The Qhapaq Ñan (or Andean principal way) was the main axis of the economic project and policy of the INCA Empire, long of more than 6000 kilometers. It made it possible the INCA to control its Empire, to move its troops since the capital, Cusco.
History of the INCA Main roadWhen at the beginning of the 16th century, the Spanish conquistadores reached the isthmus of Panama, they heard the natives of a fabulous kingdom with which the princes were covered with gold. Although the existence of this mythical country, Eldorado, never could be proven, Europeans discovered during their explorations immense Empire INCA as well as the vestiges of civilizations which had preceded it.
With its apogee, this one covered an immense area which extended from Pasto, in the south of current Colombia, Santiago of Chile, while passing by Argentina, Peru and Bolivia.
Qhapaq Ñan - Andean Principal Way - then constituted the main axis of the economic project and policy of the INCA Empire. It was a gigantic long spinal column of more than 6000 kilometers that one can compare with the mythical Silk route in the East or the network of the Roman roads paved in Europe. Its layout principal joint towns of Pasto in Colombia, Quito and Cuenca in Ecuador, Cajamarca and Cusco in Peru, Aconcagua in Argentina and Santiago of Chile. It made it possible the INCA to control its Empire, to move its troops since the capital, Cusco. Along these sometimes paved roads, inns, guardrooms, bridges…
District distributers of transverse roads, length of more than 45.000 km, then connected Qhapaq Ñan to the coast and the Amazonian basin. The chasquis, the dispach riders with feet, then could, thanks to a system of extremely effective relay, to convey information at an incredible speed!
At an altitude located between 800 and 5000 meters, this monumental road, which can reach up to 20 meters of width, connected the inhabited areas, the administrative centers, the agricultural and mining zones as well as the places of worships.
This “Principal Way” allowed the unification of this immense and heterogeneous empire, one of organized best world on the administrative level. Beyond the modern borders, it continues to constitute this hyphen between the various Andean cultures.
Inheritance in dangerToday only part of this road is still visible, the remainder having been destroyed by time and the construction of modern infrastructures. Between peaks, valleys of altitude and deserts, the main road of the Andes is strewn with archaeological treasures, of which Ingapirca in Ecuador, but also of sites of average importance which need an urgent protection. This road crosses 15 different ecosystems, of which 4 are in danger: Jungas Peruvian, the forest dries of Marañon, the wet forest and Mattoral Chilean. Qhapak Ñan also passes by many indigenous areas to the attractive culture but in danger.
Various organizations, of which UNESCO, International IUCN and Conservation started to work on this road, putting forward the urgency of its protection, in close cooperation with the governments of the 6 countries by which passes Gran Ruta INCA.
The basic idea is to set up a system which associates the conservation of the inheritance with projects of environmental protection (via the creation of Natural parks or Reserves) and of the cultures of the Andean communities, while developing a durable economy through tourism.
The objective of UNESCO is to assist the countries which share this common inheritance in a pioneer project: preparation of an single-candidate election for the inscription of Qhapaq Ñan on the List of the World heritage.
- Site Qhapaq Ñan
- Project UNESCO on Qhapaq Ñan
- Barber Magazine
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