The ruins of the fortress at Pisac are among the most interesting in Peru. Today, historians and archaeologists believe that Pisac was a compound that served mainly as a line of defense against the Anti Indians, who held lands to the east of Cusco. It was also a place of worshop and an important agricultural site.
The Pisac complex is made up of several different areas. Outside of the walled complex is Qanchisracay, a small compound of rough stone buildings. This area probably served as a military garrison and may have housed local villagers in case of attack. There are also some ruins of aqueducts. The area might have been home to farmers who worked the lower terraces.
From Qanchisracay, the trail heads up the hill to a crossroads of sorts, known as Antachaka. There are four baths at the crossroads, with water brought in by duct. To the west, you'll see the cemetery known as Tankanamarka, an important pre-conquest site that has been largely looted by grave robbers.
According to Inca belief, the dead could carry their possessions with them into the next life. For that reason, there were often treasures left in grave sites, a fact that the conquering Spanish soon realized and exploited. By some estimates, there may have been as many as 10,000 graves at the site at one time. The looters took everything and left only holes.
Continuing the hike, you'll pass through the wall through Amarupunku, the Door of the Serpent, and into Upper Pisac. The Incas' amazing skills with stonework are on display here. Note how they cut this path through the rock-and remember that they did not have iron tools or explosives to help them tunnel.
Upper Pisac, with most of the ceremonial and religious structures in the complex, is the most important and impressive section of the ruins. The stonework is incredible-and comparable with Qoricancha in Cusco. There are several temples in Upper Pisac; unfortunately, it is not known today which temples corresponded to which deity.
One exception is the impressive Temple of the Sun, an oval building built directly into the rock. From the top of the building, Inca astronomers could track the movements of the sun, moon, and stars. There is also an altar that may have been used to sacrifice animals for purposes of divination. Sadly, some of the decorative stonework on the temple of the Sun was recently chipped off by thieves.
There are also a series of restored baths in Upper Pisac. The last area of the Pisac ruins is the residential area known as P'isaca, from which the ruin complex gets its name. It is a series of terraces and stone buildings. Some archeaologists believe that these were homes for the elite. From here, there is a trail that you can take back to the town of Pisac.
Most visitors to the ruins take a taxi from Pisac (around $10 one-way). You can hike it, but it is very steep and at high altitude; you need to be in great shape and accustomed to altitude.
Admission is included in the Cusco Tourist Ticket.
Open Hours from:7 a.m.
Open Hours to:3 p.m.
Travel Skills: intermediate/somewhat difficult.
If you're in town on a Sunday, be sure to check out the market at the town of Pisac before you leave.