The Gate of the Gods / Photo Courtesy: [Beyond Science / YouTube]
Peru contains its fair share of notable ancient ruins. Machu Pichu, the Nazca Lines, Pisac, and Cusco are all popular destinations for curious tourists. But a pink marble door in Hayu Marca just might but all of those sites to shame.
The story of the Gate of the Gods, also known as the Puerta de Hayu Marca (Door of Hayu Marca) or Aramu Muru, begins near the banks of Lake Titicaca, over half a millennium ago. Much of this story involves Incan mythology and spiritual beliefs, and it’s a pretty wild ride.
You see, for the Incans, Lake Titicaca was where the world was born. It was also the place their souls would return to after death. Basically, the lake was the Garden of Eden and Heaven all rolled-up in one.
According to Incan legend, the universe began when Con Tiqui Viracocha emerged from Lake Titicaca’s still waters. Mark Cartwright, a contributor to Ancient History Encyclopedia, smartly sums up what Viracocha meant to the Incan people.
According to Cartwright he was: “Considered the creator god he was the father of all other Inca gods and it was he who formed the earth, heavens, sun, moon and all living beings. When he finished his work he was believed to have traveled far and wide teaching humanity and bringing the civilized arts before he headed west across the Pacific, never to be seen again but promising one day to return.”
Viracocha’s promise to return, his creation of multiple gods, and the belief that he is still observing his creation from afar, will prove immensely crucial to the story of the Gate of the Gods.
A desecrated and forgotten empire
Awkwardly, many of these sites and sacred monuments actually were forgotten.
The Incan Empire crumbled in upon itself in 1592. Spanish conquistadors had decided to take as much Incan gold and natural resources as they could carry, and they spread smallpox along the way. After years of sieges, captures, and Incan in-fighting, the Spanish Empire claimed Peru and Chile.
The last Incan Emperor was swiftly executed by the Spanish, bringing a bloody end to the dying empire. And yet, the massive and rather advanced civilization left behind substantial evidence of their culture and beliefs, ensuring that they would not be forgotten. Awkwardly, many of these sites and sacred monuments actually were forgotten. It would take three hundred years — in some cases, four hundred — for the world to rediscover what the Incans left behind.
In 1996, Jose Luis Delgado Mamani found himself trekking across Hayu Brand, a mountainous region in Peru near Lake Titicaca. He had just gotten hired as a tour guide and wanted to familiarize himself with the area. He nearly walked past the site, but something seemed to call out to him.
In an interview, he recalls how, “When I saw the structure for the first time, I almost missed it! I have dreamed of building on several occasions over the years, but in the dream, the path to the door was paved with pink marble, and with pink marble statues lined up on either side of the path… I have commented [on] these dreams many times to my family, and so when I finally contemplated the door it was like a revelation of God.”
While many were dubious of Mamani’s story, others were compelled to believe him. After all, his experience substantially mirrors the tale of Aramu Muru: The man, the priest, the legend.
The strange tale of Aramu Muru
The Spanish conquest of South America was a messy, bloody affair. Several million people lost their lives due to smallpox, brutal violence, and displacement. But Peruvians tell a tale of one Incan priest who was able to escape the oncoming onslaught of European destruction and desolation. His name was Aramu Muru, and he was a priest who served in the Temple of The Seven Rays.
To escape his imminent persecution and death at the hands of the Spanish, Aramu Muru fled to Hayu Marca and the City of the Gods. With the help of several fellow priests, and by using a golden disc known as the Key of the Gods of the Seven Rays, Aramu Muru opened the small door in the face of the rock.
According to legend, the stone door transformed into a tunnel that was lit with an unearthly blue light. Aramu Muru passed through the barrier and entered the tunnel, upon which the door closed. Many people believe that he is now living in the Land of the Gods.Of course, the Gate of the Gods isn’t the only portal to another universe. Stargates, as they are known, exist all across the world.
In Bolivia, there’s the Gate of the Sun. In Turkey, there’s Gobekli Tepe. And of course, in England there’s Stonehenge. These ancient structures have logical explanations that do not involve gods, multiple universes, or ancient aliens.
Of course, these explanations are not complete, nor are they satisfactory. Modern science and archaeology continue to struggle to explain how supposedly primitive peoples were able to build these monuments. The Gate of the Gods, and many other ancient stargates, reveals a staggering understanding of engineering, architecture, and construction that seems extraordinarily advanced for any pre-Industrial civilization.
Older than the Incans
The Incan civilization began, for all intents and purposes, in the 12th century. In total, they existed for only about four hundred years. As research methods and techniques continue to improve, we may find that many ancient Incan sites actually pre-date the Incans themselves. Tiwanaku, a city in ruins near Lake Titicaca, looks very similar to many famous Incan sites, including the Gate of the Gods.
But the Incans didn’t build Tiwanaku, and archaeologists don’t have a single clue as to who did. Still, the ruins reveal some of the most precise stonework ever found in South America.
Margaret Young-Sánchez, a museum director in Denver, described the mysterious place in her book, Tiwanaku: Ancestors of the Inca. She wrote, “massive, stone-faced earthen mounds rise from the plain; nearby are great rectangular platforms and sunken courts with beautiful cut-stone masonry…”
There is evidence that human beings have been inhabiting the area around Lake Titicaca for the last 4,000 years, and it most likely these ancient peoples who are responsible for many of the monoliths we see today. These unnamed peoples are also likely responsible for the creation of a sunken city and temple that now sits at the bottom of the lake.
Buried and sunken secrets
The nearby ruins of Tiwanaku once held a bustling city of 10,000 or more inhabitants. So, where did all these people go?
The Incan civilization seemed to suddenly explode after years of dwindling. It then swiftly disappeared. The same can be said for the pre-Incan civilizations that once inhabited the Lake Titicaca region.
In 2000, Lorenzo Epis, one of the lead divers to discover pre-Incan artifacts beneath the waters of Lake Titicaca, reported that “we’ve found what appears to have been a 200-meter-long, 50-meter-wide holy temple, a terrace for crops, a pre-Incan road and an 800-meter-long containing wall.”
The nearby ruins of Tiwanaku once held a bustling city of 10,000 or more inhabitants. So, where did all these people go? Were they, as legend reports, collected by their gods and hurried away to another realm? Or were they conquered by rival tribes and civilizations? Sadly, we may never know. The most popular answer is that these people later became the Incans themselves, though this idea is still hotly debated.
Tourists who have traveled to the Gate of the Gods to see its majesty and mystery with their own eyes tend to report some off occurrences. Some say that they’ve heard whistling, laughing, or strange music. Others have reported visions of stars or columns of fire that seem to resemble the two long, carved channels alongside the doorway.
An Australian tourist visiting the site said, “if you get the chance please go here. I was a bit skeptical at first but you really can feel the energy coming from there.”
If you’re interested in visiting the site to see the Gate of the Gods with your own eyes, hop on a plane and head to Puno, Peru. It is the closest city to the sacred and mysterious gateway. But, if you decide to take a photo of yourself inside the doorway, be sure to remove any circular, golden jewelry or necklaces beforehand. Otherwise, you may just slip into another world!
A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101
- Hidden prehistoric city uncovered beneath Lake Titicaca – History 101
Find out more about the strange, waterlogged temple and ruins beneath Lake Titicaca!
- 15 mystifying structures across the globe – History 101
Sometimes, the most impressive structures are the ones that stand the test of time.