This area had long been settled by the Cañari indigenous people, who called it Hatun Cañar. As the Inca Empire expanded into southern Ecuador, the Inca Túpac Yupanqui encountered the Cañari "Hatun Cañar" tribe. He had difficulties in conquering them. He used different political strategies, marrying the Cañari princess and improving the Cañari city of Guapondelig, calling it Tumebamba or Pumapungo (nowadays Cuenca).

 Photo Archaeological Complex of Ingapirca in the Province of Cañar Ecuador

The Inca and Cañari decided to settle their differences and live together peacefully. The astronomical observatory was built under Inca Huayna Capac. The Inca renamed the city as Ingapirca and kept most of their distinctive customs separately, as the Cañari did theirs. Although the Inca were more numerous, they did not demand that the Cañari give up their autonomy.

The castle complex is of Cañari-Inca origin. Its purpose is uncertain. The complex was used as a fortress and storehouse from which to resupply Inca troops en route to northern Ecuador. At Ingapirca they also developed a complex underground aqueduct system to provide water to the entire compound.

The Temple of the Sun is the most significant building whose partial ruins survive at the archeological site. It is constructed in the Inca way without mortar, as are most of the structures in the complex. The stones were carefully chiseled and fashioned to fit together perfectly. It was positioned in keeping with their beliefs and knowledge of the cosmos. Researchers have learned by observation that the Temple of the Sun was positioned so that on the solstices, at exactly the right time of day, sunlight would fall through the center of the doorway of the small chamber at the top of the temple. Most of this chamber has fallen down.

 Photo Archaeological Complex of Ingapirca in the Province of Cañar Ecuador

The people had numerous ritual celebrations at the complex. They prepared gallons of a local fermented drink to consume in the rituals of these festivals. As sun and moon worshipers, they tried to be as close to their gods as possible, and built their monuments high in the mountains.

The weather changes rapidly, within minutes, ranging from calm and sunny one minute and rainy, windy, and cold another minute. This climate volatility is typical year round. The people felt strongly that this was the place where the gods had led them, regardless of the climate.

5 Fun facts about the Ingapirca Ruins

The ruins of Ingapirca are located in southern Ecuador, in the province of Cañar, which are considered the most important pre-Columbian archaeological site in Ecuador. For this reason, we want to tell you 5 curiosities of the Ruins of Ingapirca, with the desire that if you have not already done so, encourage you to visit this fascinating destination of Ecuador.

1. What does Ingapirca mean?

Ingapirca is a Kichwa word that means "wall or wall of the Inca." In this important Archaeological Complex, the buildings are made with perfectly carved stones and joined with natural mortar.

 Photo Archaeological Complex of Ingapirca in the Province of Cañar Ecuador

2. What is the main attraction of the Ingapirca Archaeological Complex?

In the Ingapirca Archaeological Complex, the main nucleus is the Temple of the Sun or Castle, which has an elliptical shape and was built on a large stone called Pacarina that was a ceremonial Cañari temple. The Temple of the Sun and its walls are samples of the Inca culture since these were sun worshipers, while the city's puma design and the crescent shape of the complex are manifestations of the Cañari civilization, since these were worshipers of the moon.

3. Ingapirca: symbol of the Inca domain

Ingapirca was a site of concentration of the Cañari culture, native to Ecuador, and the Inca culture. This site constitutes a symbol of the dominance of the Incas before the Spanish conquest in America. It was "an important ceremonial zone, which united diverse cultures through Tahuantinsuyo and became, like Machu Picchu in Cuzco (Peru), symbols of the power of the Inca civilization." Source: National Institute of Cultural Heritage, 2019.

4. Ingapirca: union of cultures

The Inca invasion caused Ingapirca to become an important religious, political, military, ritual and administrative center, in addition to fulfilling "an astronomical calendar function [...] for the programming and control of the calendar of agricultural production at the regional level". Source: Ministry of Tourism, 2019.

There, both Canaris and Inca co-existed, hence a mixture of traditions is created, and that is the reason why archaeological remains of the two cultures have been found. In the museum of the Ingapirca Archaeological Complex you can see more than 150 pieces found in the area, such as textiles, ceramics, jewelry, among others.

5. Ingapirca and the Qhapaq Ñan (Inca Trail)

The Ingapirca Archaeological Complex is a must for all those who want to know part of the Qhapaq Ñan - Andean Road System, the network or road system of about 30,000 kilometers built over several centuries by the Incas.

 Photo Archaeological Complex of Ingapirca in the Province of Cañar Ecuador

Make the most of the historical, archaeological and cultural riches of the province of Cañar, you will be amazed!