Built on top of a high mountain, it is the most important archaeological site in the Peruvian mountainous jungle. It is presented to the visitor as an impenetrable place, surrounded by cliffs on three of its four sides. Built in an area of beautiful landscapes that combines the heights of the Andes and the Amazon jungle, the Chachapoyas created an incomparable spectacle.
It is possible that its name, Kuelap, derives from the deformation of the word “Cónlap”, which is the name of a town that inhabited that region according to Spanish colonial documents dated in the year 1591.
Kuelap was built and inhabited by the Chachapoyas (1000 to 1400 years AC), a nation formed by a group of curacazgos, which is the political organization of those ruled by Curacas. They have left us many beautiful monuments along the river Utcubamba
According to the researchers, the founders of Kuelap began its construction during the Late Intermediate period (1100 to 1450 AC) and it stayed in operation until the next period (Late Horizon), time in which they lived under the ruling of the Incas of Cusco. Things remained unchanged until 1532, the year in which the Spanish Diego de Alvarado, after conquering the Incas, moved all the inhabitants of this site and surroundings to a new city.
The Spanish conquerors had as a policy of control to move and gather the conquered population to new cities called “Indian reductions”, located in low and easily accessible areas of the valleys.
Kuelap is located in the upper part of the Utcubamba river valley, close to the Kuelap village in the Tingo district, Luya Province, Amazonas Department (Peru) at 3000 meters over sea level. It is formed by two gigantic overlapped artificial platforms, on which a city that covers an area of approximately 450 hectares was built
The retaining walls that form the previously mentioned platforms give the impression of being a gigantic wall that protects this site since it reaches 30 meters height in some stretches
Within its “walls”, Kuelap houses 505 houses, most of them circular. Outside the city, at least 198 more homes were built, totaling more than 700 buildings.
Kuelap can be considered a fortress because it is built on high platforms, with high stone walls and with very narrow accesses. The main material for construction in Kuelap is unpolished edged limestone blocks, which presents different qualities of finishes. The most elaborate are those of the ceremonial constructions.
Inside Kuelap there are about 505 structures considered as houses, which are distributed in different areas and levels. Most of them have a circular shape, except for 4 that have a rectangular plan and one that has a square plan. The houses with a circular plan usually have a 7-meter diameter on average and friezes on the exterior face. The facade design includes geometric figures formed by smaller stones and that tend to present rhombuses. Also, evidence has been reported that the interior was plastered with clay and later painted.
The journey by car from RANGRA WASI to Nuevo Tingo (Kuelap cable cars) takes 50 minutes on a paved road.