Sillustani – 5 Reasons to Visit this Pre-Incan Cemetery

Sillustani is not a sight people rave about when they return from a trip to Peru. Actually, it’s a place I have never heard anyone mention. Even while leafing through the Lonely Planet it never caught my eye. It’s like it doesn’t exist. It does though, and this post contains 5 reasons why you do want to include Sillustani on your itinerary.

1. Sillustani’s History

The chullpas (funerary towers) of Sillustani were built by the ancient Colla people. This tribe of war-like, Aymara-speaking people once dominated the Lake Titicaca area. With war comes death and they buried their nobility in chullpas. This tribe later became the southeastern group of Incas.

Puno - Sillustani

The tallest tower reaches a height of 12m. The cylindrical structures housed the remains of complete families including food and belongings.

Puno - Sillustani

2. The Incredible Architecture

If you’re interested in Inca architecture, you’ll be awed by these structures. The walls of the towers are made from massive blocks which look like the stones used by the Incas. There’s not a crevice or hole in sight when you look at the towers closely. I’m still amazed by how these tribes constructed their buildings, they are like intricate puzzles.

Puno - Sillustani

What’s also interesting here is that you can see how they constructed the towers because some of them are unfinished. Ramps are built alongside the towers which were used to place the stones on top of the other ones.

Puno - Sillustani

Puno - Sillustani

3. Spot the Lizard

A fun mini-game is to try to spot the lizard which is carved into one of the stones. Even with people pointing at it, it’s hard to spot so see it as a bit of a challenge to look among the towers to find it ­čÖé

Puno - Sillustani

4. The Gorgeous Landscape

The towers are scattered on the rolling hills of the Lake Umayo peninsula. The most impressive towers are at Sillustani. It’s a treat arriving in the area and seeing the towers perched on top of hills. It’s not a secret I love cemeteries, but in a way I would compare this sight more to Meteora in Greece than a traditional cemetery due to its location.

Puno - Sillustani

If you climb on top of the hill, you will be able to enjoy a complete 360 view of the area. Sillustani is encircled by the aformentioned lake, which is home to small islands. Apparently, this is also a great place for birdwatchers.

Puno - Sillustani

Puno - Sillustani

Puno - Sillustani

It’s a treat to sit and just to enjoy the view.

Puno - Sillustani

5. It’s not on the Gringo Trail

Even though it technically is. Sillustani is located on the road between Juliaca and Puno. Basically, if you’re travelling to Puno, you’ll be passing it.

You can reach the cemetery by bus from either Puno or Juliaca. For a bit more money (around 80 Peruvian Sol = 20 Euro), you could also hire a private taxi.

Puno - Sillustani

Conclusion

I’m curious to hear who has ever heard of Sillustani. I’m sure not everyone will be interested in the history & the architecture of the towers themselves. However, this sight also has a beautiful location which makes it worthy of a visit. Would you consider adding this sight to your Peru itinerary?

My next post will be about two beautiful islands in Lake Titicaca.

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