Coordinates: 14°49′44″S 74°56′37″W / 14.82889°S 74.94361°W / -14.82889; -74.94361
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Nazca Main Square Garden, at night
Flag of Nazca
Nazca is located in Peru
Coordinates: 14°49′44″S 74°56′37″W / 14.82889°S 74.94361°W / -14.82889; -74.94361
Country Peru
Founded17 November 1591
 • MayorJulio Oscar Elías Lucana
520 m (1,710 ft)
 • Estimate 

Nazca (/ˈnɑːskɑː, -kə/; sometimes spelled Nasca; Quechua: Naska) is a city and system of valleys on the southern coast of Peru. It is also the largest existing city in the Nazca Province. The name is derived from the Nazca culture, which flourished in the area between 100 BC and AD 800. This culture was responsible for the Nazca Lines and the ceremonial city of Cahuachi. They also constructed additional underground aqueducts, named puquios, in a regional system that still functions today. The first puquios are believed to have been built by the preceding Paracas culture.

Nazca is the capital of the Nazca Province located in the Ica District of the Ica Region of Peru.


On November 12, 1996, at 11:59 a.m. local time (16:59 GMT) there was an earthquake of magnitude 7.5 with its epicenter at 7.7 km into the sea. The earthquake almost completely destroyed the city of Nazca and its surroundings. Due to its occurrence during the day, there were only 14 fatalities. However, 1,500 people were injured and around 100,000 were left homeless. Within 12 years Nazca has been almost completely rebuilt.

Since 1997, Nazca has been the location of a major Canadian gold mining operation. The indigenous people at the time did not own the rights to their traditional communal lands. As a result, they were forcibly displaced. Since then, they have sought to legalize their ancient ownership of land and fixed property.



A fruit stand with sandwiches open early for breakfast in Nazca near the main farmers market

Nazca is one of the most arid regions in the world, with an average annual precipitation of 4 millimeters. Nazca's weather is controlled by the Humboldt Current, which carries water from Antarctica up the west coast of South America.

This cold ocean water cools the air and limits the accumulation of moisture within clouds; as a result, though clouds and fog are able to form, there is little rain.

Nazca's temperatures range from 10 to 32 °C with an average daily high of 21 °C. Summer months from November to March are dry, sunny, and hot. During the winter from June to August, fog from the coast rolls over the hills to keep temperatures in the moderate range; however, the intense sun makes daylight hours seem hotter than they are.[2]

Climate data for Nazca
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 31.8
Average low °C (°F) 17.5
Average precipitation mm (inches) 0.7
Source: SENAMHI[3]


The city of Nazca

There are two versions of the Spanish foundation. According to the writings of chroniclers, the city was founded on October 28, 1548, commissioned by Pedro de la Gasca, peacemaker by Alonso de Mendoza. The other version states that it was founded in 1591 by the Viceroy García Hurtado de Mendoza, 5th Marquis of Cañete.

During the Spanish colonial period, Nazca was known for viticulture, producing wine and grape brandy (aguardiente de la uva). Today this is commonly called pisco, after the famous port of the same name. Locally, the brandy is known as Nasca. These products were widely distributed throughout the viceroyalty of Peru and beyond.[4][page needed]

The largest of the Nazca vineyards were located in the rich Ingenio Valley, and were property of the Society of Jesus, Jesuit missionaries and priests.[5] The hacienda San Joseph de la Nasca, located in the upper part of the middle Ingenio Valley, was owned by the Jesuit College of Cuzco. San Francisco Xavier de la Nasca, in the lower part of the middle valley, was owned by the Jesuit College of San Pablo in Lima. Both of these estates used numerous workers who were enslaved persons of sub-Saharan African descent. In addition to producing wines and brandies, both estates had substantial infrastructure for producing the ceramic storage jars, known as botijas, in which the wine and brandy was transported.[6]

Today, the towns of San Javier and San José are known for the ruins of the large 18th-century baroque churches built during the Jesuit administration of these estates. In 1767, following the expulsion of the Society of Jesus by King Charles III of Spain, the Crown confiscated and administered these properties as royal estates.[4][page needed]

Nazca city square
Nazca city square

Nazca Patriots received the Liberating Expedition of General Don Jose de San Martin on October 14, 1820, after they escaped from the Battle of Nasca. Two days earlier, on October 12, General Juan Antonio Álvarez de Arenales, from Ica, was sent to the South in pursuit of the royal troops of Colonel Manuel Quimper fleeing from Ica. The second commander and chief of staff of the Division de la Sierra, was Argentine Lieutenant Colonel Manuel Rojas Argerich. He commanded 250 men: 110 infantry and 140 cavalry.

