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· Information guide about archaeological ruins of Tiwanaku ·

Tiwanaku, Bolivia

General Information on Tiwanaku

Anciently known Taypikala that in aymara language it means Stone of the Center or Capital of a group of Peoples.

The Tiwanaku culture as to chronology refers, would be placed between 1.500 B.C in its beginnings and 1.200 A.C its extintion. The Tiwanakota culture shows three periods in the evolution of the culture, which are: Village, Urban and Imperial or Expansive.
According the air photographs available, it is determined that Tiwanaku city reached a length of 2,8 kilometers and a maximun width of 1,6 kilometers. This planimetry determined an area of 420 hectaires.


Tiwanaku is 71 kilometers away from La Paz city. The trip by paving highway takes approximately one hour and a half.


The climate is generally pleasant, the days are sunny and approximately at 17:00 the wind begins to blow, preparing one to wait for a cold night.


Tiwanaku is found at an altitude of 3.845 meters above sea level

Important Festivity

On September 21st., one of the most important religious manifestations is carried out which is the Spring Equinoccio. Many people go to Tiwanaku to see the first sun shine that goes through the main gate of the temple of Kalasasaya. This festivity is accompanied with a folkloric commencement dance, a festivity that ends up with "Balseada", an activity that joins and invites all participating dancers and musicians to cross Titicaca Lake on totora rafts dancing to the tune of morenadas, caporales, waca-wacas, enlivened by the musical bands, tarqueadas and sicuris.
Transmitting this typical fiesta spirit to the inhabitants of the locality, national and foreign tourists, who participates in the dance, games and the typical food of the region.

Attractive populations on the route to Tiwanaku:
· Laja
A historic locality, since it was here that on October 20th., 1.548 La Paz city was founded by Don Alonso de Mendoza.
Laja is located 36 kilometers away from La Paz. Its major attraction is the Rennaissance style church, built in the XVI century, in 1.545 and it was remodeled in 1.680. The route going to Laja is paved highway, and the beautiful plateau landscape can besides be watched. A route-charging booth that is a replica, with a modern vision, of the church of the place.
· Tambillo
ItŽs a very picturesque population, since from its highest hill one can appreciate the most spectacular panoramic view of the plateau, being able, at the time, to contemplate the imposing Titicaca Lake and the Majestic Royal Mountrange.
· Tiwanaku
The town rises on the traces of Tiwanaku original city. A quiet population with houses that have been built using the stones of the original ruins. Its inhabitants are mixture of the natives of the place, skilled crafters on ceramics, with people coming from the city that settled down here many years ago and stayed permanently. On the street next to the Main Square, al only 10 meters and in the patio of a house, there is an interesting monolyths of about 3 meters tall.
The Catholic temple of Tiwanacu was built in 1.612 totally made on stone masonry of sculpted stone, taken from the traces of the precolombian buildings. The temple has harmonious architectonic lines and on both sides of the entrance gate two monolyths of medium height adorn its facade.
In the surroundings of Tiwanacu, we can find some cropping fields and native communities.

A description of temples and palaces of the ruins of Tiwanaku.


During the process of excavation many of the temples and palaces were found that we now know. The Kantataita temple is supposed to be a building of four bodies oriented each to a cardinal point. There is a thresh hold with a frieze that look like lying warriors. Here is the so called "maquette stone" which is architecturally sculpted in a single stone block, showing a building similar to the Kalasasaya. Several blocks of andesite can also be seen the Andean Cross sculpted in low relief.


Called also the Artificial Center, it is a runged pyramid on seven superposes embankments, which functioned as a defense fort. It dates back to the Urban period, but because each one of the balconies present differences in their technique of cosntruction, it is supposed that the work is oriented towards the four cardinal points. This pyramid was finished in hundreds of years.


It is a building of two meters of depth, slightly square, limited by four walls of contention and 45 visible sustaining pillars. In the inside the walls are adorned by 175 built in and worked on lime stone and tuff ball heads.
At the foot of the templet, a system of channels that can provide a perfect drainage are to be found. In the inside the biggest anthropomorphous stele was found, known as Pachamama or Bennett Monolyth, after the name of the discoverer. Inside the templet one can see the monolyth Barbado or Kontiki. The templet belongs to the beginning of the urban period.


In the Aymara language it means "Standing Stones", it was a solar temple for its dimensions based on the sun movements. It is an embanked building, built of red sand stone and andesite, that, as a main access has a rung of seven steps oriented to the east as an invitation for the sunbeams to enter the sacred enclosure. The interior of the patio was tiled, it had a system of draining rainwater or draining channels as throatings around the building. In its interior there are remains of 14 rooms located on both sides of the patio, at the center, monolyths Ponce, an anthopomorphous astatue and El Fraile can be seen, which are monolyths engraved with many iconographic elements.
The most famous piece of the temple is the Puerta del Sol, (Sun Gate) sculpted in a single andesite stone block of a three meters of height and four meters of width with an approximate weight of 10 tons. The rear face presents a higher bulging frieze and another lower that fits in threshold of the gate. On both sides, small vaulted niches are to be found which probably held metallic doors. The front face presents a band of sculpting with low reliefs showing the figures of 48 winged men and men who are kneeling before the main figure El Hombre Sol (the Sun Man) and the Trompeteros located in the lower part of the low reliefs that in a precise way mark the sun movements.
Several researchers claim that the frieze could be a perfect sun calendar to mark agricultural events. To the north of the temple, two great stones with two acoustic ports, similar to the human ear for their shape. There is also another important gate called the Moon Gate Puerta de la Luna.


It is known as the Palace of the Sarcophagues and Putuputuni that means where there are ports. With a rectangular foundation on its inner walls funeral chambers which have an access to the central patio are found. From Putuni, stones of the facade and the entrance gate are kept. Both Putuni and Kerikala (close building), have stone work at the lower part and the walls are made of adobe.


It means Gate of the Puma. It is one kilometer away from Akapana and it constitutes the most important one of the temples. It is a pyramid, built on three platforms sustained by continuous walls of finely polished stones. It was raised at the end of the Classical period for the evolution in its construction techniques. Its foundation is square and at the higher part of the building, a small semi under ground templet with draining channels is found.
It retains the remains of a structure constituted by four rooms linked with bronze clamps of which the traces still remain, each one with sculpted andesite gates. The stones in this place are remarkable for their dimensions and the harmonious design of its cuttings and ports.


In this museum countless pieces belonging to all periods of the Tiwanakota culture are exhibited, as well as other cultures of similar epochs. Inside one can appreciate beautiful pieces of ceramics, lythic, metallic, bony and human bone remains found in many excavations.

Text: Courtesy Wiracocha Hostal Restaurant

By: Tony Suárez
Puerta del Sol
By: Tony Suárez
Puerta del Sol
By: Tony Suárez
Puerta del Sol
By: Tony Suárez
Puerta del Sol
By: Tony Suárez
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