The Willkawayin temple ( Quechua for "house of the grandchildren") is located in the Callejón de Huaylas , a section of the valley of the Río Santa , on the slopes of the Cordillera Blanca on the edge of a place also called Willkawain . Only 7 km north of the city of Huaraz at an altitude of about , it is dominated by the peaks of Vallunaraju and Ranrapalca, which rise to heights of over and .
The Willkawayin temple complex consists of an upper and a lower building, which are about 10 minutes' walk apart. The buildings were erected without mortar and despite their age of over 1,000 years have so far withstood all earthquakes in this region without damage, better than most other pre-Columbian structures in Peru. The lower main temple has a floor plan of about 11 m × 16 m and stands on the upper edge of a large steep slope. The construction is a scaled-down image of the castle complex of Chavín de Huántar , with four terraces and stairways building on one another.
The main building is made up of heavy megalithic ashlars, the spaces in the outer walls are filled with small-format slates. A saddle roof made of huge smooth stone slabs that are up to eight meters long is placed on the outer walls. There are no windows, only ventilation slots that supply the interior with fresh air.
Below the roof ledge, stone images of big cats, so-called "cabezas clavas", formerly protruded from the wall, of which only two have survived today. One represents a head whose forehead is covered by two hands. It is unknown whether there is a connection to temples of the Kotosh culture near Huánuco , where hands (in a crossed shape) are also used as symbols.
The main building consists of 17 chambers inside, some of which are accessible today. The chambers are connected by stairs and ramps and have horizontal ventilation channels. Most of the chambers are still inaccessible and filled with the rubble and debris of the past millennium.
Corridors running under the facility, possibly kilometers long, which may have served as escape routes, have now been largely buried.
Based on the structure of the buildings and the exterior and interior decorations, it is assumed that Willkawayin was built during the Wari culture, one of the pre- Inca regional cultures of South America , which covered the coast and the western Andean region from around 600 to 1100 dominated today's Peru. One of the theories for the establishment of Willkawayin assumes that the facility was a military observation post and storage facility in its time.
- Rolf Seeler: Peru and Bolivia. 1st edition. DuMont Buchverlag, Cologne 2001, ISBN 3-7701-4786-3
- Alan Murphy: Peru Handbook. (English) Footprint Handbook, ISBN 0-8442-2187-2