“Gate of the Sun” at Tiahuanaco, Bolivia
In western Bolivia, at a height of 13,000 feet, lies the ancient city of Tiahuanaco (Tiwanaku). It is the capital of an empire that extended into present-day Peru and Chile, flourishing from 300 to 1000 AD, and is believed to be one of the most important cities of ancient America. Andean legends claim the area around Lake Titicaca was the cradle of the first humans on Earth. According to the myths, Lord Viracocha, the creator of all things, chose Tiahuanaco as the place of creation.
Tiahuanaco is now about 800 feet above the level of Lake Titicaca, but most archaeologists agree that it was once a port. Structures have been found in Lake Titicaca which show that the sea levels have changed dramatically throughout history.
It is unknown how old these ruins are. Some researchers suggest that they date to 14,000 years BC. One ruin still standing in Tiahuanaco is the Gate of the Sun. The Gate of the Sun is approximately 3 metres tall and carved on a single block of stone. When rediscovered by European explorers in the mid-19th century, the megalith was lying horizontally and had a large crack going through it. It currently stands in the same location where it was found, although it is believed that this is not its original location, which remains uncertain.
The figures that decorate the stone are believed to have astronomical connotations and resemble human-like beings with wings and curled-up tails, and appear to be wearing rectangular ‘helmets’, although interpretations differ. The ‘Sun-God’ is in the centre and is sculpted with rays emitting from his face in all directions. He also appears to be holding a staff in each hand. The ‘Sun-God’ figure is also called the ‘Weeping God’ because things similar to tears are carved on its face.
Some people believe that this ‘gate’ was used as a calendar, causing some to call it ‘the Calendar Gate’. Indeed, it appears to reflect a solar year, however, it cannot be made to fit into the solar year as we divide it at present. The calendar has 290 days, divided into twelve months of 24 days each. Other radical theories suggest it was a portal to another dimension, perhaps to the 'land of the gods'.
Taking into account that Andes myths point to Tiahuanaco as the place of creation, it is certainly an important place to visit.