The Watch

Tambo Colorado

Humay, Peru

2010 World Monuments Watch

Faded but still visible, the adobe complex of Tambo Colorado derives its name from the abundant colors that once vividly adorned its outer walls. Situated between the Pacific coast and the Andes Mountains of southern Peru, the decorated surfaces and structure have survived remarkably well for centuries due to the region’s extremely dry and temperate climate. The Incan settlement was constructed as an administrative and ceremonial center during the reign of the Tupac Yupanqui in the last quarter of the 15th century. Tambo Colorado is among the best-preserved Inca sites on the Peruvian coast, although an earthquake in 2007 damaged the building. The site is strategically located midway along the Camino Real from Cuzco, and from this position, it was possible to control the flow of commerce and access to water sources in the region. The only Incan complex composed entirely of adobe and tapia–rammed earth–as an adaptation to the coastal environment, Tambo Colorado follows the typical Incan design with recessed trapezoidal niches and a rectangular floor plan. Tambo Colorado was one of the most significant coastal sites of the Incan empire. Strategically positioned and uniquely crafted, the site offers important historical, archaeological, and religious insight into Incan culture. Today, it is an important symbol to those living in the surrounding coastal environment. Seismic activity, aggressive weather conditions, and uncontrolled tourism threaten the site’s stability and preservation.

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