Kuelap, Peru by Yolka Shutterstock© Yolka, Shutterstock

An enormous ruined citadel in the Andes, Kuélap is considered to be the greatest pre-Columbian fortress in the Americas, with massive stone walls protecting hundreds of houses.

Kuélap is Peru’s mightiest secret and the most important site around Chachapoyas. A formidable lost city that pre-dates Machu Picchu, straggling almost a kilometre along an Andean mountain ridge at 3,000m and hidden under highland cloud, it comprises a vast set of ruins – and yet few people visit. Features include an impressively fortified entrance, temples, a large castle and some 400 buildings, most of them circular, set within a 30m-high defensive wall. The scale of the place is dizzying. Furthermore, almost all the ruin is original with little restoration having been done.

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