Tarawasi: On the Inca Road

Tarawasi: On the Inca Road

Perched in the scenic Andean foothills, Tarawasi stands as a remarkable testament to the architectural prowess and cultural legacy of the Inca civilization. Located on the ancient Inca Road, this site played a vital role in the administration and ceremonial life of the empire.

The Site of Tarawasi

Location and Background:

  • Tarawasi is situated near the town of Limatambo, about 75 kilometers west of Cusco, the former capital of the Inca Empire.
  • The name "Tarawasi" is derived from the Quechua words tara (a type of tree) and wasi (house), meaning "House of the Tara Tree."

Historical Significance:

  • The site was strategically located along the Qhapaq Ñan, or Great Inca Road, which connected the empire's vast territories.
  • It served as a tambo (way station) and administrative center for managing the surrounding region.
Tarawasi: On the Inca Road

Architectural Marvels

Precision Stonework:

  • The walls at Tarawasi feature distinctive polygonal masonry, showcasing the Inca's precise stone-cutting techniques.
  • Stones are carefully fitted together without mortar, creating a sturdy and aesthetically pleasing structure.

Curved Terrace:

  • One of the most striking features of Tarawasi is the curved terrace, known locally as the ushnu.
  • This ceremonial platform was used for religious rituals, agricultural rites, and as a viewing platform for important events.

Other Structures:

  • The site also includes remnants of additional terraces, canals, and stone foundations, indicating its agricultural and administrative functions.

Role in Inca Society

Ceremonial Significance:

  • The ushnu was a key feature in Inca ceremonial life, serving as a sacred platform for offerings to the gods and the sun.
  • Rituals performed here likely included prayers for successful harvests and blessings for travelers along the Inca Road.

Agricultural Hub:

  • Tarawasi was also an agricultural center, managing the production and distribution of crops in the region.
  • The surrounding terraces allowed efficient cultivation of maize and other staples.

On the Inca Road

Qhapaq Ñan:

  • The Great Inca Road, or Qhapaq Ñan, was an extensive network of roads that linked the far corners of the empire.
  • Tarawasi served as an important stop along the road, providing supplies, shelter, and information for travelers.

Colonial Influence:

  • After the Spanish conquest, Tarawasi was repurposed as a colonial estate.
  • Spanish colonial architecture can still be seen in the region, blending with the Inca stone foundations.

Visiting Tarawasi


  • Tarawasi is easily accessible from Cusco, making it a popular stop for travelers en route to other attractions like Choquequirao and the Sacred Valley.
  • Guided tours provide historical context and highlight the site's architectural features.

Nearby Attractions:

  • The nearby archaeological site of Limatambo and the impressive Apurímac River canyon offer additional attractions for visitors.


Tarawasi stands as a testament to the Inca civilization's architectural ingenuity and cultural sophistication. Its strategic location on the Inca Road, combined with its stunning stonework and ceremonial significance, make it a fascinating destination for history enthusiasts and travelers alike. As one of the lesser-known gems of the Inca Empire, Tarawasi invites exploration and offers a glimpse into the grandeur of a lost civilization.