Kondor Path Tours

Tambomachay Information


The archaeological site of Tambomachay has located 8 km from the city of Cusco. (15 min.) To the northeast of Cusco, by asphalted road, and 1 km from Puca-pucará. It does locate in the foothills near the main road to the Antisuyo, on the Tambomachay river. It is also known as the Tambo de la Caverna and occupies 437 square meters, located at 3,700 meters altitude.

The name comes from two Quechua words: Tampu, collective lodging, and Mach’ay, which means resting place. However, according to other references, the word “machay” means “caverns,” which would describe the peculiar environment where these natural rock formations are appreciated. According to the indigenous tradition, they were the object of veneration or magical practices.

Formed by a set of finely carved stone structures, aqueducts, and waterfalls from nearby springs and hot springs (thought to be related to water worship) is one of the pillars of the Andean worldview. It is considered one of the first ceque worshipers of the Antisuyo.

According to the chronicles, it was the hunting ground of Inca Yupanqui, which makes suppose that it was an area affluent in animal species.


The monument is remarkable for its architectural excellence. Four walls or stepped terraces are attached to the hill, constructed based on irregular polyhedra of carved stone, masterfully assembled, forming three parallel platforms. A thick wall (15 meters long by 4 meters high) is adorned with four niches on the latter stands. The stones have been perfectly fitted. It presents/displays four great niches or niches trapezoidal of two 2 meters on average. In front of the construction, a circular tower had to have defense and communication purposes.

Water worship

Water itself did revere as the source of life. Tambomachay has a unique hydraulic system. Two aqueducts artistically carved into the rock carry and maintain a constant flow of clear and clean water throughout the year, coming from a pool that is at a higher level. This network of underground canals pours its waters into a small stone pool at the lowest level. This pool had to be a liturgical source, where the Inca worshiped the water with the great ones of the Empire.

The “Bath of the Ñusta” has many similarities to Ollantaytambo, of perfectly assembled stones with carved edges and channels for drainage. Although it is an open work today, the foundations indicate that it was initially an enclosure closed. It does enter through four trapezoidal double-jamb portico platforms. From the river, two thick walls cut the support wall. One of them looks at the river and has two large niches, the second, almost perpendicular to the first, has a door with a double jamb.

The Incas used this type of door to highlight the importance of a place. You reach a small room through this door where the water that appears from the earth’s bowels is visible. It has not been possible to discover the origin of the spring that supplies clean and abundant water to the sources. Some believe that the gentle slope where the site does locate cannot produce those waters and originate on the river’s opposite bank. Of that, there is no doubt of perfection in the carving of the canals. The sound of water, tranquility, peace of the environment, and the closed and collected form of the space it built give Tambomachay a peculiar atmosphere. In addition, it is an excellent example of the ability of Andean architects to harmonize buildings with the landscape.

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