The quiet city of Nazca is the capital of the province of the same name in the Ica region, located about 450 km south of Lima, directly on the Pan-American Highway. Nazca has become famous for the mysterious lines that extend for hundreds of kilometers in the valleys of the city and whose importance has not yet been fully clarified. Some of the huge “sand paintings” show animals such as the hummingbird, a monkey, a spider or even the jaguar, while other lines lead in geometric shapes or simply as endless roads through the desert.
With its discovery and the consequent increase in tourism, much has changed in the city, in good German: a lot of hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops have been added. But let’s be honest: whoever comes to Nazca will come by the Nazca Lines and the archaeological and historical sites in the area, the city itself does not necessarily have much to do with it.
Attractions in and around Nazca
“Not necessarily a lot” does not mean “nothing”, so if you have some time, you can spend some interesting hours in Nazca. The best part? Everything worth seeing can be easily reached on foot. As is usually the case, most of the places of interest, restaurants, bars and cafes are grouped around the Plaza de Armas, the market in the center.
From here you can visit, for example, the Antonini Archaeological Museum on Av. Visite Cultura 606 to learn a little more about Nazca and other local cultures. In the information museum you will find not only numerous pieces of ceramics and textiles from the Nazca period, but also an operating aqueduct and a miniature version of the Nazca lines.
Right on the outskirts of Nazca is Chauchilla Cemetery and if you are in an almost ghostly mood, you should not miss a short trip here. The cemetery, dating from the pre-Inca era, was almost completely looted by grave robbers; only the bones of the deceased left them and they can be visited today. The bones are more or less open in the desert, like the pieces of pottery and other remains left by grave robbers. The Cemetery of Chauchilla is the only archaeological site where you can see the remains of the deceased, about 1,000 years old, in their tombs. And while you’re here, why not take a trip to the Nazca Pottery Workshop, where you’ll learn how to make the famous Nazca ceramics, and an old gold processing facility is also nearby.
The Nazca canals, or Puquios, is an intricate system of underground canals used by the Nazca to irrigate their fields and gardens, despite the surrounding desert and very little rain. The incredible? The channels are still in service today and the best preserved can be found in Cantalloc (another name is Cantayo). There are spiral entries in the network of more than a hundred channels, probably to control and purify them.