Letter of Support for the Preservation of Chinchero, Peru

by SAH Heritage Conservation Committee | Sep 23, 2019
09 Chinchero
The main plaza of Topa Inca’s estate at Chinchero. Photograph by Georgi Kyorlenski.

On September 11, 2019, the SAH Heritage Conservation Committee wrote a letter to the president of Peru, Martín Vizcarra, expressing support for the preservation of Chinchero, Peru, the royal residence of Topa Inca. 

Read the letter below or as a PDF (English version / Spanish version).

11 September 2019

Mr. Martín Vizcarra, Presidente de la República
Presidencia del Perú
Palacio de Gobierno
Despacho Presidencial Jr. de la Unión
s/n 1era cuadra
Cercado de Lima, Peru 15001

Re: Support for the preservation of Chinchero, Peru

Dear President Vizcarra:

The Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) expresses strong support for the preservation of Chinchero, Peru, the royal estate of Topa Inca.

Chinchero International Airport is being constructed to bring more tourists to Machu Picchu, the royal estate of the Inca ruler Pachacuti. The historic site of Machu Picchu is already operating at full capacity, and is scarcely able to accommodate any more tourists. Our concern is that the placement of the new airport threatens Chinchero, another enormously significant Inca heritage site. Chinchero represents the royal estate of Topa Inca, son of Pachacuti, who expanded the Inca into one of the largest empires in the world. It is the only intact residence built by Topa Inca, and is one of the best preserved and least developed Inca heritage sites in Peru. Chinchero also contains the historic church of Our Lady of the Nativity (“Nuestra Senora de la Natividad”), a seventeenth-century Spanish colonial structure erected on the ruins of an Inca temple.

The pathways and roads used to move to, through, and across a diverse collection of structures, sites, and landscapes were carefully planned and constructed, and remain a defining characteristic of the Inca empire. Unfortunately, at most Inca sites, the larger cultural landscape has been erased through modern construction. Chinchero and its extensive built environment have, however, largely survived. This monumental accomplishment includes roads and pathways, as well as shrines, storage centers, and way stations. The planned airport not only threatens the destruction of Chinchero itself, it threatens to destroy the very landscape that defined the home of the Inca’s greatest ruler.

The Society of Architectural Historians strongly supports the preservation of Chinchero, Peru, the royal residence of Topa Inca. Chinchero is a landmark of Peruvian heritage, one of international significance. Its preservation is essential so that future generations may appreciate it.


Bryan Clark Green, Ph.D., LEED AP BD+C
Chair, Society of Architectural Historians Heritage Conservation Committee

cc: Mr. Salvador del Solar, Presidencia del Consejo de Ministros; Mr. Luis Jaime Castillo Butters, Ph.D., Ministro de Cultura; Ms. Stella Nair, Ph.D. , UCLA; Mr. Kenneth Breisch, Ph.D.; Mr. Jeffrey Cody, Ph.D.; Mr. Anthony Cohn, AIA; Ms. Phyllis Ellin; Mr. David Fixler, FAIA; Mr. Sandy Isenstadt, Ph.D.; Ms. Pauline Saliga; Ms. Deborah Slaton; Members SAH Heritage Conservation Committee.

Learn more about SAH's Preservation Advocacy work.

Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is an international nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by profession or interest, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful public engagement with the history of the built environment through advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national and international programs.

SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
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