Quitoloma: Pambamarca Pucará - Pichincha
archaeology ecuador archaeological sites ecuador quitoloma pambamarca pucara ecuador quito archaeology archeology archeological sites ecuador ruins
The archaeological site of Quitoloma is located in the province of Pichincha, in the Cayambe canton. It is located within the parish of Cangagua at an altitude of 3780 m.
PHOTO CREDIT: fernando bueno

Quitoloma Pucara is a military construction. The word “Pucará” is derived from the quechua (Peru) with which the incas designed a fortress or castle. The pucaraes in Ecuador are located on the top of hills and mountains, and are distributed throughout the entire Andean sierra. They are also called “churos”, since the paths are in spiral. From its summit they had wide visibility of the environment for the control of troops’ movements or commercial movements.


Quitoloma Pucará is considered the biggest of the Northern Sierra and belongs to a large complex of several fortresses, called Pambamarca. This pucará, near the town of Cangagua, is located at the top of the hill from which you can see an extensive panorama in the four cardinal points, including the capital, Quito. The buildings cover an area of 20 thousand square meters and are the most important defensive structure discovered in the country.


The Quitoloma structure is characterized by horizontal spaces fenced around a pyramid located in the Northeast. The churos are distributed around the pyramid. In addition is considered that there was an area with more than 80 house structures. Two were excavated by the Museum of the Central Bank of Ecuador. There were found utilitarian objects, and was confirmed they were housing structures.


On the construction technique and materials, the shape of the pucará required a modification of the Hill to create terraces and interior spaces of different levels. Subsequently they built defensive moats and near these structured drywall or pirca walls, joined with materials as the argamasa of land obtained from the same area.


According to some authors, this is a pre inca construction that was used as strategic point of surveillance of the Cayambi Caranqui chiefdom. But authors and foreign archaeologists mainly, prefer to consider it as an inca construction.


This dilemma handle two theories regarding its functionality: a) The pucaraes were built by the incas to support the war effort of their armies against the inhabitants of the North mountain range of the current Ecuador, which represented the strongest resistance group; b) they were built by the local ethnic groups to defend themselves against the inca conquest.

There isn’t an agreement about its occupants. The first news of this complex comes from the French Geodesic mission, which established in Pambamarca one of the topographic points to measure the arc of the Meridian.


You can reach the Quitoloma Pucara by two paths: If you will travel from Quito take the North Pan-American Highway to the detour to the Cangagua population. From here, continue along a path of third order and you get up very close to the archaeological site. The other via started in the population of Quinche, in direction to the village of Chumillos. From this place, also by a third order road, you will arrive to the pucará, and you must finish the tour walking.


The community of Chumillos usually offers some resources and tourist information because there are no official routes promoted by the Ministry of Tourism, but the community offers some of these services. Chumillos is located 1 hour and 30 from Quito and 30 minutes from El Quinche.

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