Best Inca Ruins in Peru (Aside from Machu Picchu)

A nation known as heart of the Inca empire, Peru is the birth child of an intricate and indigenous culture whose roots go back as early as 2500 BC. The emergence and decline of Peruvian civilizations, the Chavin and the Sechin, gave rise to distinctive regional cultures, Saliner and Paracas, then later on, the Nazca.

All of these early Peruvian civilizations were incomparable to the majestic pre-Columbian civilization of the Inca. The Incas, undoubtedly, built an empire that made the capital, Qosqo, the richest city in all of the Americas.

Had it not for the occurrence of one of the greatest tragedies of the world where the Inca Empire was subjugated by Spanish conquistadores, a multitude of their astonishing architectural masterpieces could still be preserved up to this date.

The only remaining icon of the Inca Empire’s prolific structural design is the astounding ceremonial center of Machu Picchu. Declared as a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, it is indeed a place of marvel.

However, Peru is more than Machu Picchu. Here are five more amazing wonders of the Inca Empire that you should definitely check out when you’re in Peru.


Choquequirao (photo above) means “Cradle of Gold.” Located in South Peru, it has the same architectural structure as Machu Picchu, earning it the title “The Sacred Sister of Machu Picchu.”

There’s an abundance of complex agricultural terraces and irrigation systems in Choquequirao that are still functional up to present. During the siege of Cusco by the Spanish, this remote Incan city became the refuge of an Incan ruler because of its strategic location. The site is on the Salcantay Mountain Range, bounded by snow-peaked mountains and slopes.

Choquequirao is less accessible and said to be the least-heard-of structural ruins in Peru. While there are plans to build a cable car to it in the future, at present, going there can be arduous.

Kuelap ruins. ©José Porras


Kuelap was a citadel built by the Chachapoyas, known as the “Warriors of the Cloud.” It has been called the Machu Picchu of Northern Peru and the largest stone structure of South America because of its massive stone walls surrounding over four hundred buildings.

A lot older than the Inca Empire, Kuelap is situated in a mountain higher than Machu Picchu. It offers jaw-dropping scenery of pre-Incan great constructions and well-structured landscapes.

The terraces at Ollantaytambo ©Aleah Taboclaon


Ollantaytambo is another remnant of the archaeological brilliance of the Incan empire. This was once the royal estate of an Incan Emperor who built towns and ceremonial conventions. Nowadays, Ollantaytambo is one of the most visited tourist spots in the Cusco region. Visitors can go hiking, biking, or just strolling around there.

Those who are taking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu start the 4-day trek at Ollantaytambo.

Pisac in the Sacred Valley. ©McKay Savage


A Peruvian village known for its Incan ruins, Pisac lies at the top of the hill at the entrance to the Sacred Valley. The slope below the ruins is terraced from top to bottom. Called andenes in Quechua, the purpose of the terraces is agricultural.

Moray. ©McKay Savage


Moray is an important archaeological site in Maras, Peru. It is the name of the agricultural research laboratory of the Incans that produced great harvest during their time. The Incans built three large natural depressions with terraced concentric circles that have a bottom that never floods no matter how incessant the rain is. It is indeed another proof of the ancient Incans’ craftsmanship.

Peru is rich in such archaeological sites like the ones listed here. Machu Picchu is a must-visit, yes, but if you have more time to spend in the country, there are many more places to visit that are as beautiful and as interesting.

About Author

Aleah Taboclaon is a solo traveler and freelance editor and writer. She's backpacking solo in South America for two years. Read her solo travel tales and tips in and follow her trips on Instagram (aleahphils).


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