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Tambomachay Cusco

Tambomachay Cusco

Tambomachay or Tampumachay (Quechua: tampu: lodging colectio and mach’ay, is ‘resting place’), is an archaeological complex that was made in honor of the cult of water and so that the Inca sovereign of the Tahuantinsuyo organization could rest since the archaeological complex of Tambomachay is also known as the Inca Baths; it is considered as one of the most important Inca monuments, due to the extraordinary assembly and great mastery of the stones that make up its walls.

It has an amazing subway hydraulic system considered as one of the best and most important hydraulic constructions of the Inca culture, because the Inca civilization venerated water as a life giving deity for human life.

What does Tambomachay mean?

There is little information about the origin of this name, it is believed that Tambomachay has its origin in 2 Quechua words: ‘Tampu’ is collective lodging and ‘Mach’ay’ is the place of rest. This definition would explain the function it had as ‘Baths of the Inca’ and water shrine, water being one of the deities that the Incas had. But there are other studies which indicate that ‘Machay’ means ‘Caves’. Because of this, this meaning is not discarded since there are rock formations that stand out in the archaeological site of Tambomachay. We must point out that in the Andean Inca cosmovision, these rock formations were sites that connected the real world with the world of the dead. Taking into account both cases, Tambomachay was a place of great importance during the Inca empire.


The archaeological site of TAMBOMACHAY is remarkable for its architectural excellence because in it are captured the wisdom and great knowledge of the Inca culture; we can observe four walls or stepped terraces adjacent to the hill, built on the basis of irregular polyhedrons of carved stone, masterfully and carefully assembled, and form three parallel platforms. On the last one it constitutes a thick wall of 15 meters of length by 4 meters of height, adorned with four elegant niches.

The stones are perfectly fitted. It presents four great trapezoidal niches or niches of two 2 meters in average approximately. In front of the construction there was a circular tower that must have had defense and communication purposes.

The water itself was venerated as the source of life of the whole. The archaeological site of Tambomachay has an extraordinary hydraulic system that reflects the great knowledge of the Incas. Two aqueducts artistically carved in the rock transport and maintain a constant flow of clean, pure and clear water throughout the year where it can still be observed today, coming from a pool that is at a higher level. This network of subway channels spills its waters into a small stone pool at the lowest level of the site. This pool must have been a liturgical source of great importance, where the Inca worshiped the water.

Where is Tambomachay?

It is located in the Andes Mountains, just 7 kilometers (15 minutes) NE of the Peruvian city of Cusco, very close to the archaeological site of Sacsayhuaman, at an altitude of 3,700 meters above sea level. In the Cusco region of Peru. Due to its location, it is one of the most important centers in the ‘ceques’ or imaginary lines that started from Cusco and served the Incas to organize their historical sanctuaries and important centers of the organization of the Tahuantinsuyo.

Archaeological Complex of Tambomachay

Formed by a set of three parallel platforms, in the last of them stands a wall of 4 meters high and 15 meters long composed of 4 niches. In it one can observe the blocks of stones have been assembled to the perfection. It reflects of a series of channels, aqueducts and waterfalls of water that circulate through the rocks.

The water reaches the posa at the lowest level through its subway channels. In this magnificent place, two springs maintain an unchanging flow of clean water, which descends from another pool at a much higher level. It is also noteworthy that, from a main waterfall, the Inca empire created two secondary waterfalls, which are textually the same. A similar system can be seen in the stairway of the fountains in Machu Picchu. We can also observe that the blocks of stones have been fitted together perfectly.

This was proven by placing two empty bottles, one in each waterfall, and you can see that both would be filled simultaneously.

Here there were also a variety of royal gardens whose irrigation came from a complex system of canals specially designed for this purpose. Likewise, it can be observed in the archaeological complex of Tambomachay that this was a control area for people arriving from the Antisuyo, because in this area there was a control tower. When observing the monument from the river located at the top, you can see two thick walls that go beyond the supporting wall, you can also see that the one closest to the river has two large niches and the second, perpendicular to the first, has a double door jamb. This door was used by the Incas to highlight the importance of a building. This door leads to a small room where you can see water coming out of the ground.

The archaeological site of Tambomachay, along with Qenqo, Puca Pucara and Sacsayhuaman, are one of the most important archaeological complexes in the imperial city of Cusco, as they are also part of the Cusco city tour.

