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The citadel of Kuelap is located 70 km (43 mi) to the southwest of the city of Chachapoyas, in the Province of Luya, District of Tingo. The citadel is right next to the community of Kuelap.
It is perched on the rocky crest of La Barreta Mountain and was inhabited by the Chachapoya people. It is located higher than 3,000 m above sea level (9,840 ft) and 1,000 m (3,280 ft) above the left bank of the Utcubamba River.
Once thought to be a military fortress, we now know Kuelap was a fortified citadel due to the excavation, conservation and restoration work of Archeologist Alfredo Narvaez.
According to the most recent carbon dating information, it´s construction was started around the year 400 A.C. and was never finished due to the constant expansion of the citadel. It was finally abandoned around the year 1540 during the initial phase of the Spanish invasion.
The citadel of Kuelap is a gigantic construction of elliptical shape; comprised of four superimposed platforms, made up of millions of cubic meters of limestone blocks and clay mortar. The builders used the irregular slope of the rocky outcrop, where the citadel was erected, to their advantage.
Oriented from south to north, the main platform stands 20 meters (65 ft) in height, with a length of 584 meters (1,915 ft) and a maximum width of 110 meters (360 ft). It also has two access ramps on the eastern front and an exit to the back.
The platforms support 420 circular houses. The great temple, which used to be called El Tintero (the ink bottle) is next to the southern circular platform, and the watchtower is located at the farthermost side of the citadel to the north.