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PIQUILLACTA AND THE LUCRE LAGOON

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PIQUILLACTA AND THE LUCRE LAGOON


Piquillacta or City of fleas is a national archaeological park with landscapes of great interest. It is situated in the province of Quispicanchis and covers an area of 8453 acres. It was one of the most spectacular regional centers of the Wari culture.

Piquillacta is a compound word in Quechua that means lousy town (piki: fleas, llaqta: town). Despite of the fact that the original name is not known, this place was called "Pikillaqta" since the last years of the colonial period or at the beginning of the republic.


Location
It is situated at 32 km (20 miles) to the east and at 22 km to the south of the city of Cusco following the asphalted road to Puno.
Currently, they use the paved road to Puno and Arequipa. It is at 3150 m.a.s.l.


Description
The constructions of Piquillacta are composed by more than 700 structures: 200 Kanchas (departments), 504 qolqas (storages) and different buildings that should have sheltered a population of about ten thousand people.
The city was displayed in a harmonious and symmetric way, in blocks with straight streets that embraced many sectors such as the administrative, ceremonial, urban, defensive and a road system. Its buildings had 2 or 3 floors of 12 meters high each one.

The walls were made with mud and stones, wide at the bottom but thin at the upper part. At the beginning of the nineties, these walls were covered with mud of 9 cm, that then were painted with plaster. Floors were also made with a kind of thick plaster showing the appearance of a white city.

Very near the city, we find the Lucre lagoon or Huacarpay at about 3200 meters high (10500 feet). This was a shelter of wild fauna species such as wild ducks, geese and flamingos due to the suitable atmosphere produced thanks to totora canes and terraces to cultivate in the rocky faces of the mountains. They also fished trout and atherine.

This lagoon encloses long and beautiful stories narrated through generations to be enjoyed by anyone wishing to hear them. It is said that there was a princess called Qori T'ika (Golden flower) who decided to help her people because they did not have water and their fields only grew during the rainy season. So she offered her love to the person who could get water for the city.

Three young princes accepted the offer, they wanted to achieve the love of Qori T'ika: Paukar that was a Qolla ("Qollao" or high plateau) built an aqueduct in the mountains but due to the altitude the water could get to the city. Tuyasta who was a Canchino (province of Canchis) built an aqueduct that surrounded the mountainous skirts but he could not achieve his goal either. Finally, Sunqo Rumi , a Quechua born in a medium area, performed a good work of hydraulic engineering and satisfied the request of the princess offering water to the city.
Now, we can still see two of the three aqueducts built by the man of Cusco in the middle of the opposite mountain ( at the other side of the lagoon and to east of the town of Lucre). Only one out of the three canals get up to Pikillaqta: the higher one that runs about 10 km (6.2 miles).

Currently, the situation has changed. Some modern buildings are used as resting houses for the occasional visitors. And the lagoon is 1 km (0.62 miles) far from the place, and at a low level of about 150 meters (492 feet) , for this reason there is not water.

The park has many interesting places such as Choquepuqyo, Kañaraqay, Minaspata, Amarupata, Salitriyuq, Tamboraqay, Qaranqayniyuq, Rayallaqta, etc.

Besides, in 1927 they found 40 micro turquoise structures that today are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Cusco. And a stone sculpture representing a puma (mountainous lion) of real size.


PIQUILLACTA AND THE LAGOON OF LUCRE
3150 m.a.s.l.
An archaeological area and a landscape of great interest. It is located at 22 km (45 minutes) to the south of the city following the paved road to Puno. Piquillacta or "city of fleas" was one of the most spectacular regional centers of Wari Culture. 700 structures and some walls of 12 meters high compose the complex. Nearby we find the Lucre or Huacarpay lagoon, a shelter of local wild fauna. Next to it there is a lodge and a restaurant. In this town we find the second oldest textile factory of Peru built in 1861.

