Sillustani Tombs

A main archaeological attraction in the Lake Titicaca area is the burial site of Sillustani, which is about a 40-minute drive from Puno. These huge tombs are set on a hill above Lake Umayo and were used as graves for Colla nobility.

Sillustani is a pre-Incan site that consists of a group of huge cylindrical tombs. The towers of Sillustani are the most impressive of the burial towers constructed by the Colla people. They are distinctive because the Colla used brick-like rectangular edges, in contrast with the Inca who used stones of varying shapes.

The Colla, who were later incorporated into the Inca empire, constructed the towers to bury their nobility. The carefully carved stones are adorned with complicated carvings, some of which project out from the surface of the piece. It is important to also note that the openings in the tombs face east, where it was believed that the sun was reborn by "Pachamama," or Mother Earth, each day.

At one end of the hill stands the tallest of the towers at 40 feet (12 m). From here you can enjoy views of Puno; on the other side it's possible to see smaller towers set against the backdrop of Lake Umayo. Unfortunately, many of the tombs have been pillaged by grave robbers, while others were left unfinished by the original builders.

The tombs can be reached by following a signed path up the hill. Wandering around this site is like walking back in time and it’s best to dedicate an hour or so to walk up and around the hill and take in the views.

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