OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza welcomed Unesco's decision to include the Qhapaq Ñan in the World Heritage list, as it shows Incas' genius and reminds us that unity of Americas is not just a political slogan.
In a press release issued by the hemispheric organization, Insulza said “this reality is reflected today in the joint efforts of Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador that culminated in this announcement.”
During the last Permanent Council meeting, OAS member countries celebrated the inclusion on the Unesco list of World Heritage sites of the Andean road system Qhapaq Ñan, which crosses six members of the organization.
Permanent Representative of Peru to the OAS Juan Federico Jimenez explained that, “thanks to the Qhapaq Ñan, the Incas were able to join the great historical, natural and cultural diversity of the territory that today is part of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.”
“This is a recognition of these six countries historical richness, joined historically by this system of roads, that was crossed a complex geography along the ridge of the Andes, with monumental pathways and thanks to the management of Incas construction techniques,” said Ambassador Jimenez Mayor.
Upon the announcement, Unesco explained the decision, saying “this extraordinary network through one of the world’s most extreme geographical terrains, linked the snow-capped peaks of the Andes to the coast, running through hot rainforests, fertile valleys and absolute deserts.”
The organization noted the inclusion emphasizes “the social, political, architectural and engineering achievements of the network, along with its associated infrastructure for trade, accommodation and storage, and sites of religious significance.”
The Qhapaq Ñan, which means in Quechua “royal road,” is some 5,200 kilometers long, and reaches from Quito to Tucuman, in Argentina. Although some parts lie beneath cities today, a large area of the enormous network remains passable.
Connecting Cusco with all of its territories, the Qhapaq Ñan eased communication with the many peoples of the empire, and served as a means of integration as much political as administrative, socioeconomic, and cultural.
Among other cities, the route passes through Lima, La Paz, Cochabamba, Santiago and Salta. Its most famous stretch, known as “the path of the Inca,” connects Cusco with Machu Picchu, and attracts lots of tourists annually.
This is the first time six countries have presented a proposal to the World Heritage Committee, and was the result of a process that lasted more than ten years, and in which the cooperation between the six OAS member states was critically important.
Together with the Qhapaq Ñan, Unesco added to the list of now 988 World Heritage Sites the Carolingian Westwork and Civitas Corvey in Germany, and the Ancient Maya City and Protected Tropical Forests of Calakmul, Campeche.
During the meeting, the Peruvian Ambassador presented a video showing the historic and cultural value of the Andean road system.