It is a National Archaeological Park covering 8453 acres and it is located in the province of Quispicanchis to the East of the city of Cusco at about 32 km (20 miles). Nowadays we can take the paved road to Puno and Arequipa. On the road we find the districts of Oropeza, Lucre and Andahuaylillas near the lagoon of Wakarpay that is situated at about 3200 meters (10500 feet). In the Andes of Peru there are about 12000 small lagoons such as Wakarpay. Almost all of them have very rich flora and fauna. It normally has many totora canes creating a perfect atmosphere for wild ducks of different species, geese, flamingos, etc. It is also possible go fishing and fish trout and atherine. "Pikillacta" is a compound Quechua word that means "lousy town" (piki=louse, llaqta=town). However, this is not the original name of the town. Its former name is unknown, though many chroniclers call this area with the name of "Muyuna", Muyna or Mohina". It seems that this place was called "Pikillaqta" since the last years of the colonial period or at the beginning of the republic, nobody knows the reasons. The archaeological site of Pikillaqta is located at 3350 meters (11000 feet) and belonged to a city of the Wari Culture developed in the current Ayacucho. Wari culture is a mixture of cultural elements of Warpa, Nazca and civilizations of Tiawanako. The territorial expansion started and Wari occupied the Valley of Cusco towards 750 AC until about 1200. At the beginning of the Inca development, the Waris lost the war and were conquered in this area but its city refused to be part of the Tawantinsuyo. Today that city has approximately 700 buildings, 200 "kanchas" (apartments) and 504 "qolqas" (storages) and different buildings. It must have had a population of about 10 thousand people. The city has a very harmonious geometric almost perfect plan divided into blocks of straight streets. The archaeologist Mc Ewan says that they had several complementary areas here: administrative, ceremonial, urban, defensive and a system of roads. Its buildings had 2 or 3 floors with high walls made with mud joint to the stones. Walls were wide at the base and thin at the top. According to studies of the team of Gordon Mc Ewan at the beginning of the eighties, those walls were originally covered with mud of 9 cm and then painted with plaster, thus the floor was made with a kind of thick plaster, showing in this way it was a white city. Rooms were narrow, adjusted to the length of wood found in the area. In 1927, the archaeologist Justo Aparicio, found 40 turquoise micro sculptures which are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Cusco. Consequently, Luis A. Pardo found a stone sculpture representing a puma (mountainous lion) of real size. Many specialists suggest that in the time of the Incas, Pikillaqta was used as a city for "Mitimaes" (group of people or tribes moving from one place to another). Nowadays, there is no water in this place. The Wakarpay lagoon is about 1 km (0.62 miles) far from the place and at a lower level of about 150 meters (492 feet). However, many years ago they used to have abundant water in that town.

There is a very old tradition that Alfonsina Barrionuevo summaries like this: once upon a time there was a pretty princess called Qori T'ika (Golden Flower) who lived in this place lacking of water and with fields that only bloomed during raining seasons. When she was old enough she wanted to help her people and decided to offer her love to the person who manage to bring water for Pikillaqta.

Three young princes accepted the offer: Paukar who was a Qolla ("Qollao" or High Plateau), Tuyasta who was Canchino (province of Canchis) and Sunqo Rumi who was Quechua. The first prince who was used to the altitude built an aqueduct in the mountains but water could not get to the city. The second prince, a man of a low region, built an aqueduct that surrounded the skirts of the mountains so he could satisfy the princess. The prince from Cusco, born in a central region, performed a great work of hydraulic engineering satisfying the city with water.
He conquered the love of Qori T'ika in this way. Today, it is possible to see in the middle of the opposite mountain (at the opposite side of the lagoon and next to the east of the town of Lucre) two parallel horizontal lines that are two out of the three aqueducts built by the prince of Cusco. Only the higher canal of those two riverbeds arrived at Pikillaqta running about 10 km (6.2 miles). The park has many other interesting places such as Choquepuqyo, Kañaraqay, Minaspata, Amarupata, Salitriyuq, Tamboraqay, Qaranqayniyuq, Rayallaqta, etc. To the east side of the lagoon, there are many terraces to cultivate in the rocky faces of the mountains. And going down we find some modern buildings used as resting houses for the occasional visitors. To the East of Piquillacta, there is a big wall that in its higher part has an aqueduct for water as an ornament. In this pre-Columbian city there is also two grates named as Grates of Rumiqollqa that were used to see all the people arriving at Cusco in those times. It is known that all the inhabitants that visited the huge empire had to leave offers they prepared along their lives. We also know that the City of Cusco represented a sort of "Meca" for the Quechuas. Therefore, every person of the Tawantinsuyo had the dream of visiting the "city of the puma" at least once in their lives. Visiting this city meant a higher level to the people. For instance, if two people came from very distant places and met travelling in different ways, the person who had already been to Cusco was recognized and greeted with great respect by any person who had never seen him before. Today, to the east of the paved road in the 35 km (22 mile) we find the Rumiqolqa (rumi=stone, qolqa=storage). It was very famous during the Incas period as they extracted andesites that were used to build the most important buildings in Cusco. Today, the mines are still exploited but the substructures are completely disturbed.




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