not the only important building in the area. Below are the sectors that stand out in Raqchi.

  • The Greater Inca Temple – A construction with similar characteristics to the Temple of Wiracocha. Its walls have similar proportions to the main temple. The base is made of finely carved stone and finished with adobe. Of the eleven cylindrical columns that supported the roof, only one survives. Of the walls only the excavated foundations are visible.
  • The warehouses – The warehouses or colcas were deposits of food products such as corn, quinoa, potatoes and chuño. It is estimated that in Raqchi there are an average of 200, which were circular in shape and arranged along the axis of the main temple.
  • The statue – During the excavations of a Spanish scientific mission in 1981, a stone representation and its body were found. The scientists maintained that it was a statue of Wiracocha. Currently, the face is in the Museum of America in Madrid. The body, in the Inca Museum of Cusco.
  • The enclosures – There are a total of 22 buildings whose finely finished walls have abundant trapezoidal niches. These types of dwellings or barracks are displayed next to some esplanades or patios proportional to the buildings.
  • The water sources – It is an esplanade located to the east of the main temple and from whose walls spring water gushes. There is the so-called 'Baños del Inca', which stands out for its finely carved stone.

The Inca trail of Raqchi

Raqchi was part of the ancient road network that connected the corners of Tahuantinsuyo, known as the Inca Trail or qhapac ñan.

Due to its strategic location, Raqchi connected with points of importance such as Tiahuanaco in Bolivia to Tucumán in Argentina.

To feed the messengers (chasquis) who traveled great distances to keep the Empire connected, so many warehouses or colcas were built.

In addition, Raqchi must have been a resting place for these walkers. Currently, a large part of these roads have disappeared due to the proliferation of houses and modern constructions. It is believed that on part of these ancient Inca roads the Spanish built churches in order to extirpate the culture and beliefs of the Incas.


Raqchi: tours and prices


How to visit Raqchi with a tour?

There are not many tours that offer a visit to the archaeological site of Raqchi. The few tours offered include other tourist sites in the South Valley Cusco. Reservations can be made online or in the Historic Center of Cusco:

  • 1-day tour to Raqchi –The 1-day tour to Raqchi is the most common way to visit the Temple of Huiracocha. They generally include transportation (round trip), lunch, tour guide and admission to this and other tourist sites (Piquillacta, Andahuaylillas).
  • Tour along the Cusco – Puno route – This 1-day private bus service takes tourists to some tourist attractions in the South Valley. In addition to Raqchi, we visit the Colonial Temple of Andahuaylillas and the Pukara Museum, in the Puno region.
  • Experiential tourism in Raqchi – Another way to visit Raqchi is through the experiential tourism tour of 2 days and 1 night. This service includes transportation, food, lodging in a native family and admission to the archaeological site of Raqchi.

How much?

The cost of the 1-day tours to Raqchi and other attractions of the South Valley Cusco cost around 80 U$D per person.

  • The cost of the bus tour along the Cusco – Puno route has an approximate cost of 65 U$D per tourist.
  • The cost of the experiential tourism tour in Raqchi has a price of 70 U$D for each person.

How to visit Raqchi on your own?

To visit Raqchi on your own, you should only take the buses (Cusco – Urcos, or Cusco – Sicuani). Once in Raqchi, you must buy the entrance ticket directly. The bus station on Huayruropata Avenue (Cusco) is where the cars depart from.


How much?

The entrance ticket to Raqchi costs 10 soles (3 U$D) per person. The only additional costs are transportation, food and some extra expenses.


Raqchi: all about the archaeological site


When is the best time to go to Raqchi?

The best time to visit Raqchi is during the dry season (April to October). During those months, the days are sunnier and there is less chance of rain.


How to hire a guide in Raqchi?

Do you want to visit Raqchi on your own with a specialist on the Incas? In the same archaeological site you can hire the services of a tour guide. Tours to Raqchi include this service.


What is the schedule in Raqchi?

Raqchi is open to the public Monday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.


Tips for traveling to Raqchi

  • Raqchi is one of the best attractions in the South Valley of Cusco where the Inca archaeological centers of Tipón and Piquillacta are also located. Dare to discover the mysteries of these incredible places.
  • Raqchi is one of the places where customs and traditions are still preserved hundreds of years ago. Dare to interact with the population or, why not, do experiential tourism there.
  • During the visit to Raqchi, be sure to bring sunscreen, a hat, water in a canteen, a camera, and a poncho in case of rain.
  • If you plan to visit Raqchi in June, remember that the 'Raqchi Festival' is celebrated on the third Sunday of that month, a festivity with dances, food and abundant drink.

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