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Posted by on Feb 28, 2012 in Argentina, Explore, South America

Fortress of Tilcara – Argentina

Fortress of Tilcara – Argentina

Welcome to Pukara, which means fortress in the Queshua language. 

Pukara is not your typical fortress. It is not surrounded by walls or ramparts, but instead, it is almost inaccessible due to its location up on a hill. (Or was, now a days without anyone enforcing protection you can walk up the hill unhindered)

In the Humahuaca Ravine, traces of the ancient population date back to 10,000 BC. They belong to hunters and harvesters who domesticated cattle gradually becoming farmers. The land is fertile and location perfectly nestled next to mountains providing fresh water. The massive occupation of Pukara occurred in 1000 AD and continued during the Inca period until the Hispanic occupation in 1594, which coincides with the arrest of the curaca (chief) of Tilcara, Viltipoco.

The citizens of Pukara were divided into many groupings; Omaguacacas, Tilcaras, Fiscaras, Uquias; but were all members of the same ethnic group. The language they spoke remains unknown. The mystery of these people and the diversity of their groupings makes the area hold a more mystical feeling. The wind blowing around you as you stand perched atop this hill with an unhindered 360 degree view. You can understand both the strategic and the aesthetic reasons for building a home here.

In the fortress of Tilcara the buildings are made of stone with the roofs made of clay and straw which were pressed on thistle struts. The buildings occupied the majority of the territory in the fortress and were connected by paths. Paths were made of double stone walls there were filled with earth and gravel. The pathways are winding and outlined with rocks. From the top you can see the entire design of the fortress. All the paths interconnecting to each house and section. The cactus add a deeper perspective to the shape and design. But I don’t think those cactus were in their homes originally – Nobody wants to run into a cactus while trying to find their way to the bathroom during the night!

Apart from the buildings and housing areas, you can locate the stockyards which were used for llamas, the necropolis, and a religious building. This was an entire city. This was a home.

The Tilcaras were sheperds and farmers that grew corn, potatos, beans, pumpkins, etc. They practiced stockbreeding of llamas which were used as pack animals and for the supply of wool and meat.

The Tilcaras made clothes from the wools and skins of vicuna and llama. The wool was spun in manual spindles, dyed with natural tinctures and wove in looms.

Visit Tilcara to experience this Strategic and Aesthetic location of a city.