The Inca Empire was centered in Peru - the capital of Cusco and Machu Picchu are both in Peru. But the empire was much greater than that and expanded as far south as Santiago in Chile and as far north as Columbia. It included all of Ecuador and today Ecuador boasts some pretty impressive Inca ruins.

The Inca built a massive road network through much of western South America while keeping records with quipu, and finely weaving textiles. Peru understandably is famous for its Inca heritage, but it often crowds out Ecuador which also boasts a rich Inca heritage.

THETRAVEL VIDEO OF THE DAY

The Inca Empire Spread Well Beyond Peru

The Inca Empire expanded from the Peruvian highlands in the early 13th century and between 1438 and 1533 they incorporated much of western South America. In 1532 the Spanish conquered much of the empire with the last of it disappearing in 1572.

  • Collapsed: Between 1532 and 1572

The empire is considered one of the greatest historical empires in world history even though it lacked what in the Old World were fundamental resources and technologies - like the use of the wheel, draft animals, knowledge of iron or steel, or even a fully developed system of writing (they did have Quipu that we still don't fully understand).

Related: What You Didn't Know About The Incredible History Behind Machu Picchu

Ingapirca - The Largest Inca Site In Ecuador

One of the main Inca attractions in Ecuador is Ingapirca. Ingapirca (meaning "Inca Wall") the largest known archeological site of Inca ruins in Ecuador. The most important building there is the Temple of the Sun - an elliptically shaped building constructed around a large rock.

  • Located: In Ecuador's Cañar province
  • Largest: The Largest Known Incan Archeological Site In Ecuador

The ruins of the walls remain remarkable and have been made in the typical Incan way of cutting the stones to perfection. It doesn't use any adherent or morter (just like the walls at Machu Picchu). Much remains uncertain about the site and the conquering and destroying the Spanish didn't make things any easier.

The Spanish quarried the site for stone to build their own projects. But many ruins remain and is a significant tourist attraction in the area.

  • Getting There: A Day tour From Cuenca is Possible

If one would like to visit, one can take a day tour from the Ecuadorian city of Cuenca. Another option is to spend a night in the closer towns of El Tambo or Cañar.

Pumapungo Archeological Park

Another of the main Inca attractions in Ecuador is the Pumapungo Archeological Park. The site was once a center of Incan culture. The site was built at the end of the 15th century and included a Temple of the Sun and the convent of the Virgins of the Sun. In its day, it would have been one of the most beautiful cities of the ancient Inca empire.

It also had political and administrative buildings. It has the largest set of Inca archeological ruins south of Ingapirca. One will see a large irrigation channel as well as a ritual bath for the purification of bodies.

Location: In The Historical Center Of The City of Cuenca

Today one can explore the ruins of Pumapungo and then explore the nearby ethnographic museum to get a better understanding of the history of Pumapungo and the indigenous people of Ecuador. At the bottom of the Museum, one can see a tunnel over thirty meters long. It served as a mausoleum and symbolized the underworld (the home of the spirits of the ancestors).

Museum Opening Hours:

  • Monday: Closed
  • Tuesday to Friday: 8h00 to 17h30
  • Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays: from 10h00 to 16h00
  • Museum pumapungo Admission Fee: Free Entrance

Related: Introduction To The Inca Sacred Valley: Home Of Machu Picchu, Cusco, And The Heart Of The Empire

Other Inca Attractions In Ecuador

Rumicucho:

One convenient thing about the Inca ruins of Rumicucho is that they are only a short drive from the Ecodorian capital of Quito. It is one of the most visited sites in the country and the ruins are believed to represent both Inca and Pre-Inca peoples.

It was reputed both a military site and a place of worship later on.

Agua Blanca:

Agua Blanca is located on the Pacific side of the country in the Machalilla National Park. It represents on of the last remains of the Monteño culture in Ecuador. The site also have a small archeological museum.

Todos los Santos:

The Todos los Santos site began with Pre-Inca cultures before it became part of the Inca sphere. It was hidden under a Spanish flour mill for years and was only discovered in the 1970s.