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The Oracle of Pachacamac Isles

The so called ecological District of Lurín is located 36 kilometres South of the Historic Centre of Lima. It is a gentle town in an area that is considered one of the lungs of the large Capital.

It was a zone of rudimentary farmers and fishermen since the beginnings of time. But soon they achieved to develop an advanced Culture which was characterised by a magical-religious attitude.

The Temple of Pachacámac was rose nearby. It has a field museum very well put and the basic infrastructure for guided tours.



One of the most important Archaeological sites in the Central Coast of Peru, the ancient Oracle of Pachacámac, the renowned Ceremonial Centre that caused such an impact on the Spanish conquistadors impact, and even the proper Incas when they arrived to the Coast, is located at the entrance of the District, going through the Pan American Highway.

Its construction is attributed to the Lima Culture (Centuries IV and V A.C.), as well as that of the Temples of Urpiwachak and the Compound of Adobitos. After them, and for 1000 years, it was occupied by the Wari, Ishmay and Inca Cultures, who added their own style to the buildings they found.

As on all of the Peruvian Coast, the main material used for the buildings was mud bricks or adobes.

Pachacámac was a Religious Centre of pan-regional category, whose origins are not yet well known. It seems to have constituted an important Centre of Power towards the beginnings of the Early Intermediate Period.

The discovery of a temple of the said period, whose façade was painted in red and that nowadays is known as the Old Temple, was accomplished by the famous German archaeologist Max Uhle. His findings, especially concerning ceramics and textiles, exhibit Sierra Highland designs, in many cases of undeniable Inca inspiration.

Another temple, which has been baptised as the Painted Temple, due to the mural painting remains found in it, might be of a later date, perhaps from the Late Intermediate Period (Centuries IX to X).

The construction activity was increased from the XIth to the XVth Century, and with it, the power of the ideology referred to the Gods venerated at the site. It is the era of the construction of palace-temples that recall the ziggurats of the Near and Middle East, known as "Provincial temples", as a result of the need of the various communities of the Central Coast to legitimise their belonging to a cult of amazing prestige.

The coexistence of temples of different periods coming from Coastal areas strengthens the idea that Pachacámac was an oracle. The European chroniclers of the XVIth Century indicate that the Supreme Deity was Ichma, associated to the telluric powers.

When the Incas established themselves on the Central coast, they recognised its power and kept it in force as part of their expansionist politics; but they also built a new sanctuary on top of a rocky hill: the imposing Temple of the Sun.

When the Spanish soldiers desecrated Pachacámac, they destroyed the Temple of the idol and the Divinity made of wood, and looted the treasures of the Temples.

According to chroniclers, Pachacámac was one of the places from where the gold and silver to pay the ransom demanded to free Inca Atahualpa - consisting on two rooms full of gold and silver respectively, from the floor up to the lifted hand of the native ruler - was obtained.

The God Pachacámac, original from the Central Coast, survived the Inca and Spanish influence. According to the Inca mythology, it was the God of Fire and Son of the Sun, and the Rejuvenator of the World; its strength was related to the Earthquakes and, after the arrival of the Catholic faith, to the Christ of Pachacamilla, better known today as the Lord of the Miracles.

All of the Ceremonial Centre can be seen Eastward from it, whilst the Pacific Ocean is Westward, as well as two isles that are part of oral tradition since pre-Hispanic times.

Seen as a whole, Pachacámac represents one of the most important sources within the long, complex and dynamic process of Regional Andean integration.

It has been declared Cultural Patrimony of Humanity and it currently occupies an area of approximately 492 hectares. It has a Field Museum and some protected natural areas, such as a Wood of Carob trees and a lagoon.

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They are located in front of the Beach of Lurín, adjacent to the Valley of the same name. Seen from afar they resemble the back and the tail of a white whale. The largest, known as Pachacámac Island, has an altitude of 108 metres above sea level. The smallest one is known as the Pachacámac crag.

These islands are representative, for as of here one can start watching the first groups of the so called Humboldt penguins.

The population of penguins has decreased mainly due to two factors: the first one generated little ago as a consequence of the oceanographic changes that El Niño brought along with it; and the second one, yet older, given to the presence of humans within there natural habitat.

It is known that the penguins are much "appreciated" for their meat and eggs; besides being very easy to capture, as the men staying in the islands do during the months of extraction of the accumulated guano.