This site was very important to the Cañari nation and further developed by the Incas, presumably as part of their subjugation tactics as they gained control of the area. It is the premier Inca site in Ecuador but less interesting than a lot of the ruins in Peru.
Ingapirca means ‘Wall of the Inca’ but it’s not entirely clear how the site functioned. The most impressive structure is a platform known as the Castle (el Castillo) which was possibly an observatory or a sun temple. It is the only elliptical construction found in the Inca kingdom and the mortarless stonework is really impressive. Around this you can see some sloping doorways and store rooms but most of the stones from the other structures were stolen years ago, so you have to look at the layout of the foundations and use your imagination to imagine how the various storerooms, barracks, baths and elite quarters would have appeared.
Another interesting part is Pilaloma, in the south-west corner of the site. No-one is sure how this area was used but archaeologists imagine it had some ceremonial function. In the centre there is a large semi-oval standing stone and on the ground next to it several small stones have been arranged in a circle. This marks a tomb where the remains of 11 bodies (women and at least one man) were found. One woman was adorned with copper, bones, shells and buried with jugs and cloth.
Ingapirca was never ‘lost’ but was left in an abandoned condition for many years. The site was carefully restored by various working groups between 1966 and 1983.
At the exit to the site you can continue straight along a path which leads up past various sculptures in outcrops and large boulders. It’s not that easy to make out what the sculptures are about (one is a game, one a seat, one a turtle (it doesn’t look like anything to me ) and probably the most impressive is an ‘Inca’ face in a cliff. Still, it’s a pleasant 20 minute circular walk with nice views of the valley and cascading water.
It costs $2 for Ecuadorian and foreign visitors to enter the park. Under 16’s and over 65’s pay 50 cents. Children under 2 years old don’t have to pay.
There are guides available and also a simple but informative museum with displays in Spanish only.