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  • BOLIVIA CUSTOMS VACATION

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WHAT YOU WILL SEE

The remains of a Pre-Incan civilization. This monumental city in the Bolivian highlands 13,000 feet above sea level and one of 754 recognized World Heritage Sites, Tiahuanaco is surrounded by mountain ranges, with Lake Titicaca on its west side (though not visible). The massive, solid blocks of a stone not indigenous to the flat plateau give rise to the site's nickname, "the Stonehenge of the Americas"--and, over the years, they have given rise to some other worldly theories of how the site came to be. The museum contains most of the amazing things built by the Tiahuanaco people, pictures aren't allowed but sometimes can be taken. Something interesting is in the museum: a skeleton was recovered that is about 13,000 years old. This place is quite magical.

HISTORY

Tiahuanaco (or Tiahuanaco) was the capital of the Tiahuanaco Empire between c. 200 - 1000 CE and is situated in the Titicaca basin. At an altitude of 3,850 meters (12,600 ft) it was the highest city in the ancient world and had a peak population of between 30,000 and 70,000 residents. The Tiahuanaco Empire, at its largest extent, dominated the altiplano plains and stretched from the Peruvian coast to northern Bolivia and included parts of northern Chile. Tiahuanaco is located near the southern (Bolivian) shores of the sacred Lake Titicaca and it would become the center of one of the most important of all Andean cultures. The architecture, sculpture, roads, and empire management of Tiahuanaco would exert a significant influence on the later Inca civilization.

CULTURE

Because the indigenous groups that live in the highlands today claim this site as their own, many tourists believe Tiahuanaco was an Incan, Aymara, or Quechua site; however, the Tiahuanaco culture, unrelated to them, actually inhabited this region and built this city hundreds and possibly thousands of years prior to their arrival. The Incas entered the region later, conquering and assimilating other cultures. Because the cultures mixed, Aymaras and Quechuas today refer to themselves as descendants of the Incas, although they were not originally of Incan descent.

GEOGRAPHY

The Bolivian altiplano is part of the meseta collao, an extensive area of high plateau that crosses Bolivia, surrounds Lake Titicaca and goes into the southern region of Peru.

Despites faming averse climatic conditions, this area saw the flowering of several Aymara kingdoms and Tiahuanaco culture. In addition it was the place where the llama and the potato, among many other species, were domesticated.

Tiahuanaco represents the greatest megalithic architectural achievement of pre-Inca South America. Today it is one of the top tourist attractions in Bolivia.