Lake Titicaca is a dying sea, at 3,812 metres (12,507 ft) of altitude. When the capital city of the old Empire, called today Tiwanaku, wasn’t history but a powerful city it had a port near the lake one millennium ago. Today the lake is fifteen kilometres (approximately nine miles) far away, and the city is a broken jigsaw with blogs of different periods and styles.
The empire dominated the Peruvian south, parts of the Argentinian and Chilean north, and the Bolivian west, closer to its end in the tenth century. Basically it was an empire of the highlands and the closer coast. After their fall kingdoms would occupy its place until the emerging of Inca Empire in Qosqo (Cuzco) in the fifteenth century.
But not everything is history. After the Spanish invasion we still conserve our traditions, etiquette, way of thought, despite the contemporary governments the language, actually the people culture. The most damaged part was the higher culture in science and arts. But that is a story for another day.
Kalasasaya covers an hectare and parts are closed due to archeological investigation, but still it’s a beautiful place. The soldiers, priests, government, and powerful men are replaced by archeologists, local workers and tourists. There is a little town near with hotels. The entrance fee is cheap, I think as a foreigner for the whole Tiwanaku I paid more or less eighty Bolivians, what translates to not even fifteen dollars. Almost nothing to see ancestors.
The sky is amazing, isn’t it?
This is Ponce stela, named that way in honor of the archeologist that discovered it, Carlos Ponce Sanginés. As you can see it has its shoulder marked with a cross. That means that it was known by Spaniards and that was a way to practice an exorcism in the Lord. Fortunately it was buried but not destroyed.
I left Kalasasaya to see Akapana pyramid.
Akapana although looks like a hill actually it is a Pyramid. According to Wikipedia a Spaniard called Oyaldeburo destroyed it in the eighteenth century searching treasures, unconscious that he was destroying the architectonic treasure. Originally it was finished with ashlars and there was a temple in shape of Chakana in its top (a Chakana is a sacred symbol in the shape of a cross with arms of the same length) and sculptures. The adobe shape is a modern work of reconstruction. I prefer it that way, so I know that is original and what an hypothesis.
The wind was stronger. I had saw, besides me, five tourists more. But with the wind I didn’t see them anymore.
The wardens told me that the time was over. I walked the road to the highway to take a bus to come back to Peru. A last glimpse to the ruins showed me a rainbow, someday I could get back.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The dry lips of a gargoyle (above).
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
Clouds of storm were traveling faster. It was clear that the sunny day was coming to an end.
The Gateway of the Sun
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.
In the holes there are marks like crosses, usually they are used to set metal, a frame perhaps.
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.
Soft rain washing La Paz city, slowing down its time. A heartbeat lasting long seconds, clinging to the existence.
A bouquet of wild yellow flowers in the Temple of Kalasasaya in the Bolivian side of our highlands.
Memories of forgotten empires.
I was mesmerized with the light patterns in this shadowed wall. Like the light would feel attraction by the shadow, the myth of the Sun and Moon fulfilling finally their passion.
In my travels to La Paz I like to see the city but usually I don’t enjoy the buildings. The architecture is made professionally but they are copies of the buildings made in USA or Europe, that are quite excellent but to the reality of USA or Europe. Actually I noticed a massive presence of the architectural school of Modernism that has logic in the crowded countries of Europe after the twentieth century wars, but not in our countries in South America that have a third of the population and at least the double in area of those countries. Even more our societies have a happiness in colors and shapes, modernism in America is like use a disguise of Chinese; the modernism in Brazil worked because Niemeyer filled it with a honest Brazilian spirit of movement and music.
So I felt a big amazement when I saw the colorful building in the centre of the photograph. This condominium was designed by the talented architect Priscila Claure. Although I cannot do an architectural analysis without be in its interior I can say that the exterior and its urban presence is quite interesting and beautiful, it has proportion, scale and harmony. It has an inspiration in Piet Mondrian paintings, but in an urban scale that transmit correctly the happiness of our shared culture in the Andean Plateau where traditionally our clean buildings in time of parties were “dressed” with bold colors. Usually is said that we in architecture get the most of our creativity at 40’s, in the moment of the design the architect had 22 years old and designed the most memorable building I ever saw in La Paz. I’d love to see more of her production.
Certainly to the untrained eye it could resemble something of MVRDV’s Mirador Tower in Madrid, but that is far from reality, both buildings are quite different because the one in Spain is like a radiography of the differences in functions. In this Bolivian building instead there is a celebration of life and an optimism that says that to be authentic to yourself you don’t need to copy other models.
Dreamy echoes in blue.
I went some hours to La Paz, into the heart of Bolivia. I decided to be in a cheap hotel to walk a bit the city because usually I just go for a pair of hours. It was the summer of 2014, exactly in January so the heat was a bit strong, although people in the streets as the performer in the photograph was quite covered so I guess he was a foreigner, Chilean perhaps.
The photographs include views from dusk to night and a bit from the morning. I hope you find some akin to your spirit.
Towards the south is the more contemporary architecture of La Paz. There are several Bolivians of German ancestors that enriched the culture in that place with buildings of peculiar shapes. In a certain way they are like the old Bolivians (common ancestors with us Peruvians, in fact I’m half Bolivian) in the respect to the nature and the harmony of buildings integrated to the natural environment.
The old colonial downtown was under moonlight, giving the stones part of that sense of old time. I saw a lot of people waiting for public transport. I took some photographs with care to not seen because certainly I don’t look as a tourist.
I think the city looks better in comparison to my visits as a child.
A good bye in the morning
Next day I had to be in Tiwanaku, so I just walked a few hours in the early morning and said good bye to the city.
And that was all. I saw a parade or protest, something usual when I was a kid but that surprised me this time. Me and my generation generally are apolitical due to the vast amount of people that used to search power with (bad) politics instead of real work. Actually there were so many protests years ago in La Paz that you can see that people is indifferent to them now. As a foreigner I didn’t approximate to them to investigate the reason of the parade or protest (haha, they could think I’m a Peruvian James Bond spying) so I took my backpack and went once more to the highway asphalt.
In “Illimani’s time to rest” the big building is Alto Obrajes’s Olympic size swimming pool designed by Arch. Ricardo Pérez Alcalá.
In “Concrete twilight” the building is the Hotel Radisson Plaza La Paz designed by Argentinian atelier SEPRA.
The partial view of the bridge in “ha!” corresponds to Pasarela Pérez Velasco designed by Arch. Diego Marquez Burgos and Arch. José Marquez Pereira
In “Red car goes to the yellow house and yellow bus to the red house” the church is La Recoleta designed by Arch. Eulalio Morales.