Tiwanaku I: last moments of blue skies in the Heart of an Empire.

petrous obsession

Petrous obsession

Last year I went one day to Bolivia, living in the frontier has its advantages so actually to me is quite cheap to go to La Paz, the Bolivian capital, than to Lima, the Peruvian capital. Practically is like use public transportation, it’s in customs where one loses a little of time.

I wanted to go to Tiwanaku. Its the capital city of an old empire whose history probably spans from 2500 years ago to the year 1000 AD. Similar to Greece when it was under the attack of the People of the Sea it disappeared under the pressure of invaders from the south, the empire ended divided in several kingdoms and it seems that the invaders adopted the culture of the invaded. It’s probable that the Inca nobility would migrated or could have had bonds with the remains of that empire but the history is hard to tell. The tough weather and the extension of the empire made possible technological advances in agriculture, environmental control, architecture and metallurgy.

Even the name is not the original one, Spaniards asked to people the name of that city but because they couldn’t understand their languages they say just that was a dry shore, and is what is called now. The same happened with the name Peru because our empire was called Tahuantinsuyu but instead they used a word from the north to say river that was what they seemed to ask us when they pointed to a river in the frontier.

long and powerful walls

long and powerful walls

Tiwanaku has several temples and sections, I hadn’t time to visit the museum and Pumapunku (in quechua means Lion’s Gate) because I want to know with calm, so instead to run to see a glimpse of everything I took my time to see and appreciate better a little.



Kalasasaya is a temple that covers an hectare and in its top has the Gateway of the Sun and two monoliths.

a flower for the builders

a flower for the builders

See the photograph above, if you see the two holes in the extremes of the tilted stone those are the “female” side of an ashlar to connect with two “male” protuberances in the next ashlar. That technique would evolve across the centuries till the refined perfection of Imperial Style in the Inca Empire.

wood intruder

wood intruder

yellow america

Yellow America

In Aymara we call to our America “Aywi Yäla” I have to clarify that to English speakers America is the country of USA and well, that’s correct, instead to us in the South America is the name for the lands from the Chilean and Argentinian side to the north of Canada. I read that they don’t use America because South America and North America are different continents but I think then they wouldn’t recognize Europe or Asia but just Eurasia. In any case are different traditions.

kalasasaya sky

Kalasasaya’s sky

waiting rains

waiting rains

The dry lips of a gargoyle (above).

old man

old man

vandalism and desecration

vandalism and desecration

The figure above corresponds to the monolith “Fraile,” I don’t know why some people would damage it, there are some letters in Spanish language. Perhaps children from schools, perhaps just tourists in automatic mode, that don’t think the gravity of their actions.

Last moments of sun
face of a stone

face of a stone

Clouds of storm were traveling faster. It was clear that the sunny day was coming to an end.

wind and clouds

wind and clouds



The Gateway of the Sun

the future is at our back

the future is at our back

This threshold probably was part of a bigger temple. It’s believed to be related with astronomy. According to my traditions as native the only thing I can say for sure is that it represents a Lord of great power surrounded with a big amount of sacred symbols that multiply the meaning of his/her greatness. As an architect probably it was laminated with decorated metal plates and the door was not open but it had a wooden door to seal the interior. If I could get its original location I could calculate if it coincides with utilitarian sun positions, but it’s in a different position so if you read that it marks the sun as seen nine thousands of years ago it is based in distorted data.

puerta del sol desnudo

Puerta del Sol desnudo

In the holes there are marks like crosses, usually they are used to set metal, a frame perhaps.

door to another world

door to another world

lord pure and simple

lord, pure and simple

More clouds
a temple in the nature

a temple in the nature

happy kalasasaya

happy Kalassasaya

mind in the sky

mind in the sky

The photography above corresponds to the Ponce Stela. It is the frontier between the blue day and the storm clouds.The next week I’ll publish the stone temples under the clouds. But as a highlander I knew that it wasn’t to rain so I keep walking.

man and rock marching

man and rock marching

22 thoughts on “Tiwanaku I: last moments of blue skies in the Heart of an Empire.

