Rumicucho Pucara – Reminder of the Past

Set in barren, semi-arid landscape on sandy, volcanic soil, the ruins of Pucara Rumicucho are situated about 30 kilometers north of the city of Quito in Ecuador. Built by the Incas in the 15th century under the leadership of Tupac Yupanqui, the tenth Sapa Inca (God Emperor) of the Inca Empire, Pucara Rumicucho is one of the many tourist attractions in the area that is well worth exploring.

In the Quechua language, pucara means “fortress”, rumi means “stone” and cucho means “corner”, therefore Pucara Rumicucho can be translated as “stone fortress”. Incan fortresses were always constructed in high places, and Pucara Rumicucho is no exception. Perched on a hill, Pucara Rumicucho provides a clear view of all the surrounding area and the peaks of Cayambe and La Marca can be seen.

The design of the five large stone terraces in a pyramid-like shape suggests that Pucara Rumicucho was used as a gathering place for worship of the sun and moon. The fact that the mountains in which the ruins are situated form a horizontal line from east to west over which the sun crosses during the equinox, adds weight to the belief that Pucara Rumicucho was an important site for Incan ceremonies of worship. Two oval rooms and a rock are believed to have been strategically built to represent the solstices and equinoxes. This is an indication that the Incas had advanced knowledge with regard to astronomy. Each of the five terraces is surrounded by a stone wall, having interior rooms in different shapes and sizes which housed, and protected, the community living there.

For archaeologists, Pucara Rumicucho has been a veritable treasure trove of artifacts, adornments, tools and more. The collection of bone crafts – tools and implements crafted from animals of the camilidae family – that have been retrieved from Pucara Rumicucho is considered by many experts to be the most important collection in the Northern Andes. Superb examples of various tools, such as needles in numerous shapes and sizes, bears testimony to the fact that the Incas were adept in weaving and producing textiles. Items discovered include teaspoons and ornamental pins decorated with intricate designs of animals and birds. Many of these fascinating items can be viewed in the museum which was recently established and promotes Pucara Rumicucho as a site of great historical significance in Ecuador.