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Sacsayhuamán - Ruin Cusco - Peru

Perched forebodingly in the hillsides rising above Cusco, the fortress ruins of Sacsayhuamán are some of the most impressive ruins in the area. Though few structures now remain inside, the massive 20-meter-high outer walls that zigzag together like razor-sharp teeth have stood stalwartly against past battles, earthquakes and time.

Emperor Pachacútec began building the hillside citadel in the 1440s, but the massive complex wasn't completed for almost another 100 years. Every Inca citizen was required to spend at least a few months a year on the public works, which involved dragging the massive stone blocks (one block is estimated to weigh an astounding 300 tons) via a system of log sleds and levers from as far as 32 kilometers (20 mi) away. Legend has it that 3,000 lives were lost while dragging a single stone. During Manco Inca's great rebellion, the fortress witnessed the massacre of an estimated 1,500 Inca soldiers trapped inside the three stone towers. Rather than face death by the Spaniards, many Incas leapt to their deaths from the high towers. The next morning condors feasted on the pile of corpses, an image captured forever on Cusco's coat-of-arms.

Even today engineers marvel at the scope and scale of the ruins' stonework, which fits together perfectly without mortar. Like other ruins in the Cusco area, Sacsayhuamán exemplifies the Inca's extraordinary architectural prowess. A huge trapezoidal door leads into the ruins from the walkway. From here you can explore inside the ruins, which once consisted of an intricate network of small streets and buildings overshadowed by three main towers. Today, adjacent to the grassy esplanade in front of the main defensive walls is Rodadero (Sliding Place), an intricately carved volcanic outcrop where the Inca throne once sat. In ancient times, this area was probably used for ceremonial gatherings. Even today you may be lucky enough to catch one of the many sun ceremonies still held throughout the year. If you can, plan to visit the ruins around the Inti Raymi festival held in June, during the summer solstice. From Sacsayhuamán you can also reach the Inca ruins of Q’enqo, Puca Pucara, and Tambo Machay.

From the Plaza de Armas, it's a 45-minute steep climb uphill. Follow Calle Suecia to Calle Huaynapata and onto Calle Pumacuro, which winds its way uphill past a small café. From the café its about a 10-minute signposted walk. Alternatively, you can take a taxi for around $3.


2 kilometers from Cusco

Cusco, Peru


Getting There

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Price Description:

Entry with the�Cusco Tourist Ticket.

Open Hours from:7 a.m.

Open Hours to:5:30 p.m.

Days Closed:none

Here are other activities in and around Cusco that may be of interest: Salapunco, Tambo Machay, Puca Pucara, Q’enqo, Pikillacta and Rumicolca and Tipón.

23 Mar 2012

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