Fortified City of Kuelap

This is a pre-Inca building. It is the largest in the place, it is rectangular in shape and its function as a barn has been proposed, a building that served during pre-Inca times for ceremonial purposes indoors, but also as a lodging for travelers or guests.

It was built by the Chachapoya culture, between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries. It usually leaves its visitors surprised.

It is located at the top of Cerro la Barreta, on the left bank of the Utcubamba River, at about 3,000 masl (9,842f) in the ecological zone of the Humid Forest, typical of the Northeastern Amazonians Andes of Peru. Discovered in 1843, Kuelap is currently considered the most important and representative Monumental Archaeological Zone of a cultural tradition known as “Chachapoya”, and it was occupied between the years 500 and 1570 of our era.

It is made up of a funerary sector established on the west side of the mountain, in inaccessible places. Towards the south of the Fortified Citadel, the remains of a wall, the access and circular structures of an unfinished project known as La Malca can be seen. Towards the east side, the mountain has a much gentler slope and is where remains of circular structures associated with cultivated fields are located, including retaining walls of large platforms. The most important sectors are those of Pampa Linda, El Imperio, San Jose, El Lirio and Las Americas.

Within the Archaeological Complex of Kuelap a monumental complex stands out, called “The Fortress” or “Fortified Citadel of Kuelap”, built entirely of stone. It is made up of a large walled enclosure containing more than 420 stone structures inside. The walled enclosure, which houses an area of almost 7 hectares, has an area of 584 meters long and a maximum width of 110 meters. The wall, which at some points reaches up to 20 meters high, form two large terraces, which divide the site into a high sector and a low sector. The Alto Sector or Pueblo Alto,

located to the northwest, contains 80 circular and 3 rectangular structures, as well as 2 entrances on the eastern side of the wall.

The Low Sector or Low Town, contains 335 circular and 2 rectangular structures, as well as two large entrances. This sector contains the only 6 buildings decorated with friezes of geometric designs.

The outer wall is, in reality, the outer face of a great monumental platform that contains a colossal filling of stones joined with clay mortar, which served as the basis for the construction of the Upper and Lower sectors of the fortress. In its construction, homogeneous limestone blocks were used, characterized by a regular masonry, placed in horizontal courses, in order to level the uneven terrain.

How to get to Kuélap from the city of Chachapoyas.

Take a colectivo or bus from the land terminal of the city of Chachapoyas to Nuevo Tingo (departures every hour, route 1h-1h30). From here take the cable car to the citadel.