Chucuito is one of the few ancient sites in the world that is likely to elicit a few giggles. In many ways, you’re supposed to giggle when you walk through the walled-off complex covered in row after row of stone phalluses. Especially considering that this supposed ancient fertility clinic may just be a hoax catering to the immaturity of tourists.
For more than half a century, archeologists and anthropologists have studied Chucuito Temple of Fertility, and have decided, with some debate, that the stones were placed in this order more recently than they were quarried and cut. Scientists even discovered that many of the stones were not originally set straight up, indicating that a perverse opportunist may have had a hand in the temple’s creation. Yet the findings of the scientists mean little to locals who work day in and day out to dispel these claims by giving tours of the temple.
Altogether, there are 86 phallic stones in the temple, and some even stretch to five feet. According to legend, and most tour guides in the city, this temple was frequented by women trying to get pregnant. Under the guidance of a spiritual leader, women would climb aboard the mushroom rocks and be doused in chicha, traditional Peruvian corn beer, which allegedly helped them become pregnant.
Adding to the confusion created by this legend, the site, which is named Inca Uyo, can be translated two ways. In Quechua, it means field, a perfectly logical translation. But a more modern twist translates the word into penis, which unfortunately fits the other side of the debate similarly well.
Although no definitive answer will ever be discovered, the rocks resemblance to male genitalia remains uncanny.
Know Before You Go
The easiest way to get to Chucuito and the Temple is to take a public bus south from Puno towards Juli. The bus ride will cost a nominal sum and take 20 minutes along the western bank of Lake Titicaca. Locals in town can point you in the direction of the temple.