Sacsayhuaman, the most fascinating Inca fortress will take your breath away. Not only for its stunning location of 3000 meters above sea level but also because of its gigantic stones that measure up to 5 meters high and 2.5 meters wide and weigh between 90 and 125 tons!
Read this complete guide to know everything about Sacsayhuaman starting from its history, to how to reach it and what to expect when you are there.
“Sacsayhuaman” is a Quechua word that gives the meaning “the place where the hawk is satiated”. It’s origin has been debated for years now. While some say it was used as a ceremonial centre for the lightning god because of the shape of the zigzag terrace distribution. Many believe it was only used as a military fortress by the Incas, especially during the Spanish invasions.
The construction began during the government of Inca Pachacutec (the ninth Inca). It later was continued by his son Tupac Inca Yupanqui and was finished by Huayna Capac around the 15th century. According to the Peruvian chronicler Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, Sacsayhuaman was the greatest architectural work of the Incas in its glorious era!
Sacsayhuaman is located about 2 km away from the city centre of Cusco. It makes a perfect day trip. However, there is no single ticket to Sacsayhuaman. The only available ticket is the Cusco Tourist Ticket. This ticket also offers entrance to Qenqo, Puca Pucara and Tambomachay.
According to the chronicler Pedro Cieza de León, more than 20,000 people participated in the construction of Sacsayhuaman. It took many decades to complete it because everything was done by manual labour. For instance, these stone blocks had to be brought from 25 miles away, it is still thriving in the present day.
Sacsayhuaman was built like the head of a puma. However, you can’t see the exact structure. This is because only about 20% of the fortress remains after the Spanish invasions. However, it is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Peru, after the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and the Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain.
You can expect to see spectacular views of the Cusco valley when you are in Sacsayhuaman. Other than that, there are remains of this Inca fortress. Including the towers, the fortress walls and even the Inca throne.
The towers are named Muyucmarca, Paucamarca and Sallaqmarca. They are located on the walls of the fortress in a zigzag formation. Records say that Inca general Titu Cusi Huallpa jumped from Muyucmarca to avoid being taken prisoner when the Spanish attacked the fortress.
The walls of the fortress are also intriguing to see with their zigzag designs. Here, the limestone stones fit perfectly together without even a single gap. This is another architectural marvel of the Incas. The Group of Enclosures, the trapezoidal shape doors are also must-see attractions in Sacsayhuaman.
The throne of the Inca or K’usilluc Jink’ian is a stone seat that was used by the Inca rulers. Whereas the Chincanas are two underground tunnels in Sacsayhuaman.