Sacsayhuamán: On a hill overlooking Cusco, the monumental stonework at Sacsayhuamán forms massive zigzagged defensive walls of three tiers. Built by the Inca emperor Pachacútec in the mid-15th century, some blocks weigh as much as 300 tons, and they fit together seamlessly without mortar. The main pageant of the splendid Inti Raymi festival, one of the greatest expressions of Inca and Quechua culture, is celebrated every June 24 at Sacsayhuamán.

Sacsayhuamán is one of the most amazing Incan constructions for tourists. Its Quechua name means «satisfied falcon», it was the falcon that guarded the capital of the empire, since it was possible to overlook Cusco from the hill in where it was erected. If, as it is known, Cusco was designed with the shape of a lying puma, Sacsayhuamán would be its head, and the Coricancha would correspond to the feline’s genitalia.

Its construction took over seven decades and required the work of 20,000 men approximately, both for the foundations and hewn stone works, the transportation of materials, carving and stones setting. Hewn stones could have been located at Muina, Huacoto and Rumicolca, 20 kilometers away from Cusco, and at closer places such as Sallu, Rumi, Chita, Curovilca and Viracocha. Some of its external walls exceed the 9 meters of height and 350 tons of weight.

Spectacular fortress built with huge carved rocks jointed with absolute accuracy, this astounding sample of the Incan military architecture is, undoubtedly, the greatest architectonic work of the Tahuantinsuyo. But, in addition, it proves the undeniable firmness of the great administrative capacity of the empire and its powerful logistic system capable of mobilizing and organizing such a work.


It is located 2 km away from the city of Cusco, that is, 10 minutes by car. As of the Spaniards arrival its aspect has changed a lot, since this fortress was used as a hewn stone to build the colonial Cusco. The architectonic complex occupies the edge of the northern slope of the city of Cusco. The southern side of the building was enclosed by a polished wall of almost 400 meters long. The eastern and western borders of the temple were delimited by other walls and cultivation terraces. The main front of the building faces the north and is protected by a formidable system of three cultivation terraces. They are supported by zigzagging walls constituted by large stones that amazed their first visitors and which even now surprise us. According to Inca Garcilaso, these walls were constructed to demonstrate the Incan power.

From Sacsayhuamán, it is possible to obtain a spectacular view of the Sacred City and its surroundings. Besides, you will be able to distinguish summits such as those from the Ausangate, the Pachatusán and the Cinca, places that are believed to be inhabited by apus or powerful spirits that govern the mountains.


Sacsayhuamán is usually described as a fortress because it is practically enclosed by three slopes. However, the fact that the Incas constructed a fortress in that place is unusual, since at the moment of its construction they did not face major threats. Its shape and location would have responded to other principles, such as the harmony between architecture and landscape. Current investigations suggest that it must have been a temple devoted to the worship of the Sun, for which both the construction and the surrounding landscape were important.

The main wall is formed by stones that reach the 5 meters of height and 2.5 meters of width and that can weight between 90 and 125 metric tons. Moving these stones was a real feat, as well as the perfect adjustment among them and the attention given to the bosses’ curvature.


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