Tiwanaku is a tourist site that can be visited in any month of the year. Obviously, tourism decreases during the rainy season. You can start planning a trip to Tiwanaku as from March until November. The month in which most tourists visit the site is June and the day when most tourists from all over the world visit the site is 21 June, the day of the winter solstice. On that day, there is a big party in Tiwanaku to celebrate the Andean new-year.
As the maximum expression of Andean culture, the ruins in Tiwanaku belong to a culture that dominated virtually the entire Andean highlands, between the western and eastern or Real mountain chains, and which even influenced contemporary cultures in the south of Peru, such as Nazca, Paracas and others; in the north of Chile and Argentina; and in the Amazon regions of today’s Bolivia and part of southern Peru.
The original name is believed to have been Taipikala, a term in aymara meaning “Stone of the Center”. This culture is believed to have developed from 1500 BC until 1200 AC, with its greatest development between the beginning of this era and 800 AC. That is when the religious center was built with the Kalasasaya temple, the semi-subterranean small temple, the Akapana pyramid, the Puma Punku pyramid and the Putuni palace. Relatively little has been excavated, though sufficient to realize the degree of development achieved by this culture in the fields of architecture, sculpture, hydraulics, metallurgy, agriculture and ceramics. The site has been declared World Heritage by UNESCO. The Kalasasaya temple houses the famous Puerta del Sol (Gate of the Sun), which is carved in high relief and is practically unparalleled in contemporary cultures in South America, besides the Benett monolith as one of the largest of its kind in the American continent with its height of more than 7 meters and its unique carving in high and low relief. In both, the most remarkable elements are the characters and images of the God of the Rods, zoomorphic and anthropomorphic winged creatures and, in the end, a series of iconographic expressions showing us their stone carving capacity.
Both monuments and many others open the door to a countless number of interpretations on the meaning of all symbols we find in this culture, of which we now only have memories of its magnificence in the monumental works abandoned by their people around 1200 AC for reasons on which archaeologists today have different theories. At the moment, the archeological site has two museums, one of which a recent building that houses the Benett monolith that was moved there from the city of La Paz to ensure a better preservation. A visit to this zone should not be limited to the archeological site because at just a few kilometers away are the towns of Guaqui and Taraco, on the shore of Lake Titikaka, where we find interesting remains of this culture, such as the sukakollos or camellones agricultural systems which allowed them to have a perfectly sustainable and integrated agricultural production system. The site is easily accessible from the city of La Paz since it is located along the Panamericana highway to Peru, at a mere 70 Km from the capital city. Various tourist operators offer transportation and guides in different price ranges, though you can also resort to departmental public transportation services.
Likewise, the site is easily accessible from Puno. Tiwanaku is also a must for tourists traveling through Peru in areas near Bolivia.
Tiwanaku Church: Built in 1612, the church has a pulpit and an altarpiece of the 17th century and a beautiful silver altar front of the same century, similar to that of Jesús de Machaca; it is one of the most important ones in the region. An interesting feature is the carved stone extracted from the Tiwanaku ruins.