Its function was to provide water to the surrounding sites and as baths of the Inca and all those places that belonged to the Tahuantinsuyo. You can also clearly see the harmony that exists between its stone walls and the nature that surrounds it, transforming it into one of the most important places in the Inca Empire.

Visiting hours to Tambomachay

The entrance to the archaeological site of Tambomachay and other archaeological centers is from 08:00 a.m. to 06:00 p.m. (Monday – Sunday) for all national and international visitors.

Tambomachay, place of Inca’s homestead

Tambomachay is located at 3,700 meters above sea level (m.a.s.l.) Due to its altitudinal location at the foot of a mountain and on the Tambomachay River, it is said that in ancient times in the Inca and pre-Inca culture, there was abundant Andean fauna in the place that is why we find in the writings of chroniclers say that the enclosure was the area of the Inca Tupac Yupanqui’s home. Among the non-domesticated animals that inhabited the Peruvian Andes were the vicuña and the guanaco.

Tambomachay is one of the best examples of the great knowledge and wisdom of the Incas in the good management of water. The archaeological site has water channels made of local carved stone that end in two slopes where the crystalline water flows until today. There is a platform that served as a liturgical fountain and baths of the Inca.

Tambomachay was the center of water worship.

In Tambomachay, the Incas dedicated special interest in their constructions mainly the use of water, but there are also other important enclosures of the management of water channels as we can see in Tipon, Ollantaytambo, Pisac and even the same Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. According to the Andean cosmovision, water was the source of life for all mankind. It is believed that it symbolized the masculine (water) and the earth (Pachamama) the feminine, so the coalition of both caused fertility. The network of canals that filter the water in Tambomachay dispersed the liquid in a platform in the lower part, place where the Inca worshipped the water.

Where does the water come from?

The archaeological remains of Tambomachay were built on the Tambomachay River, springs and streams that exist in the place. Although it is not known to this day with certainty where the water that flows in the canals of Tambomachay comes from, the magnificent distribution of the crystalline water surprises many tourists and the world. All the liquid spring follows the course in unevenness in cascades all in equal proportion and it is in this way that nothing of the pure water that runs through these places is wasted. It is believed that the Tahuantinsuyo, the Incas calculated the flow of water in the canals in order that these do not collide, as even today these constructions are still flowing water after 600 years.

Perfection in the handling of stone

The hydraulic systems of Tambomachay, like other archaeological sites, were finely carved for the perfect flow of water. Tambomachay has four walls in the form of terraces placed in a main complex, where the stones were carved and assembled with such perfection that they still stand erect after almost 600 years ago.

The main wall is located in the upper part; in this construction you can see 4 trapezoidal niches each one with an approximate height of 2 meters. Due to the height of these walls, it is presumed that they also served as a defense against possible enemy attacks of the Inca culture. Near the archaeological site of Tambomachay can also be seen in the archaeological centers of Qenqo, Puca Pucara and Sacsayhuaman.

Frequently asked questions about Tambomachay

 When was Tambomachay built?

According to the studies carried out in the archaeological site of Tambomachay, it was built between 1400 and 1480 A.D. approximately, the site has an extension of approximately half a hectare and the material used for its construction was limestone with a polygonal style.

Where is Tambomachay located?

The archaeological remains of Tambomachay are located 7 km approximately 15 minutes from the cities of Cusco. To the northeast of the imperial city of Cusco, by paved road, you will also see in 1 km the archaeological remains of Puca Pucara another tourist site. Tambomachay is very close to Sacsayhuaman.

How to get to the archaeological site of Tambomachay?

After your trip from the capital of Peru, Lima, you will arrive to the imperial city of Cusco. To get to Tambomachay from Cusco, you have 3 options:

What is the best time to visit Tambomachay?

The best time to visit this magical place is in the dry season, which are the months of April to September (due to the climate in Cusco) is recommended this time because in October begins the rainy season.

Can I travel by bus to Tambomachay?

Yes, you can travel by bus to Tambomachay as it is very functional due to the short distance between the city of Cusco and Tambomachay archaeological site, so the minibuses take you for a cost of approximately 4 soles, in a journey of 15 to 20 minutes.

Is Tambomachay included in the Cusco City Tour?

Yes, the archaeological site of Tambomachay is included in the Cusco City Tour, which you can hire with any travel agency in Tourism (almost all agencies offer this type of service). This City Tour includes a guided tour to Tambomachay and other touristic places of Cusco.

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