Puma Punku, Tiahuanaco

4.7
#7 of 10 in Historic Sites in La Paz Department
Ruin · Hidden Gem · Mysterious Site
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Pumapunku or Puma Punku (Aymara and Quechua puma "cougar, puma," punku "door" or "gate"; Hispanicized Puma Puncu) is a 6th-century man-made terraced platform mound with a sunken court and monumental complex on top that is part of the Pumapunku complex, at the Tiwanaku Site near Tiwanacu, in western Bolivia. The Pumapunku complex is an alignment of plazas and ramps centered on the Pumapunku platform mound. Today the monumental complex on top of the platform mound lies in ruins.

It is believed to date to AD 536. After Akapana, which is believed to be "Pumapunku's twin", Pumapunku was the second most important construction in Tiwanaku. Among all the names for the areas in Tiwanaku only the names "Akapana" and "Pumapunku" have historical significance; both date back to at least 1610. At Pumapunku several miniature gates which are perfect replicas of once standing full-size gateways were found. Additionally to these miniature gateways, likely, at least five gateways (and several blind miniature gateways) were once (or were intended to be) integrated into the Pumapunku monumental complex. The foundation platform of Pumapunku supported as many as eight andesite gateways. The fragments of five andesite gateways with similar characteristics to the Gateway of the Sun were found.

Tiwanaku is significant in Inca traditions because it is believed to be the site where the world was created. In Aymara, Puma Punku's name means "Gate of the Puma". The Pumapunku complex consists of an unwalled western court, a central unwalled esplanade, a terraced platform mound that is faced with stone, and a walled eastern court.
At its peak, Pumapunku is thought to have been "unimaginably wondrous," adorned with polished metal plaques, brightly colored ceramic and fabric ornamentation, and visited by costumed citizens, elaborately dressed priests, and elites decked in exotic jewelry. Current understanding of this complex is limited due to its age, the lack of a written record, and the current deteriorated state of the structures due to treasure hunting, looting, stone mining for building stone and railroad ballast, and natural weathering.
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  • Only those who have been there will realize how powerful this place is and only imagine what ancient secrets we still don't know. 
    Only those who have been there will realize how powerful this place is and only imagine what ancient secrets we still don't know.  more »
  • Arriving at Tiahuanaco by road via Desaguadero, it was quite journey, the road was in good conditions, the town roads not so, there in the main plaza you will find the replication of many of the... 
    Arriving at Tiahuanaco by road via Desaguadero, it was quite journey, the road was in good conditions, the town roads not so, there in the main plaza you will find the replication of many of the...  more »
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  • Amazing ruins. Incredible history with so much still to be uncovered it is mind blowing.
  • Pre-incan temple from the Tihuanakota culture. Must visit with a guide to get around (~2 hrs outside La Paz and about 1km from main Tihuanaco site) and to appreciate the meaning of what you are looking at. Tour operators are plentiful in historic downtown La Paz.

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