Moray Circular Inca Terraces


Open 7am-6pm entry by Cusco Tourist Ticket


Moray is a fascinating archaeological site which lies approximately 45km (28 miles) north-west of Cusco and about 6km (4 miles) west of the village of Maras. The site consists of several enormous circular depressions made from concentric circular stone terraces which diminish in size towards the middle in a similar fashion to an amphitheatre. The largest depression is almost 30m deep.


The purpose of these structures is uncertain but their design and orientation create a range of micro-climates with temperature differences of as much as 15 C (27 F) between the top and bottom terrace. Experts have suggested that Moray may have been some kind of Inca agricultural experimental station to study the effects of the different climatic conditions on crops and possibly helping to domesticate and acclimatize certain crops for use at high altitudes.

Crops from warmer climates could have been planted in the lower terraces which are warmer and more protected from cold winds and frosts. The seeds from the healthiest plants could then be introduced into the next highest terrace and this process of acclimatization and genetic domestication repeated until suitable plants could be bred that could survive outside of the terracing. Hence these giant circular structures are often referred to as the "Inca Greenhouses". One of the structures has been planted with various crops.

Map of the Sacred Valley including Maras, Moray and the Maras salt pans (Salineras)

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Map of the Sacred Valley including Maras, Moray and the Maras salt pans (Salineras)