Kuelap: Peru’s mysterious fortress prepares to reopen

After a period of closure due to restoration work, the majestic fortress of Kuelap is preparing to reopen its doors on 19 August. Perched at an altitude of 3,000 metres in the Amazonas region, this pre-Inca citadel is one of Peru’s most impressive archaeological treasures. Far less well known than the famous Machu Picchu, this marvel built by the Chachapoyas people is nonetheless one of the largest stone structures in South America.


A legacy of the Chachapoyas culture

La Forteresse de Kuelap (Crédit : PromPeru)

Kuelap Fortress (Credit: Visit Peru)

The Chachapoyas culture, also known as the “People of the Clouds“, built this fortress between the 6th and 16th centuries. Kuelap is an eloquent testimony to their architectural mastery and strategic vision. The fortress, surrounded by massive walls reaching 20 metres high in places, housed more than 400 circular buildings.


An archaeological site undergoing a renaissance

Despite its splendour, Kuelap has long remained off the beaten tourist track. However, with the introduction of the cable car in 2017, the site has become more accessible, attracting more visitors. Following a collapse in 2022, significant efforts have been made to restore and preserve it. The reopening of the fortress on 19 August marks a turning point in the development of this heritage, with a stated desire to promote sustainable and responsible tourism. It was the President of Peru, Dina Boluarte, who announced the reopening of the Kuelap archaeological site in her speech on National Day on 28 July, stressing that initially admission would be free and limited to 90 people per day.


The mysteries of Kuelap

La Forteresse de Kuelap (Crédit : PromPeru)

Kuelap Fortress (Credit: PromPeru)

One of the special features of Kuelap is the zigzag patterns and representations of snakes and felines engraved on its walls, bearing witness to the religious beliefs of the Chachapoyas. The fortress is also notable for its defensive structure, with only three narrow entrances designed to repel invaders.


Visiting Kuelap: a unique experience

A visit to Kuelap is like stepping back in time. Wandering through its narrow streets, you can feel the mystical atmosphere of the place and marvel at the panoramic view over the Utcubamba valley. Local guides, passionate about their heritage, enrich the experience by sharing anecdotes and legends linked to the fortress.


Kuelap is a symbol of Peru‘s cultural and historical wealth. Its rediscovery and enhancement are an opportunity for travellers from all over the world to marvel at this pre-Inca marvel, while helping to preserve it for future generations.


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