Archaeological Center of Moray


In the small town of Maras you will find the Archaeological Site of Moray, a place with circular terraces that at first glance will look like amphitheaters built in impressive natural depressions. These concentric terraces superimposed on huge holes give the impression of being carved in large bowls. Each of these small terraces has its own microclimate, according to the depth to which it is. Some studies state that Moray would have been used as a laboratory, to determine the ideal conditions for the cultivation of each species. There are three holes, one of which has been cultivated with plants of different species. Many people believe that this construction is one of the most impressive made by the Incas; and without a doubt, touring Moray in the Sacred Valley of the Incas is one of the best excursions prior to the visit to the Inca City of Machu Picchu.

Where is Moray?

The archaeological group of Moray is located 7 kilometers from the town of Maras, in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, 38 km from the city of Cusco and 3,500 m.a.s.l. Moray can be reached through a detour from the main road between Cusco and Urubamba.

What does Moray mean?

Moray is the Quechua word that describes “a territory occupied since ancient times,” by the peasant communities of Mullak´as and Misminay. Although the origin of Moray's name is not known for sure, it is presumed that it had to do with the corn crop called Aymoray, or with the month of May called the same way, or perhaps with the dehydrated potato known as Moraya.

Moray archeological site

National Geographic describes it as an "extreme example of Inca landscaping." It is built on a plateau at 3,500 m.a.s.l. and it is an experimental agricultural station created at the beginning of the dominion of the Empire of the Incas; it consists of huge circular depressions on terraces, the one at the bottom is approximately 30 m deep; These huge bowls might seem like a "more natural" version of the stairwells in India, but their purpose; Studies reveal that these terraces served to concentrate and generate thermal gradients, thus affecting the local climate. Temperatures gradually vary from 20 ° C in the center (hotter) to 15 ° C on the upper terraces, emulating "in one place", more than 20 ecological zones with different altitude levels that are normally 1,000 m below.

On the terraces vertical stones have been discovered, which would mark the limits of the shadows at twilight, during solstices and equinoxes. The locals call these stones "ñustas". It is said that each of Moray's terraces emulates climatic conditions of different ecological zones, of the different geographical areas of what was the vast empire of the Incas.

Visiting hours

The archaeological complex of Moray welcomes visitors every day of the year, from 7 am to 5 pm. The best way to visit Moray is on a tour organized by the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and before your visit to Machu Picchu.

What was the function of the terraces of Moray?

It is known that at the time of Tahuantinsuyo Moray produced 60% of the total vegetable species, more than 3,000 varieties of potatoes, corn and many other species, in addition to serving as an acclimatization and domestication center for wild plant species that were adapted to human consumption; but also to grow the coca leaf, which under normal conditions, could not be successfully cultivated in this place.

Customs in Moray

Hundreds of residents of the neighboring communities, attend the Moray circular platforms in the months of September and October, in order to celebrate the Moray Raymi or Fiesta de Moray. The festivities include folk dances related to land, production, harvest and agricultural work.

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