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Tipón, Pikillacta and Andahuaylillas

Among stones and saints

Cusco, the "center of the world", seems to be an eternal source of attractive destinations. Some of them are well-known: Machu Picchu, Sacsayhuaman, the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and others, not so much, such as the circuit of Tipon, Pikillacta and Andahuaylillas. A strange group of prehispanic and Spanish remains. This is proving the cultural duality of the ancient capital of the Inca Empire.

     Tipón, Pikillacta and Andahuaylillas are the most important dishes of one of the many menus that are "cooked" and offered in Cusco in order to satisfy the voracious "appetite" of the travelers wishing to be "served" with the attractions of this city of prehispanic origins known as the "Archaeological Capital of America".

     Well, we better forget about comparing our gastronomy because we may make you feel hungry, you will go to eat and stop reading this article. So we go back to Cusco, to the Main Square where a group of travelers, so different because of the place they come from and the place they go to, are ready to get into a vehicle which starts moving as it had the first injections of fuel.
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     The Capital of the Inca stays behind us. Now we just have to think about what is coming and listen to the words of the guide who says, quickly and in different languages, that Tipon and Pickillacta are outstanding by their stone buildings, canals and systems of terraces, while Andahuaylillas is a beautiful church built by frightened teachers of those empty places.

     First stop: Tipón, an archaeological complex where water runs from the top of the "apu" Patachuán by carved large stone canals of Inca origin. The crystalline flow falls fancifully into some small fountains where veneration rites to the liquid element should have taken place.

     And because there is not only one version when we talk about history, the multilingual guide explains, based on the searcher from Cusco Victor Angles Vargas, that this place could have been the Royal House of Yahuar Huaca when the Inca left Cusco as the army of the Chancas approached. After that, they were defeated by his son, Viracocha, who received the mascaypacha ( the tuft of the Inca Governor) for being brave.

     This version is not approved by some searchers who affirm that Viracocha left Cusco when he knew about the army of the Chancas. So the Imperial city was defended successfully by his son Cusi Yupanqui called during his government as Pachacutec.

     But Tipón is not only an example of the knowledge in hydraulic engineering developed by the Incas but also a lovely place with a fantastic system of terraces where land still offers us marvelous fruits.

     Stone buildings, water canals, terraces with heavy vegetation. Tipón, near the district of Oropesa 20 kilometers to the East of Cusco, seduces and fascinate. Without doubt it is a good aperitif before coming the rest.

     Back to the road. Only 12 kilometers apart us from the Archaeological Park of Pikillacta (3 350 m.a.s.l.): a group of prehispanic buildings, rarely baptised with this Quechua word meaning "town of fleas" at the end of the Colony. We ignore the reason for this name, nor its original name.

     At the beginning, Pikillacta was a satellite city of Wari ( from VI to XIII AC centuries) an important civilization prior to the Empire of the Children of the Sun who took the goals reached by the Warpa, Nazca and Tiahuanaco skillfully. Its domain even got to the entrance of Cusco as it is shown by the buildings spreaded in about 50 acres.

     After its inevitable disaster, the Waris were replaced by the Chancas: a fighter town that had to fight against the emergent Empire of the Incas, they were finally defeated. Since then, the men of the Tawantinsuyo dominated the city inhabited by the "mitimaes" : the conquerors of those days.

     In this complex, we still find numerous Wari constructions composed by more than 700 buildings, 200 kanchas (patios) and many houses of up to three levels divided into blocks and straight streets. It is believed that in those years of apogee there were ten thousand people living there.

     To the east, we can admire the imposing facade of Rumicollqa where the visitors go to make the offers they have prepared all their whole life as the "town of fleas" was a sort of vestibule of the Empire capital.

     Those times Cusco was a sort of "meca" in the Andean World.
Visiting it, at least once, meant the dream of a whole life. Stepping in its venerated ground offers the pilgrimage a higher level.
Therefore when two people crossed while walking by distant paths, the one who had already been in the Empire capital was greeted with deep respect by the other man.

     As we do not have any offer and it is always good to avoid any "revenge" of the Wari, Chancas and Incas divinities, we left towards the modest town of Andahuaylillas (3 100 m.a.s.l.) situated at 36 kilometers far from Cusco. Suddenly the guide starts talking again and tells us about verbose explanations "as this place was called Antawaylla before ("coppery field" in Spanish) but they change the name to Andahuaylas. As it also could be confused with the name of a province of Apurimac they decided to use the short way", concludes the agitated guide almost without air.

     Beyond the stories about its baptise, Andahuaylillas is a andean corner of fertile lands with people proud of their beautiful church considered as the "Sistine Chapel of the Americas" because of the precious pieces of art decorating and filling its interior.

     There is not space for anything. It is full of murals, paintings and canvases with images of religious stories such as the story of Saint Paul, a clear evidence of the techniques of the Academy of Cusco, or perfect images like the image of the "Virgen de la Asuncion" drawn in the head of the main arch granted to the Spanish Esteban Murillo.

     It seems they did not forget anything when they decorated this church nor the benches, or the main altar of unmistakable baroque style, even more its decorated sky with geometric figures and golden flowers.

     Near the door and the baptistery or baptise fountain you can read an especial writing: "I baptise you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holly Spirit. Amen". It is written in five languages spoken at the time it was built: Latin, Spanish, Quechua, Aymara and Pukina ( a dead language).

     We have to mention the astonishing murals at both sides of the entrance where we find the representations of the profane path full of attractions but leading to hell and the virtuous but full of difficulties path leading to heaven.

     The excessive inner decorations contradict the extreme sobriety of the façade with its small belfry and its walls made of adobe. The temple, built in the XVI century by the order of the Jesuits, is over the ruins of a sacred place for the Incas.

     Andahuaylillas: a temple hiding wonders where important artists have known how to create their hybrid art. Ah… it is so different to Tipón and Pikillacta. Only Cusco can offer you this amazing contrast between the Andean world and the Occidental world. The guide starts again, I do not listen to her anymore. I am trying to talk with the Gods.

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