Tiwanaku

Close to La Paz lies one of the most important historical ruins of the country: Tiwanaku. A culture predating the Inka and, probably, their forerunners, built some of their biggest temples just fifteen kilometers from lake Titicaca.. Or rather, directly on the border of lake titicaca which has since dramatically changed in size. The culture disappeared around 1200AD, before the Inkas or the Spanish arrived in the area.

It is believed that the Inkas descent partially from the Tiwanaku. At least they imitated their building techniques. And those are quite remarkable. Not only did they use cubes of perfect proportions, seemingly cut by lasers. They also used metal fortifications to link the different cubes to each other and make their buildings more durable.

Unfortunately they made their calculation without the Spaniards, who had heard that there were precious metals in the stones. So today one can see a deep hole where the center of the pyramid used to be.. (top left) No precious minerals were found.. But most of the stones found a re-use in the surrounding churches and the pyramid style temple is mostly no more. Luckily the temple fell in disuse before the Spanish arrived. By the time the Spanish arrived, the “underground” temple had been completely covered up with dust and this led to it being nicely preserved for us today. I found the hundreds of faces on the walls particularly interesting. Although, I do not fully buy the claim that there’s aliens, chinese people and all ethnicities represented.

After having seen the sky high (pyramid) temple and the underground (or lowered) temple, the one remaining was the ‘ground temple’. Which contains the most interesting artifacts. In particular the sun gate and the big statues. The carving on those reminded me of Central America. The figures are very intricate with many details. Something that seems to have completely disappeared in the Inka culture.


Unfortunately we had to take many things at face value since none of the artifacts can be found in their original position nowadays. People tried to move them, they started breaking and they wisely decided to leave them in the position they were currently at. So the puerta del sol, no longer greets the sun at equinox, but it has been split in two. Nor are the big speaking stones in their original position.

But there is still enough left to glance the grandeur of that place, back in the days.

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Tiwanaku also helped me better understand why Thor Heyerdahl (remember the guy from the Easter Islands saying the Inka’s had visited there) thought there might be a connection. The central statue and it’s posture certainly has a similarity with the giant heads on the Easter Island and the construction techniques with the clean cut stones is mirrored in one of the pedestals for the moai on the Easter Island.

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