  1. Your photos for this temple are terrific! Especially the “Puerto Del Sol Desnudo”. It really does look like a portal to another world.
    You’re so lucky that you can just strut into Bolivia so easily. Americans (or should I say North Americans) have to pay a lot of money to get into Bolivia. I hope that you post more about your trip there :)

    1. Thanks Melissa ^_^! I titled it that way (Naked Gateway of the Sun) because its surface once probably had metallic ornamentation but perhaps when the people of the south came all was vanished.
      Americans is okey ;-) I say that we have just different traditions so you can say that you are American (and technically is correct) and I can say that I’m Americano :D, I feel bad to argue for a name :P I just wanted to write it to explain to US citizens or Americans why I titled that way the spot in the rock.
      Said that we are all lucky I think, I would love to visit Utah (the national parks, not the Mormons XD) and see the amazing landscapes there, Yellowstone, the Golden Gate, the deserts of Arizona, the forests of Seattle, the artificial landscape in concrete and steel of New York and a long etcetera, but we have to pay a lot of money ;-)
      Good night sweet American n_n (although saying that I feel like Europeans in movies XP)

      1. There’s so much in my own country that I still haven’t seen yet (you mentioned a few). Maybe I shouldn’t take take these things for granted. I always figure that I’ll have time to see them, but who knows how much time any of us really have….not to get too morbid.
        It is a shame that it’s so expensive for you to visit my country. I can tell you that Monument Valley and the national parks in the southwest are worth the price of admission :)
        Good night! You can sound European if you want XD

      2. We don’t know it so we’ll have to try that it’s to be a good time. There aren’t so much people that can say to have lived in so exotic countries, which is different to just take a tour. As I wrote in this post I don’t care to know less than others when I visit a place but I want to know well that little.
        Who knows, someday I could go there ;-) time will say.
        Thanks for your time Melissa from the city of the four rivers :-)

  2. It looks impressive even if a lot has been displaced, and the mountain backdrop to the site is beautiful. The colour of the stones is so warm. It must be cool to have architect eyes when seeing these ancient structures, and have insights that tourists usually don’t have.

    1. Well, at least tourists without architectonic education XD I consider myself a tourist more, I’m sure an artist tourist could say another things, even a lawyer could say a word or two about meanings. The next week I think the post is going to be more enjoyable for you because it has a lot of sun in the ground and big clouds in the sky ;-)

  3. What a beautiful location. I love the pictures and the story. It’s always worth it to visit as much as possible. Helps us understand a culture, so much better. Thanks for the virtual tour!

  4. Good decision not to run, Francis. Good for us… because now we can see all these stunning details you have seen with your eyes and captured with your camera. (Looking at the photos, I have the feeling they we captured with your Fuji, but may be I am wrong. Sorry Sony.) I think “Yellow America” is awesome, followed by “Face of a stone” and all the other cool images. Again you opened up a door to another world. The warm colors of stone, the blue and dramatic skies and the green of the “ichu” create a special composition of the remains of an old empire. The achievements the made were (are) fantastic, if I consider when they were made. Thanks for this impressive journey through places and time. Reinhold

    1. Actually I used both the Fuji and the Sony. The Fuji captured amazing details and help me to get long exposures without noise. It was like an experiment because I wanted to see how much difference was between the 2005 Sony and the 2012 Fujifilm. There is indeed a difference but being careful the Sony still can fight. The workers see me as a crazy man :/ but well, we have to do, without harm anybody else, what we have to do.
      I like the shots you mentioned because I wanted to forget that it was a touristic place but I wanted to see as a compositional example :-)
      There are people saying that it could be from a megalithic Empire from twelve thousands years before but I find their evidence lacking arguments. Someday the studies will reveal the details of its age.
      Thanks for seeing this lost empire with me Reinhold.

  5. Very interesting to know more about that place ! I remembered you posting a similar picture, because I was very interested by the dry walls. These explanations made my day !

    1. Actually I put the explanation thinking in your question in that post so thank you ;-) In the next post I’ll write more details. For example that Empire had an area similar to the France or Spain of these days.
      Take care, Francis.

      1. Yes, of course :-) My blog is a diary and not a travel guide, but I’m happy to add data to the readers that can find it useful so your questions are truly welcome kind explorer ;-) Nice afternoon (or evening there?) for you too :-)

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