Fuerte De Samaipata Facts: Learn About This Archaeological Site

Sridevi Tolety
Dec 01, 2022 By Sridevi Tolety
Originally Published on Apr 28, 2022
Edited by Pete Anderson
Fact-checked by Lenin Kambam
View of the sculptured rock at El Fuerte

Fuerte de Samaipata is a fortress in Samaipata, also known as fort Samaipata and is located in Florida Province, Santa Cruz Department, Bolivia.

It is a pre-Columbian archaeological site that is now a tourist attraction site. This fortress of Samaipata is taken care of by the town of Samaipata, which is near the site.

The place is known to be very rich in culture as buildings, rituals, and ruins of three different cultures were found during the excavation of this place. Few cultures that inhabited this site are the Incas, Chane, and Spanish.

This place is called a fort, but this was used for residential, ceremonial, and religious purposes. All of this makes Samaipata a great historical place to visit as there are other sites of tourist attractions near and around it. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Discovery And History

El Fuerte De Samaipata was first discovered by Spanish colonists in the 16th century who settled in the area. However, they abandoned the place and shifted to a nearby valley, and there were still ruins of buildings and vegetation left there.

Then the area was noticed by scholars in the late 1700s, and the excavation started in the early 1900s.

El Fuerte De Samaipata has an interesting history as three diverse communities have resided in the area for different periods. People of the Chane culture were the first ones who lived there.

People of Chane culture were devoted to hunting-gathering and agriculture. They are famous for constructing a temple in El Fuerte de Samaipata.

There were also burial sites found in the area throughout the valley and Santa Cruz's pampas between the Guapay river and Siberia mountain ridge. People of Chane culture were also popular for their graphic and ceramic designs and the dense population of their village.

The Incas then occupied the region; they made a pact with Chanes and constructed El Fuerte de Samaipata. Incas were natives of Peru who expanded to the southeast.

Guarani, the warrior tribes, also known as Chiriguanos in Incas culture and Spanish, defeated the Incas and Chanes and invaded the valley; the Guarani warrior tribe continued to raid the area and valley until the 19th century.

When the new town of Samaipata was formed in Valle de la Purificacion, the military importance of this site was lost and hence was abandoned.

Cultural Heritage

As mentioned above, El Fuerte de Samaipata is UNESCO World Heritage Site and Pre-Columbian archaeological site. This site holds many cultural values.

This archaeological site is known to be divided into two different parts: one with the hill carving. It is speculated that the religious ceremonies were held here, and the other part is believed to be a residential area used for political administration and other administrative purposes.

The part where the religious ceremonies were held has a red sandstone, a huge rigid single rock of dimensions 240.595 yds (220 m) in length and approximately 65.6168 yds (60 m) in width.

This huge rock is fully carved with numerous representations of canals, niches, vessels, animals, and geometric shapes of heavy religious value. People from the Mojocoyas culture occupied the region and used it as a residential and ritual center.

The archaeological site is a strategic location that attracted the Incas and was pointed out by Spaniards.

In 1545, the work of silver mines started in the Cerro Rico at Potosi. It made the settlement of Samaipata an important acting post on the highway from Asuncion to Santa Cruz.

Archaeological Excavations

Through excavation, we have learned a lot about the history of El Fuerte de Samaipata, the huge red sandstone rock found during the Archaeological Excavations was done by sculptors and special artisans who were highly skilled and mastered in their work. During excavation, ruins of an Inca plaza were also found.

The Inca empire was expanding east from the Andes highlands towards the subtropical foothills, and these ruins are dated from the 15th to early 16th century.

During the excavation of El Fuerte de Samaipata, there were also many rituals discovered that were practiced there like proof of hydraulic use, fertilities rituals, a cult of deities, and representation of things from nature as sacred animals in purification.

This is where the priests lived or stored ceremonial items

Site Attraction

The regional government of Samaipata is trying to strengthen the tourism of the area while keeping in mind the existence of the National Park Amboro, which assures the environmental quality and biodiversity of the whole site.

El Fuerte is also known for the attraction of tourism.

There are many sites around samaipata to visit while travelling to Bolivia like Bodegas Landsua, Che Guevara Trail, Vinos 1750 - Uvairenda Bodega & Vinedos, Refugio Zoologico, Kaleidoscope Travel S.R.L., Centro Ecologico Cuevas, Bolivia Motorcycle Adventures, Jukumarihistory of El Fuerte De Samaipata is special because of its very rich culture.

People from three different cultures have inhabited the area, and all details from their cultures can be found there.


How old is the Fuerte De Samaipata?

El Fuerte De Samaipata was built around 300 AD by pre-Inca people known as Chanè.

Who built the Fuerte De Samaipata?

It is speculated that pre-Inca people built El Fuerte De Samaipata.

What does the Fuerte De Samaipata signifies?

Samaipata signifies "the heights of rest" in the language spoken by the Incas called Quechua

What type of architectural feature is a Fuerte De Samaipata?

There are many intriguing architectural features of El Fuerte de Samaipata. Like the complex artistic features, the urban form tells us about the extraordinary development of the cultures of pre-Columbians in the Andes Amazon region. It also has highly religious traditions and ceremonies representations carved on stones.

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Written by Sridevi Tolety

Bachelor of Science specializing in Botany, Master of Science specializing in Clinical Research and Regulatory Affairs

Sridevi Tolety picture

Sridevi ToletyBachelor of Science specializing in Botany, Master of Science specializing in Clinical Research and Regulatory Affairs

With a Master's degree in clinical research from Manipal University and a PG Diploma in journalism from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Sridevi has cultivated her passion for writing across various domains. She has authored a wide range of articles, blogs, travelogues, creative content, and short stories that have been published in leading magazines, newspapers, and websites. Sridevi is fluent in four languages and enjoys spending her spare time with loved ones. Her hobbies include reading, traveling, cooking, painting, and listening to music.

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Fact-checked by Lenin Kambam

Bachelor of Science specializing in Environmental Science

Lenin Kambam picture

Lenin KambamBachelor of Science specializing in Environmental Science

With a degree in Environmental Science from the D. M. College of Science, Lenin brings a unique blend of skills to the table. He has a solid background in sales and marketing, as well as extensive experience in the transcription industry spanning over a decade. Lenin is also committed to making a positive impact through his involvement in social and research projects.

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