The Baños del Inca (Inca Baths) at Coyoctor

Several important Inca-era ruins are in the Cuenca area.  Two Who Trek took a bus trip to see one of these, the Baños del Inca (Inca Baths) at Coyoctor.  The Baños del Inca is a smaller but no less  historically significant archeological site, compared to others in this part of Ecuador.

The name is a bit misleading.  The site was actually created by the Cañari people, who settled in the area over one thousand years ago.  In the early 15th century, the Incas conquered the Cañaris and absorbed them and their way of life into the Incan culture.  The Incas then modified the Coyoctor site to meet the Inca ritual of water purification.  Collectively, the site includes worship of the moon deity of the Cañari and the sun deity of the Inca.

The site has suffered from other changes over the years.  For many years, it was part of the farm owned by the Carrasco family who built two large dwellings upon the top of the ruins.  Those houses, now over a century old, still stand and are used as an interpretive center.

Two Who Trek hopped aboard a tourist bus in Cuenca.  The bus then headed to the northeast, traveling along the Pan-American Highway.

A view from the Pan-American Highway.

A view from the Pan-American Highway

The hour and a half journey took us through picturesque valleys and over mountains, through cities and towns, and finally ended in the quaint village of El Tambo.

El Tambo, Ecuador

Beautiful downtown El Tambo

At the museum complex in the center of town we boarded the Ecuadorian Railroad rail car described in an earlier post.   After a short, slow, fifteen minute ride, we were at the Baños del Inca ruins

The walk from the railroad to the ruins site.

The walk from the railroad to the ruins site

Our first overall view of the site.

Our first overall view of the site

It wouldn't be an archeological site without llamas.

It wouldn’t be an archeological site without llamas

We approached the site with our guide, stopping at the base of the great stone structure.  Here we learned about what is thought to be the uses of various parts of the community.

Seat carved into stone.  The king used this to preside over rituals.

Seat carved into stone. The king used this to preside over rituals

A closer view of the stone throne.

A closer view of the stone throne
Stone steps lead from the ritual area.

Stone steps lead from the ritual area

From the base, we moved around the site to the top.  The first area we came to contained the storage and living areas.

Storage and living areas.

Storage and living areas

The baths area.

The baths area

Maria, our guide, explained the uses of the area to us.  Unfortunately, she only spoke Spanish and most of us had only had a couple of days of classes at this point.  Carlos, one of the teachers at our school accompanied us and translated.

Our Spanish-speaking guide, Maria.

Our Spanish-speaking guide, Maria

The area above the stone throne, also used for rituals.

The area above the stone throne, also used for rituals

Here is a closer view of the baths area.  An intricate chiseling pattern allowed the water to enter the chambers.  This is the place where it is believed that Inca warriors underwent a water ritual of purification.

Baños del Inca at Coyoctor (66)

A closer view of the baths area

Somehow, something was lost in the translation.  The guide told how the Virgins assisted in warrior baths, and Joe’s thoughts wandered so he missed the rest of the explanation.

A really close view of the baths.

A really close view of the baths

From there we moved to the houses built by the Carrasco family. Originally this area had been used for rituals and by lookouts watching for approaching danger.

Stone steps leading to houses

Stone steps leading to houses

One of the two houses had been used for cooking and had a display of meal preparation artifacts.

One of the two houses had been used for cooking and had a display of meal preparation artifacts
Another house has dioramas depicting cultural events.  This display is about three festivals.

Another house has dioramas depicting cultural events. This display is about three festivals.

 A view from a windo of the house.

A view from a window of the house

The view from the courtyard between houses.

The view from the courtyard between houses

A more recent addition is this house represents the homes used by the Cañari people.  Inside is a diorama of the archeological site.

Home like that used by Cañari people

Home like that used by Cañari people

We then left the Inca Baths, returned by train to El Tambo, hopped on the bus, and went to a restaurant for an almuerzo.  What a great way to spend an afternoon!

 

 

Categories: andean, archeological, blog, Cuenca, ecuador, photos, railroad, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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