The South America we know and love today is very different from the South America that existed in pre-Hispanic times. Frankly, those Spanish colonial conquerors and settlers have a lot to answer for because when they moved in, we lost a lot of historical artifacts, places, and people who used to be native to those lands. That loss has left us with a lot of mysteries. There are temples, buildings, etchings, and inscriptions all over South America that defy all explanation, and even the things we do know are like jigsaw pieces. We know a little about them, but we’re a long way from knowing everything!
Our fascination with the cultures and civilizations who used to live on the continent are laid bare for all to see. Check out any online slots website of your choosing, and you’ll see online casino UK with names like “Aztec Blox,” “Solar Temple,” “Aztec Bonanza,” and “Amazing Aztecs.” What does that tell you? Well, quite possibly it might say that there are too many online slots companies trying to dig the same well, but it should also say that there’s an enormous audience of people attracted to the enigma of the Aztec culture. There were far more civilizations living on South American lands than just the Aztecs, though, and not all of them have been immortalized in online slots.
If you’re a traveler with an appreciation for mysteries and history, you could spend a lifetime exploring the ruins and relics of South America. You’ll probably need a little help when it comes to finding the best sites, though, and that’s what this article is for! Here are a few of the most mysterious and enchanting South American locations you may wish to visit.
The fact that we’ve listed Machu Picchu in Peru first probably won’t surprise you. Even people who don’t have a keen interest in history ought to have heard of Machu Picchu – it’s a World Heritage Site, and it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Peru. You can take a train to get there, but we urge you to consider making the effort to hike there instead. It will take you a full view, but the views are spectacular, and the experience waiting for you at the top of the Andean peaks makes it worthwhile. This ancient citadel was probably built during the 15th century and was just as probably built by the Inca. Most experts believe it was a form of solar observatory, but we don’t know for sure, and we might never gain that knowledge. It probably survived the Spanish invasion because it was so high up in the mountains that the Spanish never even knew it was there – but their loss is our gain.
Cueva de las Manos
This painted cave looks like a modern art exhibition, but there’s nothing modern about it. In fact, the painted hands that cover almost every surface inside this marble cave have been there for nearly ten thousand years ago, and archaeologists are baffled as to what its significance or purpose might have been, let alone whose hands are recorded forever on the rock. There isn’t any site like it anywhere else on the continent or, for that matter, anywhere else in the world. You’ll find it in one of the most remote regions of Patagonia, so consider it a must-visit destination on an Argentinian road trip. The paintings are thought to be among the oldest pre-historic works of art in the country, but it’s unlikely that the people who created it did so because they wanted to make art. What was on their minds when they set about their task? Find a good tour guide, and you might just get a few clues!
Cuzco is holds the distinction of being the oldest continually-inhabited city in the Americas, and that makes this Peruvian destination a must-visit for two reasons. Firstly, the fact that it’s still inhabited means that it has modern amenities like hotels and restaurants, and secondly, it’s one of the most astonishing ancient architectural sites on the face of the Earth. Even the cathedral is built on top of ancient Inca walls, and there are far older Inca structures elsewhere in the city. The quality of the stonework is so incredible that it baffles archaeologists; the stones are cut and fitted together so perfectly that precision-engineering tools must have been used, and yet based on what we know of Inca technology, they can’t have had any at their disposal. How did the Inca go about building their famous capital city, and why did they appear to have better construction skills than we do in the modern age? You guessed it – it’s a mystery!
Lake Titicaca in Bolivia attracts thousands of visitors every year. Tiahuanaco attracts far less attention despite the fact that it’s less than twenty miles away, and it’s arguably a lot more interesting to look at. Some historians and archaeologists believe this to be the oldest pre-Columbian settlement in the Americas and the oldest ancient site that’s still standing today. The four temples that used to dominate the landscape here are mostly ruined today, but there’s still enough of them left for you to get a good idea of the size and shape of the place as it must have appeared one thousand years ago. While you’re being blown away by the statues and geometrically-perfect shapes, ask yourself this question:- Some of the stones here weigh upward of 150 tons, and yet we’ve been able to prove that they were quarried almost ten miles away. How did the people of the time carry stones that heavy over such a long distance, and perhaps more importantly, why did they build Tiahuanaco here instead of doing it closer to the quarry?
The Moais of Easter Island
You have to leave the mainland to reach Easter Island, but we include it in our article because it belongs to Chile, and Chile is most definitely South American! Most people have heard of the giant stone heads that can be found all over Easter Island, but you won’t get a true appreciation of their beauty until you’ve seen the enormous Moais. Instead of trying to decide what is and isn’t historically important on Easter Island, UNESCO eventually gave up and declared the whole island a World Heritage site several years ago. We don’t blame them. These statues, which can be found at Rapa Nui on the island, were carved over five hundred years ago for reasons unknown. Recent archaeological research has proven that they once had eyes made from coral, although the coral is long gone. The volcanic ash statues are still a sight to behold, though, and your guess as to their purpose is just as valid as anybody else’s.
You’ll notice that we haven’t even mentioned Mexico or the Aztecs in our list of suggestions, and that’s because they get a lot of attention already. There’s so much more to South American history than the Aztecs, but if you’re heading that way, you should stop off in Mexico as well. Like we said at the start of the article, it would take you a lifetime to see every historically significant site there is to see in South America. Most of us can’t afford to spare the time and expense, but you should add the suggestions we’ve made above to your ‘must-see’ bucket list. After all, we only live once!