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The Kingdom of the Clouds

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The, Chachapoya culture flourished around AD 800 in the northern highlands of Peru, where the eastern Andean slopes meet the humid Amazon basin, an area characterized by creased mountains, deep canyons, and high waterfalls. Here, a vaguely unified group of small kingdoms gradually established, farming terraced fields and acting as trading intermediaries between the Andes and the Amazon. The population, with a maximum of 500,000 at its peak, evolved with little concern for its boundaries until the invasion of the Inca in the 1470s. Much of what is known about the Chachapoya comes from the hard-to-access tombs found at the funerary sites built on limestone cliffs. Just as the Incas, these people did not have written language so archaeologists had to search in the elaborated sarcophagi with humanoid faces and cottage-like mausoleums built into the rockface and adorned with rust-red imagery. From what has been discovered, this society was relatively egalitarian and with few symbols of status and power eschewing hierarchies.

Spanish colonial chronicles described the Chachapoya as white-skinned and fair-haired; they were reputed to possess a robust warrior spirit put to the test when they fought ferociously against the army of the expanding Inca Empire in the 15th Century.  

Many of the subjugated Chachapoya were forcibly relocated to distant parts of the Inca empire to avoid future rebellions. Those who remained sided with the Spanish when they arrived in Peru in the 1530s, but diseases brought by the European and the harsh treatment by the conquistadors ensured that, by the early 17th century, the Chachapoya language and culture had all but disappeared. As a reminder of the greatness of the Kingdom of the Clouds, the magnificent ruins of Kuélap, an urban, political, and religious site sit 3,000m above the Utcubamba River valley on a misty mountain ridge defended by 20m-high walls. 

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Link to these sites for further information:

Interested on a tour to Chachapoyas?

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