"The Main Attraction: The Mysterious Nazca Lines" Top 5 Page for this destination Ica by jadedmuse
Ica Travel Guide: 49 reviews and 95 photos
There are some interesting geoglyphs around the world including some in the U.S.A. - but the most widely recognized for their archaeological importance, are the Nazca lines which sit atop the Nazca coastal plains of Peru. UNESCO has declared them to be a World Heritage treasure. What's amazing about these designs is that their authors went about creating them by simply removing the top layers of soil. The pepples and dirt forming this top layer are rich in ferrous oxide and centuries of exposure has given it a kind of darker patina when compared to the lighter underbelly of the soil and clay. This area of the Peruvian Pampa is so dry (considered to be the driest area on earth, actually) that there is little wind and virtually no rainfall, so the designs have remained relatively untouched for centuries. They're literally etched into the ground. It's so ironic that the only thing that has really disturbed these huge drawings is the Pan-American Highway that cuts straight across them.
When you see all these odd geometric lines and designs from overhead - some straight lines, some very geometrically opposed to each other, curious animal drawings - it's easy to discern the ugly gash of the P.A. Highway. Isn't progress wonderful?!
German archaeologist Dr. Maria Reiche dedicated her life to the people of the Pampa and to the study of these Nazca lines. In fact, she's pretty much singularly responsible for bringing to life these lines and reading the designs, and her tireless research has revealed that some of the design groups (the animals in particular) were part of an ancient zodiac system, a kind of astronomical calendar. She felt it was an arrogant dismissal of contemporary Man to try to explain away the designs as originating from extra-terrestrials. She believed in the genius of the ancient, pre-Colombian culture that inhabited this area and whom she proved, through tedious research and scientific study, were most likely the people responsible for these designs. So many of these designs can be found on ancient Nazcan pottery. Exactly who these people were and how they lived still remains a mystery today, but their legacy of the perfectly drawn lines and oddly shaped animals and other geometric figures - using the face of the earth as their canvas - is as fascinating a sight as any I've ever seen, and one that I will never, ever forget.
If you visit Ica (a town near the Nazca Lines), you'll see many things in Dr. Reiche's name - like schools and this sort of thing.
She died in 1998 at the age of 95, never having married and much beloved by her adopted people, the Peruvians of the Pampa.
Note: The top photo is not of the real Nazca Lines - it's a smaller scale model designed for display purposes, behind the Ica Regional Museum.
I would have loved to have posted a personal photo of the Lines - as I did view them from our flightseeing plane - but I was too busy trying to hold my cookies while the plane dipped and soared close to them!!! None of my photos came out very well!
("hold my cookies" is American for "trying not to vomit!!!!!")
I've seen these kinds of makeshift "taxis" in more than one third world country - I've even seen photos of them by other... more travel advice
Our day trip to see the Nazca Lines and the town of Ica included a stop for lunch at the hotel Las Dunas. This was... more travel advice
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