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Ingapirca (Kichwa: Inkapirka, "Inca wall") is a town in Cañar Province, Ecuador, and the name of an Incan archeological site just outside the town. The town was named after the Inca palace and temple site.
These are the largest known Inca ruins in Ecuador. The most significant building is the temple of the sun, an elliptically shaped building constructed around a large rock. The building is constructed in the Inca way without mortar in most of the complex. The stones were carefully chiseled and fashioned to fit together perfectly. The temple of the sun was positioned so that on the solstices, at exactly the right time of day, sunlight would fall through the center of the doorway of the small chamber at the top of the temple. Most of this chamber has fallen down.
The Incas were not the first inhabitants of Ingapirca. It had long been settled by the Cañari indigenous people, who called it Hatun Cañar.
The castle-complex presents an Inca-Cañari origin. The objective of its construction is uncertain. The complex played an important role on military strategies as a fortress and provisions to troops on north Ecuador. A common criteria of archeologists states that the main objective for its construction was linked to cult of sun.
It is said that the Inca Túpac Yupanqui during the expansion's campaigns of the Inca-Empire through south Ecuador met the Cañari "Hatun Cañar" tribe and had difficulties in conquering them. In a second attempt, political strategies lead him to marry the Cañari princess and improve the Cañari city of Guapondelig, calling it Pumapungo (nowadays Cuenca).
Inca and Cañari decided to settle their differences and live together peacefully, and the astronomical observatory was built under Inca Huayna Capac. They renamed the city and kept most of their individual customs separate. Although the Inca were more numerous, they did not demand that the Cañari give up their autonomy.
At Ingapirca they developed a complex underground aqueduct system to provide water to the entire compound.
As a cult edification, people had numerous ritual celebrations on the complex. Gallons of a local fermented drink were used in these festivals. As sun and moon worshipers, they tried to be as close to their gods as possible. The weather changes there are usually within minutes of each other, calm and sunny one minute and rainy, windy, and cold another minute. This climate volatility is typical year round. The people felt strongly that this was the place where the gods had led them, regardless of the climate.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ingapirca.
To visit Ingapirca, travelers can take a day tour up from the city of Cuenca or spend the night in the towns of El Tambo or Cañar.