Where is the mummy of the Inca Pachacutec?

When the Inca emperor died, his body was mummified and worshiped as a divinity because it was believed that death was a transition to a new life. However, in the 16th century, with the arrival of the Spanish, many mummies were destroyed to avoid this cult considered pagan. Apparently the mummy of the famous emperor Pachacutec was stolen and hidden somewhere in the vast Inca empire. Chronicles and research suggest some places in Lima, Cusco and even Machu Picchu. Where is Pachacutec’s mummy?

Tabla de Contenido

Who was the Inca Pachacutec?

Pachacutec (believed to have been born in 1418 and died in 1471 AD) was the ninth Inca ruler and the first emperor considered the greatest statesman in ancient Peru.

This is because Pachacutec managed to transform the small Inca regional state into a vast empire, the largest in South America (it reached immense areas of the current countries of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina and Chile).

Pachacutec is an adaptation of a Quechua word that means ‘He who changes the earth’. The English researcher Clement Markham mentions that Pachacutec was ‘the greatest man that the aboriginal race of America has ever produced’.

Pachacutec was the son of the Inca ruler Huiracocha and the coya or wife of the Inca called Mama Runtu. In reality his name was Cusi Yupanqui’ which means ‘Blessed Prince’. However, after being crowned emperor his name changed to Pachacutec.

Like every child of Inca royalty, he was educated in the ‘Yachaywasi’ or houses of knowledge. The chronicles indicate that from a young age he was skilled in military strategies. As a teenager he was admired by the Inca nobility as a result of his intelligence and guts.

In 1438, after defeating the Chanca army, the Incas’ greatest rivals, he was crowned emperor. Among his main works: he expanded the new Inca territory, beautified the Coricancha temple, ordered the construction of Machu Picchu as his occasional resting place, reformed the Inca work system, ordered the teaching of Quechua in the conquered towns and built the qhapac ñan or Inca road network.

After his death in 1471, the successor to the Inca throne was his son Túpac Yupanqui. The location of his mummified body is still a mystery. He is considered the best Inca ruler. One of the most important figures in the history of Peru.

¿Dónde está la momia de Pachacutec?

The mummies of the Incas

The Inca emperor, or Sapa Inca, was considered a divine being, son of the god Inti, the sun. When the Inca ruler died, his body was carefully mummified to be preserved for eternity.

The chronicles indicate that it was a ceremony of great respect, which was done with great care. They used a Tolú balm, menthol, salt, tannin as well as various alkaloids, saponins and other resins. The Inca’s body was squatted and seated, with his knees bent under his chin. It was adorned with pieces of gold in the mouth, cuffs and chest.

Likewise he was dressed in magnificent clothing. After approximately a month, and after the funeral ceremonies (which included human sacrifices in the Capacocha rite – sacrifice of children); The body lay in his personal palace, in the care of servants. On special dates, such as Inti Raymi, the mummies were carried in procession through Cusco (including the Coricancha or temple of the Sun).

The chronicles also indicate that the mummies visited other dead rulers. They also participated in public banquets (where they drank and ate). Unfortunately, not a single mummy of the deceased Incas was located (the Spanish took charge of disappearing the mummies to avoid their cult, which they considered pagan).

Where is Pachacutec’s mummy?

There are several theories about the location of Pachacutec’s mummy. Some chronicles mention that it was found by the magistrate Polo de Ondegardo in 1569 and that next to the mummy another mummy from the ‘chancas’ was found (during the bloody war against the Incas).

It is believed that José Acosta (Jesuit chronicler) and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega himself observed the mummies, which were later transferred to the city of Lima, the capital of the viceroyalty of Peru.

José Acosta himself mentions: “the entire body was covered in tar and seemed alive. They had placed gold screens in his eyes so well placed that he did not need his natural eyes. He had a cut on his head. He was gray and had no hair missing, as if he had died that same day, when surely 60 or 80 years have already passed.”

Then the viceroy gave the order to find all the “mallquis” or mummies of the Inca rulers, some of which continued in possession of the ‘panacas’ or royal families of Cusco. What he sought was to put an end to the idolatry of Inca mummies.

It is believed that Juan Polo de Ondegardo y Zárate had the mission of finding Pachacutec’s mummy. He was also able to find the mummies of Huiracocha (father of Pachacutec) and Huayna Cápac.

The viceregal official took the mummies to the city of Lima where they were taken to the then only medical center for Spaniards in Lima, the San Andrés hospital. Why was that decided? It is presumed that the Spanish did not want the mummies to be worshiped by the indigenous population.

So the main hypotheses about where Pachacutec’s mummy is are: that the mummy is in Lima, in the old San Andrés hospital, today on block three of Huallaga Avenue, in the historic center of the city.

