Raqch’i (Quechua) is an Inca archaeological site in Peru located in the Cusco Region, Canchis Province, San Pedro District, near the populated place Raqch’i. It is 3480 meters above sea level and 110 kilometers from the city of Cuzco. It also known as the Temple of Wiracocha, one of its constituents. Both lie along the Vilcanota River.
The Inka site at Raqch’i was a primary control point on a road system that originated in Cusco and expanded as the Inka empire grew. It is located in a valley known for sacred sites. Most of the Inka structures are enclosed by a 4 km-long perimeter wall, but just outside it, on the Inka road that entered Raqch’i from Cusco, an enclosure with eight rectangular buildings around a large courtyard was probably a tampu (a lodging house for travellers). The administrative records from around the same time as the site indicate that this was in all likelihood such a place. The complex of Raqch’i consists of several different areas each designated with a specific function. Some have noted that these buildings may have been for religious and administrative officials. Others speculate that these buildings, paired with the scale of defenses may have been used as barracks to house troops. Nearby are approximately 220 circular buildings, likely used as storehouses, called qullqas. On the nearby hillsides are irrigated terraces which were likely used to keep the qullqas full for those traveling through. Raqch’i also houses a nearby spring and a pool or bath in proximity to the Temple of Wiracocha which could have been used for rituals. It has also been mentioned that because of the dual religious and administrative purposes, that the Sun cult might have held the surrounding lands to keep llamas for sacrifice like a similar site called Mayobamba.
The most prominent structure is the Temple of Wiracocha, an enormous rectangular two-story roofed structure that measures 92 metres (302 ft) by 25.5 metres (84 ft). This structure consists of a central adobe wall some 18 to 20 meters in height with an andesite base. Windows and doors allow passage. It is flanked on each side by a row of eleven columns. The foundations measure 4 metres (13 ft) for both the wall and the columns are classic high Inca stonework with the remaining height built of adobe.
Prior to its destruction by the Spaniards, the temple had what is believed to be the largest single roof in the Incan Empire, having its peak at the central wall, then stretching over the columns and some 25 metres (82 ft) beyond on each side. The huge proportions of the temple, and its prominence on the site explain why the whole complex is also sometimes referred to as the Temple of Wiracocha.
The temple is the only Inka building for which we have an account of how people should walk through it. It is highly significant that the design of the building means that, on entering its two known doorways, progress of visitors is immediately blocked by a series of tall pillars that they are forced to walk around. If devotees took this as a suggestion as to how to proceed through the building, they would have begun to trace a path similar to a zig-zag motion. This could have been deliberate design; a way to express aspects of Inka cosmology in particular their relationship with Wiracocha. In processing through the temple, the devotees would have wound their way towards the statue of Viracocha, the volcano and the spring.
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