Horca del Inca, Copacabana

The Horca del Inca ("Inca Gallows") in Copacabana is an interesting trilithic structure used for astronomical purposes by the pre-Incan Chiripa people.

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History of Horca del Inca

Despite its name, the Horca del Inca was built by the pre-Inca Chiripa culture in the 14th century BC as an astronomical observatory. Rituals on the winter soltice June 21 were also held here.

When the Spanish came along, they destroyed some of the site in the hopes of finding gold hidden there. Noting its resemblence to a gallows and mistakenly associating it with the Incas, they gave the monument its present name.

What to See at Horca del Inca

The trilithic (three-rock) structure resembles a gallows, hence its popular name. Between the two naturally upright rocks, the Chiripa builders placed seven horizontal rock slabs in precise positions that would enable observation of the heavenly bodies. On the equinoxes, the sun can be viewed as it reflects off the rocks.

There is only one cross-piece left in position today, thanks to the Spanish, and unfortunately the rocks have been decorated with graffiti. However, the ancient site still has plenty of ambience as well as fine views of Lake Titicaca and the town of Copacabana.

Getting There

The site is located on a rocky hill in the southeast part of town (see map). Hiking to the Horca del Inca is only for those of reasonable fitness and comfortable shoes, as the path is steep and rough. Boys hanging around by the base will usually offer to show the way for about $1; it is worth taking them up on it.

Quick Facts on Horca del Inca

Site Information
Names:Horca del Inca · Inca Gallows
Country:Bolivia
Categories:astronomical alignments; ruins; megalithic monuments
Status: ruins
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:16.171373° S, 69.084966° W
Address:Copacabana, Bolivia
Lodging:View hotels near Horca del Inca
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

References

  1. La Horca del Inca - Copacabana Bolivia
  2. Attractions in Copacabana - Frommer's South America

More Information

© Gianluca Nastasi
© Gianluca Nastasi

Map of Horca del Inca, Copacabana

Below is a location map and aerial view of Horca del Inca. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.