Dating back to the first century, this complex of plazas, palaces, and pyramids was for centuries a stronghold of the Huari people. Here they worshipped Pachacámac, creator of the world. It was a pilgrimage site, and people from all over the region came to worship. In the 15th century the city was captured by the Incas, who added structures such as the Accllahuasi, the Palace of the Chosen Women. When the Spanish heard of the city, they dispatched troops to plunder
its riches. In 1533, two years before the founding of Lima, they marched triumphantly into the city, only to find a few remaining objects in gold. The extensive ruins are spread across a desert ridge with views of the verdant Lurin River valley, the Pacific Ocean, and Pachacámac Island. The site has both pre-Incan temples and several that were built by the Incas, such as the Templo del Inti (Temple of the Sun), with its grand staircase leading up to colonnaded walkways. There is a small but excellent museum and some resident llamas and Peruvian hairless dogs. The easiest way to visit Pachacámac, located 31 km (19 miles) south of Lima, is on a half-day guided tour offered by several Lima agencies. If you prefer to hire a taxi, there are knowledgeable guides available at the entrance (S/20).