Explore a different destination UNESCO World Heritage Site Spiritual and Political Centre of the Tiwanaku Culture, Bolivia

Statue entitled The Monk at Tiwanaku
Statue entitled The Monk at Tiwanaku
Author: Fulsen (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

The Ruins of Tiwanaku, in the southern Andes, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Bolivia. Tiwanaku is an ancient civilisation that reached its peak between 500 and 900 AD.

The Tiwanaku archaeological site, encompassing the spiritual and political centre of the civilisation, was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site during the 24th session of the World Heritage Committee meeting in Cairns, Australia from 27 November to 2 December, 2000. The ruins of Tiwanaku is credited with playing a pivotal role in the development of the Andean pre-Hispanic civilisation. Buildings in Tiwanaku are outstanding examples of the ceremonial and public architecture of the Andean region.

Photos of Spiritual and Political Centre of the Tiwanaku Culture

Tiwanaku, Bolivia
Tiwanaku, Bolivia
Author: Claire POUTEAU (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 France)

Ruins at Tiwanaku
Ruins at Tiwanaku
Author: Claire POUTEAU (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 France)

Gateway of the Sun, Tiwanaku, Bolivia
Gateway of the Sun, Tiwanaku, Bolivia
Author: Mhwater (public domain)

Kalasasaya Temple, Tiwanaku
Kalasasaya Temple, Tiwanaku
Author: Anakin (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

What to See in Spiritual and Political Centre of the Tiwanaku Culture

World Heritage Site Inscription Details

Location: S 16 33 30 W 68 40 40
Inscription Year: 2000
Type of Site: Cultural
Inscription Criteria: III, IV


The ruins of Tiwanaku are located in the La Paz Department, on the southeastern shore of Lake Titicaca, about 72 km from La Paz. They were first documented by Pedro Cieza de León in 1549, when he found it while searching for the Inca capital Collasuyu.


There is a believe that Tiwanaku comes from the Aymara language, where taypiqala means stone in the centre, refering to Tiwanaku as the centre of the world. The actual name of Tiwanaku, as it was known by its inhabitants, has long been forgotten, as the people did not have a written language.


According to archaeology, Tiwanaku began to expand starting around AD 400. It began to create colonies through trade negotiations and through establishing a regional religious belief, with Tiwanaku being the religious centre.

The Tiwanaku settlement became large towns by around AD 600 to 800. The city itself covered an area of around 6.5 square kilometers, and had up to 30,000 inhabitants. Satellite imaging on the Tiwanaku terrain pointed to the possibility that the city may have been home to as many as 285,000 to even 1.5 million people.

A dramatic decline happened to the Tiwanaku civilisation from AD 950, brought on by a sudden climatic change that may have significantly reduced the rainfall in the Titicaca basin. Within 50 years, the civilisation was wiped out. The area remained uninhabited until the beginning of the 13th century, when the Inca Empire began to extend into the Titicaca regions. The 9th Inca ruler, Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui conquered the area in 1445, absorbing the remnants of Tiwanaku culture and installing Inca officials to govern the area.

Location Map

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Visiting Spiritual and Political Centre of the Tiwanaku Culture

Your base for visiting this World Heritage Site is La Paz, the capital of Bolivia. From there, you can engage a travel agency to help you plan your trip to Tiwanaku. You can get a list of budget hotels in La Paz with online booking.

Getting there

If you are going to Tiwanaku on your own, take a taxi or minibus from the city centre to the Cemetery minibus station. From there, you can catch a minibus to Tiwanaku.

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Click here also for a full list of hotels in Bolivia or hotels worldwide. If you prefer budget accommodation in hostels, guesthouses or inns, check out hostels worldwide for budget accommodation providers with online booking.

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