Rapa Nui National Park is a protected Chilean wildlife area, the indigenous name of Easter Island, bears witness to a unique cultural phenomenon. A society of Polynesian origin that settled there c. A.D. 300 established a powerful, imaginative and original tradition of monumental sculpture and architecture, free from any external influence. From the 10th to the 16th century this society built shrines and erected enormous stone figures known as moai , which created an unrivalled cultural landscape that continues to fascinate people throughout the world. In 1996, Rapa Nui National Park listed in UNESCO World Heritage list.
Located in Easter Island, in the Pacific Ocean west of Chile in South America.
About Rapa Nui National Park
- Rapa Nui National Park most prominent attributes are the archaeological sites. It is estimated that there are about 900 statues, more than 300 ceremonial platforms and thousands of structures related to agriculture, funeral rites, housing and production, and other types of activities.
- Prominent among the archaeological pieces are the moai that range in height from 2 m to 20 m and are for the most part carved from the yellow–brown lava tuff, using simple picks (toki) made from hard basalt and then lowered down the slopes into previously dug holes.
- There are many kinds of them and of different sizes: those in the process of being carved, those in the process of being moved to their final destinations –the ahu-, those being torn down and erected.
- According to some studies, the depletion of natural resources had brought about an ecological crisis and the decline of the ancient Rapa Nui society by the 16th century, which led to decline and to the spiritual transformation in which these megalithic monuments were destroyed.
- The original cult of the ancestor was replaced by the cult of the man-bird, which has as exceptional testimony the ceremonial village of Orongo, located at the Rano Kau volcano.
- Rapa Nui culture displayed extraordinary characteristics that are expressed in singular architecture and sculpture within the Polynesian context. Easter Island, the most remote inhabited island on the planet, is 3,700 kilometres from the coast of continental Chile.
- Music, dance and art has always been a central part of Rapa Nui culture. The island is today part of Chile, and strong South American influences threaten the existence of the fragile Rapa Nui culture which a mere 3000 people are part of.
- As tourism became a more common part of the Easter Island society since the 1990’s and people travel from all over the world to see this unique culture, there has been an increased pride in the cultural Rapa Nui identity.
- For entering two of the main attractions of Rapa Nui (Rano Raraku and Orongo), visitors are required to show a park ticket.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Chilean Patagonia is November to early March (summertime in the southern hemisphere). In Rapa Nui, Rain falls year-round (around 80 mm), though most between April and June (around 110 mm). This means that even though rain is less common during summer (Dec – Feb), it is still a good idea to bring a rain coat – especially if you’re staying at Easter Island only for a few days. In case these days would be rainy, you would probably want to be able to be outside and still stay somewhat dry!
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