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Fortress of Sacsayhuaman
Cusco Peru

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Climate
: Cusco features two well-defined seasons: the rainy season, from November to March, with average temperatures of 12 °C; and a dry season (the recommended time of year for visiting) from April to October, with cold nights, sunny days and average temperatures of 9 °C.

Access: 2 km west of the city of Cusco (10 minutes by car, 25 minutes on foot).

An imposing example of Inca military architecture, Sacsayhuaman is located 2 km from the city of Cusco. The fortress was hewn from vast granite blocks to protect the city from marauding tribes from the eastern jungle, the Antis region. Sacsayhuaman ("satisfied hawk" in Quechua, the Inca language) is divided into three vast zig-zagging terraces and flanked by massive stone walls, some up to 300 meters long. As it lies close to Cusco, and due to the dimension of its stones -some of which stand 5 meters high and weigh over 300 tons- the site was used as a quarry to provide stone for colonial buildings in Cusco.

One of the most imposing architectonic complexes inherited from the Inca Society is precisely Sacsayhuaman, which is considered as one of the best monuments built by them. When the Spanish conquerors arrived first to these lands, they could not explain themselves how Peruvian "Indians" (ignorant, wild, without any ability of logical reasoning, one more animal species according to conquerors) could have built such a greatness. Their religious fanaticism led them to believe that all that was simply work of demons or malign spirits. Still today, some people believe in the inability of ancient Quechuas to create a wonder such as Sacsayhuaman, so they suggest that they were made by beings of some other worlds, extraterrestrial beings with superior technology that made all that possible.

Originally there were three "walls" or "bulwarks" which foundations are still seen today in Sacsayhuaman; they are the most spectacular remains of that fabulous building that according to chroniclers did not have any comparison in the old world. They are three parallel walls built in different levels with limestones of enormous sizes; zigzagging walls that because of their appearance it is suggested that they represent the "teeth" of the puma's head that the complex represented. The boulders used for the first or lower levels are the biggest; there is one that is 8.5 mts. high (28 ft.) and weights about 140 metric tons. Those boulders classify the walls as being of cyclopean or megalithic architecture.

Some authors believe that the three walls of Sacsayhuaman represent the three levels of the Andean Religious World: beginning from the bottom would be the Ukju Pacha (underground stage), the Kay Pacha (earth's surface stage) in the middle, and the Hanan Pacha (sky stage) on the top.

Besides, those levels are identified with their three sacred animals: the Amaru or Mach'aqway (snake), the Puma (Cougar or Mountain Lion), and the Kuntur (Andean condor). Because of the zigzagging shape of the walls, some authors suggest that they represented the Illapa god (thunder, lightning and thunderbolt). It is possible that all the previous elements related to their religion would not be excluding, because there are divine interactions, and as it is known "three" was a key number among Quechuas.


Most Popular Archaeological Sites in Peru

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Paracas
Huacas of Lima
Caral
Pyramids of Tucume
Choquequirao Citadel
Toro Muerto
Korikancha Temple
Sacsayhuaman Fortress
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Ollantaytambo
Tambomachay and Qenqo
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Huacas del Sol y de la Luna


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