However, two hypotheses are also mentioned: that Pachacutec’s mummy that traveled to Lima is false and that his embalmed body is still in the city of Cusco. And, more recently, that the mummy is in an unexplored cavern of the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. The truth is that the mummy of the greatest Inca ruler has not yet been found.

Templo de San Blas en Cusco

In the city of Cusco?

Some chronicles indicate that Pachacutec’s mummified body is located in the so-called temple of thunder (Tococache), where the famous temple of San Blas is currently located (in the San Blas neighborhood).

These chronicles indicate that the mummy of the greatest Inca emperor was transported on litters and in his royal seat to Plaza Aucaypata (current Plaza de Armas of Cusco). There he was honored and then met with the mummy of Huiracocha (father of Pachacutec).

It is mentioned that Pachacutec was adorned with sumptuous blankets, gold and silver decorations and even a coat of arms. Then his mummy was transferred to Tococache, the temple in honor of thunder that Pachacutec himself ordered to be built.

However, it is not recognized what happened next to the mummy of Emperor Pachacutec. It was probably taken and hidden by the faithful Incas who thus sought to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Spanish. They had already stolen and destroyed other Inca mummies.

In Machu Picchu?

The hypothesis that Pachacutec’s mummy is in Machu Picchu arose in 2010, when French engineer David Crespy discovered a bricked-up door at the archaeological site of the Inca citadel.

Then, with the company of the French explorer Thierry Jamin, they carried out investigations with infrared rays and proposed that there was a mausoleum inside the cave (they found evidence of metals inside). Among their hypotheses they point out that the mummy of Emperor Pachacutec could be inside.

Due to the danger of damaging Machu Picchu during possible excavation work, the interior of the so-called Secret Door was not explored. Peruvian authorities suggest that the idea that the mummy of the greatest Inca ruler is found there is very far-fetched. However, what mysteries does the Secret Door hide? Is it worth the digging?

La puerta secreta de Machu Picchu

In Lima?

One of the hypotheses that has the most consensus among researchers is that Pachacutec’s mummy is found in the city of Lima.

By the way, the Peruvian historian Donato Amado Gonzales, in interviews with the Peruvian media, stated that he assured that there is no evidence to say that Pachacutec’s mummy is found in Machu Picchu. However, there are reports that indicate that it is located in the old San Andrés hospital.

That is, according to the chronicles, Pachacutec’s mummy was found in the temple of San Blas in Cusco until the 16th century but, between 1561 and 1564, the Inca’s mummy and others were taken to Lima, then the capital of the viceroyalty. .

What happened after? Not reliable information. However, it is mentioned that between 1877, 1937 and 1962 research work was carried out in the old San Andrés hospital. Among the investigators, Félix Hermoza Zúñiga stated that he found an empty crypt. Was Pachacutec’s mummy there? Until today, the remains of the famous Inca have not been found

Te Sugerimos leer . . .

The San Blas neighborhood is known as the 'bohemian neighborhood'. It is located just 15 minutes walk from the Plaza de Armas of Cusco. In addition to the Plaza and the colonial church of San Blas, there you can see the historic craft shops of the Mérida, Olave and Mendivil families. You can also spend a moment of tranquility, away from the intense commerce of the city center. And the best thing is that a visit to this Cusco space is free for everyone. Learn more!
Inti Raymi is the festival of the sun that dates back to the time of the Incas. Today in the city of Cusco, the residents rescued this tradition from their ancestors to perform an impressive staging every June 24 in three stages: the Coricancha, the Plaza de Armas and Sacsayhuaman. Although there are admission tickets for these shows, it is also possible to see them for free. Learn more!
The Sapantiana aqueduct in Cusco is one of the most recent free tourist attractions in Cusco. It is a colonial construction with high walls and arches, down whose stairs the water of a channeled stream descends. This allows you to get excellent photographs of the place. Entry to this construction is free for all visitors. Getting there is also free since you can go on foot. Learn more!
Intipunku is a Quechua word that means 'Gate of the sun'. Perhaps the most famous is the one located at the top of Machupicchu. However, in Ollantaytambo – the Sacred Valley of the Incas – there is also an Intipunku made by the Incas, which offers beautiful landscapes and a lot of history. The visit is free for all tourists. But to do this you must complete a challenging short hiking route. Learn more!
Cusco is one of the best tourist destinations in South America. Every year it is visited by more than 2 million people. Machu Picchu is your main destination. However, the capital of the Incas offers more: natural mountainous landscapes, treks, adventures, cold nights, parties, experiential tourism and more. For your climate, geography and experiences, it is essential to carry a suitcase with the appropriate clothing and utensils. Know what to bring on your trip to Cusco!
Cusco is a tourist destination available for all types of prices and experiences. Tourists who want an A-1 service can hire luxury hotels, all-inclusive trains and the best restaurants in the city. Tourists who want a lower-budget experience can choose one of the seven affordable restaurants we present below.