Although only the 30% of the Complex (totaling approximately 1.800 hectares) has been uncovered and studied, investigations suggest Choquequirao was a religious site and an important commercial and cultural enclave between the Cusco mountains and the Amazon jungle.
Choquequirao has an impressive terraces system, these served a double purpose: contention and agricultural use. This explains why terraces stand on both sides of the ridge, to the east and west of the central plaza.
Choquequirao was built in accordance with the Inca duality concept of life; its urban distribution is thus divided in a high sector or “hanan” and a low sector or “hurin”.
Water is symbolically praised by architecture; the vital element flows from the Apus (Mountain Gods) into the site via a stone canal that connects hanan and hurin sectors as a vertebral column, organizing the building distribution.
Today one can visit some of the twelve sectors that have been restored and are opened to the public. Other parts within a 6,2 mile radius of Choquequirao remain uncovered, under the dense forest.
Its many constructions, including temples, storerooms, meeting grounds, homes, squares, fountains and stairs, fit into ground topography and the surrounding environment naturally: walls align with mountain profiles, windows frame mountain tops. In sum, Choquequirao is full of enchanting details.
Within the west side of the site, 23 white stone mosaics representing a group of traveling llamas decorate the terraced walls. The “Llamas of the Sun” is the only example of this type of ornamental design known in the Inca world. Recent studies suggest a connection with an enemy cultural group conquered by the Incas on XV century. The fierce Chachapoya, people of the northern cloud forests, are said to be the builders of this unique work of art.
The “Ushnu” or ceremonial platform stands as the uttermost symbol of the human aspiration to connect with Nature. On the ushnu the traveler gazes down the canyon, water flowing north, condors flying high in the bluest of skies only below the towering snowy peaks.
Choquequirao is pure magic. Touch its stones, contact Nature.