Before I went to Peru, I never gave the Incas much thought beyond, “They built Machu Picchu so they must have been pretty cool”. Now that I’ve been and have seen numerous Incan ruins and sites, I’ve come to appreciate just how amazing and innovative they were. If it weren’t for the rampaging Spanish invaders who arrived less than 100 years after the inception of the Incan Empire, who knows what more the Incans could have accomplished! One of the Incan sites I visited in Peru is a favourite not because of grandeur or beauty – but because of its uniqueness.
Aliens had landed?
No, but you could be forgiven for thinking that if you had been the one to discover concentric circles in the middle of a field. And that is precisely what Moray is. It is an archaeological site in the Sacred Valley near(ish) Cusco and near Maras with its salineras. And I wasn’t kidding about the circles; it really is a site of circles within circles!
Okay, so what are these circles?
It is believed by archaeologists that these circles were experimental agricultural terraces! Okay, before you get disappointed by the banality, think about it for a minute: the Incans would have built these terraces to experiment with crops in order to determine what grows best at what temperature. Yup – the design means that (wind and sun dependent) the temperature difference between the top and the bottom can be as much as 15°C! It is even believed that they would have not only been studying microclimatic conditions on crops but also experimenting with the development of crop hybrids.
Yup. I think this site and what it represents is really really fascinating. It doesn’t hurt that it is visually impressive, too. The depth of the site is about 150meters and it rarely ever floods due to a hidden drainage system within the circles. There are staircases along the sides of each circle; however, you’re not supposed to go down them, unfortunately. Something a few of us visitors didn’t realize until the guard started yelling. Oops.
If you’re ever in the Sacred Valley region or visiting Cusco, I highly recommend checking out this site. It will only take about an hour to explore but its uniqueness makes it well worth a visit.