Kuelap Fortress – Luya, Peru - Atlas Obscura

Kuelap Fortress

Luya, Peru

An Archaeological Wonder of Peru, and the largest stone ruin site in the New World. 


In Chachapoyas Peru, the winding rivers and creek beds carve the terrain, headwaters of fuel for the mighty Amazon River. The few and far between roads and paths scar a landscape where ancient civilizations arose and fell. Remote and oasitic stone ruins hide beneath the bromeliads.The Chachapoyas, or “Land of Cloud Peoples,” holds many mysteries.

Kuelap, a mountaintop fortress city, rivals any ruins in the new world and comes complete with living quarters for thousands of residents and a stone wall fortification reaching 60 feet high running in circumference to the city.

Kuelap is considered the largest stone ruin site in the New World and is comprised of massive stone blocks nearly 10-times the volume of the blocks used in the Giza Pyramid.

The fortress of Kuélap consists of massive exterior stone walls containing more than four hundred buildings. The structure, situated on a ridge overlooking the Utcubamba Valley in northern Peru, is roughly 600 meters in length and 110 meters in width and is thought to have been built to defend against the Huari or other hostile peoples. Archaeological evidence shows that the structure was built around 500 AD and occupied until the mid-1500s (Early Colonial period).

Nearby the ruins can be found “purunmachus” or stone tombs built in the shape of people that would have housed the mummified remains of Chachapoyas royalty. (Somewhat similar to the cliff effigies in Torajaland, Indonesia.)

Know Before You Go

Lima Peru fly to Tarapoto, overland 8-hours to Chachapoyas city.

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