The Mystical Inca Ruins Of Moray

Six concentric terraces surround a central circular ‘arena’ connected by a series of stone ‘steps’ fixed to the retaining walls in a radial pattern, mimicking the rays of the sun.  Six more surround them in an elliptical shape and another eight stepped terraces at the perimeter, span a portion of the narrow end of the ellipse, almost like a viewing gallery. There are more such elliptical terraced hollows adjoining this one!

Were these ancient amphitheatres? Places for religious rituals? Or just brilliantly designed agricultural laboratories?

Scholars and engineers have long speculated about the significance of these surreal terraces in the Centro Arquelogico Moray – close to Cusco, Peru – ever since it was first photographed in 1931.

The ‘agricultaral research station’ seems to be the most generally accepted theory, based on the remarkable features of the site. The fact that the lowest level (each level is about two meters deep) is perfectly drained and never gets flooded even after incessant rains. The amazingly engineered ‘micro climates’ in each level, with temperatures varying upto 15°C (27°F) between the top and bottom (apparently for experiments with different varieties of plants) And the elaborate, concealed irrigation channels.

But…….doubts remain.

Why is this located in an area that has calcified soil and gets the least rainfall?

Why is there no sign of the presence of other dwellings that would have been necessary to house staff working at an agricultural research center of this scale?

Why does an agricultural site need the astounding acoustics that exist here?

How did this – the only Inca monument that is not a building – survive practically intact, through the centuries?

Why do the Quechuan people congregate here annually to perform rituals in honour of Pachamama or mother earth on the solstices, as they have been doing for centuries (as indicated in reports by early Christian priests in Cusco)?

Why were there carved rocks or  ‘Huacas‘ usually found in locations where offerings are made?

Could this have been a place of religious worship and the water chanelled for ritualistic use? Could some channels have been used to pipe ‘Chica’ or corn beer as offering on special days?

And what on earth was that strange phenomenon in the sky directly above our heads, only visible from the centre of the lowest circle? A kind of glowing halo with a darker center (that we would have missed if it weren’t for our guide)!!! Couldn’t capture it with my camera though.

There are no answers, and till we solve these riddles we will have to settle for the most probable assumption for the original purpose of this mystifying engineering marvel.

Until next time…..happy travels, no matter where life takes you!

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on

92 thoughts on “The Mystical Inca Ruins Of Moray

  1. I’m curious what your speculation is since you’ve been there.

    It seems to me that such an elaborate design would include stairs if it was intended for human access, but the stairs there don’t look like part of the original structure. Aren’t these levels like a foot taller than the average Incan man was? And why would someone intelligent enough to design this build irrigation where there is no water? If this were an agricultural site, shouldn’t there be a) more of them, b) further evidence of agriculture, like tools, buildings, rich soil, and c) some benefit to the design that would still be in use today? I’d have to see it for myself to try to guess what I think it really is, but it sure seems like there is a big piece of the puzzle completely missing.

    Cool photos and questions.

    1. Yes Anne, and I, like you, don’t buy the theory that this is an agriculture research station for the very same reasons! In fact scholars are deeply divided over this. Hope someone can solve the mystery for us soon.
      Thank you for your interest in my post and apologies for the late response….still several posts behind 😀

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