Value creation project for the Ingapirca archaeological complex

1. Context

The Ingapirca Archaeological Complex (CAI for its abbreviation in Spanish) is situated in the rural parish of Ingapirca, Ecuador. Ingapirca is a parish affected by social and political issues with a population of 8,340 (2010). Thanks to the Archaeological Complex, tourism has become a development activity for the local population.

The Project emerged from Executive Decree No. 507 (2010), in which the Central Government entrusted the National Institute of Cultural Heritage (INPC for its abbreviation in Spanish) with the administration of economic and financial resources, management, handling, upkeep, research, conservation, recovery and restoration of the CAI to support interculturality and plurinationality, guarantee sovereignty and peace, and strategically position the country regionally and globally.

2. Cañar and culture

Cultural heritage has the ability to contribute to the development of people through its influence on their socioeconomic dynamics. For this reason, the programmes have focused on the social impact of heritage. The real impact, however, is reflected in the cultural development of the parish and the province as a result of programmes and initiatives related to traditional activities and intangible, artisanal and social heritage.

The aim of the project is to manage, conserve, recover and restore the CAI by promoting cultural, social, productive and local tourism development through the implementation of cultural and heritage programmes that recover ancestral traditions and promoting culture as a cornerstone of sustainable development.

Culture plays a key role in the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations. The National Development Goals have been devised with the objectives of the CAI in mind. The conservation of heritage and cultural reactivation are the main lines of action to achieve said goals as well as those of the Agenda 21 for culture. They are reflected in the following initiatives:

  • SDG 1 - Contribution to inclusive, sustainable, economic development. Free access to culture.

  • SDG 4 - Get to Know your Culture allows students to visit the complex free of charge. Includes: transportation, food, participation in a cultural and handicraft fair and an artistic show.

  • SDG 8 - Productive activities related to sustainable tourism, community tourism development and job creation.

  • SDG 11 - Target 11.4 - Conservation and preservation of the Complex and surrounding archaeological sites. Annual organisation of Inti Raymi, the festival of the sun and the harvest, which coincides with the June solstice, featuring dancing, music and traditional national and parish celebrations.

  • SDG 16 - Controls to counter the illegal trafficking of cultural property. Cultural talks and workshops.

3. Project goals and implementation

3.1. Main and specific objectives

The aim of the project is to manage, conserve, recover and restore the CAI by promoting cultural, social, productive and local tourism development through the implementation of cultural and heritage programmes and initiatives that recover ancestral traditions and customs by promoting culture as a cornerstone for the sustainable development of people and communities.

3.2. Project development

Beneficiary population

The direct beneficiaries of the project are the inhabitants of Ingapirca, who work at the Complex and in their handicraft shops. The townspeople are owners of small commercial and tourist-oriented enterprises that depend on tourists and the influx of people who come for cultural events, fairs and other activities.

Main actions developed

Once management of the CAI was assigned, Region 6 of the INPC was entrusted with the administration of economic and financial resources, management, handling, upkeep, research, conservation, recovery and restoration of the CAI.

Three main lines of work were identified:

  • Community outreach
  • Tourism promotion and maintenance
  • Conservation and enhancement

The project focuses on the administration, management, conservation and restoration of the CAI; the implementation of programmes to foster access to cultural heritage, folklore and cultural spaces, and cultural promotion and economic reactivation through the organisation of fairs, workshops and conferences.

The initiatives carried out as part of the CAI management project are focused on:


»» Cleaning and excavation of the land in accordance with the Intihuaycu project.

»» Preventive or corrective conservation work.


  • Consolidation of archaeological structures
  • Preventive conservation work
  • Adequate rainwater management
  • Improved access for people with disabilities

»» Upkeep of the archaeological site’s entrance areas for tourists and disabled access


  • Improved access for visitors and people with disabilities
  • Protection for tourists against inclement weather


»» The student tourism campaign: Get to Know Your Culture


  • To promote tourism and cultural activities through a provincial campaign to raise awareness of the historical, heritage and cultural importance of the CAI among students from the province of Cañar by means of a specialised tour.
  • To build collective awareness among students of the importance of culture for sustainable tourism and to encourage young people to identify with their history and culture.

»» To install wireless internet at the CAI that is free to access for the whole parish, promoted by the Prefecture of Cañar.


  • To provide a free wireless internet service for tourists and local residents so they are able to access cultural, scientific and tourist information.


»» International workshop for the conservation of Qhapaq Ñan, the Andean road system and World Cultural Heritage Site, and its impact on tourism management.


  • To establish specific guidelines to address problems related to conservation, research and management of the CAI based on previous scientific studies and different contributions made by international guests.

»» The Inti Raymi festival


  • To promote the participation and integration of local social stakeholders and their different cultural manifestations.
  • To strengthen the cultural and ancestral traditions of the Cañari people.
  • To promote the economic development of the population through ventures and enterprises established to coincide with the festival.

4. Impact

4.1. Direct Impact

Impact on local government

Implementation of the project has contributed to the preservation of the history and culture of the parish, the province and the country. The CAI has had an impact at local and national level as a benchmark for culture and heritage and as the best-preserved archaeological complex in the country. Moreover, it has contributed to sustainable development and to the fulfilment of the SDGs and Agenda 21.

The INPC, the Prefecture of Cañar and local and parish governments are aware of the importance of continued management of such types of cultural programmes. Furthermore, many schools ask us to further act by incorporating traditional education.

Implementation of the project has contributed to the fulfilment of the deveopment goals and Agenda 21 through participation in cultural educational and social strenghtening programmes by means of the co-management of local, provincial and state governments and community stakeholders.

4.2. Evaluation

The project does not generate high assessable revenue. However, it does stimulate the local economy thanks to local productive processes and community tourist services. It is necessary to develop management strategies consistent with a policy aimed at ascribing cultural heritage a key role in the life of the community.

4.3. Key factors

In terms of its characteristics, the CAI has the potential to be a place of opportunity based on coordinated work with the community thanks to its location and natural, cultural and productive riches.

The project’s success stems from its nature as a comprehensive project for the promotion of cultural, heritage and tourism development fostering the development of the population through economic reactivation.

Inter-institutional work between local, provincial and state governments as well as the local and national community has been key to making this project one of the most important in the country.

4.4. Continuity

Since 2017, we have been working to convert Ingapirca into a Research Centre that covers a wider range of aspects and generates a greater number of community outreach programmes

On account of this, work is being carried out on a participatory management model for the complex that encompasses local, state, provincial and community institutions, which will deliver projects for cultural revitalisation. For this to be effective, the annual implementation of educational and cultural projects has been budgeted for. However, the participation of the community, NGOs and international institutions is necessary.

5. Further information

Cañar was nominated for the fourth edition of the International Award UCLG - Mexico City - Culture 21 (November 2019–May 2020). The Jury of the Award produced its final report in June 2020 and requested that the UCLG Committee on Culture promote this project as one of the good practices for the implementation of the Agenda 21 for culture.

This article was written by Estefanía Priscila Ortiz Pinos, Head of Tourism and Artisan Development, Cañar, Ecuador

Contact: eortiz (at)

Download1.28 MB
El Cañar