The town of Nasca was established on August 29, 1821. On July 2, 1855, it was elevated to a district and then it became a province on January 23, 1941.

Nasca, as the name is spelled in the 21st century, still has a dry climate. Before and during the time of the Inca, it had a formidable system of hydraulic engineering. The water was accessed through filtration galleries from underground branches, called aqueducts. The openings to the system were called puquios. More than three dozen continue to operate, to irrigate farmland and provide domestic needs.

Nazca lines[edit]

Nazca Lines
Underground Cantalloc Aqueducts

The Nazca culture is famous for its desert line drawings, the product of complex construction projects carried out by a hierarchical society from 500 BC to AD 500. Contrary to the popular belief that the lines and figures can be seen only from an aircraft, they are also visible from the surrounding foothills and other high places.[7][8][9] There are innumerable formations of both animals and geometric designs.

Local tour companies sell flights (sobrevueltos) over 12 main figures, the most famous of which are the hummingbird, the condor, and the monkey. The spiral tail of the monkey inspired the spiral in the "P" of the Perú logo, which is also found on its currency. UNESCO declared the Nazca Lines a World Heritage Site in 1994.


Nazca has a small airport, the Maria Reiche Neuman Airport, used mainly for touristic flights over the Nazca lines. It was named for a woman who did much to study the Nazca lines and bring them to international attention as products of pre-Hispanic man.

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ Perú: Población estimada al 30 de junio y tasa de crecimiento de las ciudades capitales, por departamento, 2011 y 2015. Perú: Estimaciones y proyecciones de población total por sexo de las principales ciudades, 2012-2015 (Report). Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informática. March 2012. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
  2. ^ Ted E Barker (October 2011). Discovering Nazca Peru. ISBN 978-1480220379.
  3. ^ "Promedio de temperatura normal para NAZCA" (in Spanish). Servicio Nacional de Meteorología e Hidrología del Perú. Archived from the original on 13 September 2017. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  4. ^ a b Cushner, Nicholas P. 1980. Lords of the Land: Sugar, Wine, and Jesuit Estates of Coastal Peru, 1600-1767. Albany: State University of New York Press.
  5. ^ Macera, Pablo. 1966. Instrucciones para el manejo de las haciendas jesuítas del Perú, ss. XVII-XVIII. Lima: Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos: Facultad de Letras y Ciencias Humanas, Departamento de Historia.
  6. ^ Negro, Sandra. 2005. "Arquitectura, poder y esclavitud en las haciendas jesuitas de la Nasca en el Perú", In Esclavitud, economía y evangelización: Las haciendas jesuitas en la América Virreinal. S. Negro and M.M. Marzal, eds. Pp. 449-492. Lima: Fondo Editorial de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú.
  7. ^ Gardner's Art Through the Ages: Ancient, medieval, and non-European art. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; 1 January 1991. ISBN 978-0-15-503770-0.
  8. ^ Hinman, Bonnie. Mystery of the Nazca Lines. ABDO; 1 January 2016. ISBN 978-1-68077-242-5. p. 6–.
  9. ^ Anthony F. Aveni. Between the Lines: The Mystery of the Giant Ground Drawings of Ancient Nasca, Peru. University of Texas Press; 2000. ISBN 978-0-292-70496-1. p. 88–.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Nazca at Wikimedia Commons
  • Nazca travel guide from Wikivoyage

14°49′44″S 74°56′37″W / 14.82889°S 74.94361°W / -14.82889; -74.94361