The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire

June 26, 2015–June 27, 2021

Washington, DC

Construction of the Inka Road stands as one of the monumental engineering achievements in history. A network more than 20,000 miles long, crossing mountains and tropical lowlands, rivers and deserts, the Great Inka Road linked Cusco, the administrative capital and spiritual center of the Inka world, to the farthest reaches of its empire. The road continues to serve contemporary Andean communities across Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile as a sacred space and symbol of cultural continuity. In 2014, the United Nations cultural agency, UNESCO, recognized the Inka Road as a World Heritage site.

The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire explores the foundations of the Inka Road in earlier Andean cultures, technologies that made building the road possible, the cosmology and political organization of the Inka world, and the legacy of the Inka Empire during the colonial period and in the present day.


The Inka Road project is organized by the National Museum of the American Indian and is made possible by federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center, and internal Smithsonian Institution funds from the Consortium for World Cultures. Generous support for the exhibition is provided by the National Council of the National Museum of the American Indian and the ESA Foundation.