Modern Pisac is a market town in Peru close to the site of old Pisac, which lies about 4.5 kilometres further up the mountain to the northeast of Cuzco.
Pisac lies in the ‘Holy Inca Valley’. Together, the two cities of Pisac and Ollantaytambo are considered the peak of Inca architecture. The skill with which the large blocks of granite are built into the walls of the buildings is of the highest standard found anywhere in the world. The stones fit seamlessly together.
The Inca city sits on a rocky mountaintop at 3,270 metres above sea level. As with other Inca cities, it is characterised by a number of artificial terraces on a mountain slope which were once held in place by stone walls. Just as in Machu Picchu and Ollantaytambo, the terraces had an agricultural purpose.
The function of many of the structures in Pisac is unknown. In the Inca world the military and religious aspects of the culture are closely interwoven and this often makes it difficult to understand the specific use. What we do know is that the structures are a mixture of palaces, temples, storage buildings, ramparts, observatories, roads, paths, tunnels and passages. Among these larger buildings there are also many houses.
Text Harrie Wolters
Translation Alun Harvey