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BO-!Tia-Sun-Gate-s.jpg (18679 bytes)  Tiahuanaco
About Lake Titicaca
Puno Sun Island Moon Island
Copacabana Tiahuanaco Inca Utama
  La Paz  
Posada del Inca Sun Island
The Andes
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Located 72 km (44 miles) west of La Paz, Tiahuanaco sits in a long, desolate wind-swept valley that today barely provides a poverty level subsistence for its inhabitants.

But 2,000 years ago it is believed that this valley was one great agricultural area and via an immense system of Sukakollu (raised fields) fed the equivalent of all of Bolivia today and allowed for surpluses, freeing up part of the population to feed huge armies. It is thought that Tiahuanaco was a great imperial capital of an immense empire that stretched from Ecuador to northern Chile.

From Bolivia, Footprints Handbook:
"The ancient city of Tiahuanaco must have been an impressive sight to visitors with its skyline dominated by great pyramids, temples and palaces. The two largest edifices, the Kalasasaya Temple and the Akapana Pyramid, were 200 m long and over 20 m high. They were constructed from massive blocks of andesite weighing more than 150 tons that were ferried on reed boats from quarries across Lake Titicaca. The exterior of the buildings was decorated with intricately-carved stone friezes and bas-relief work, much of it covered with thin plates of gold or painted in hues of blue, red, gold and black. The overall effect must have been dazzling.

"Tiahuanaco was the longest-running empire of all the Andean civilizations. But sometime after AD 1,000 it all ended. The empire collapsed, the raised fields were abandoned and no one really knows why.

"While not visually pleasing to the eye like the more famous Machu Picchu, built by much younger but better known Inca civilization, Tiahuanaco is indeed impressive. You can visit it on a half day or full day (with box lunch) tour out of La Paz or en route to or from the Lake if you have your own transportation.