This site is located north of the city of Cusco, at an altitude of about 3555 meters above sea level, between the districts of Cusco and San Sebastian, both of them within in the province and department of Cusco. The archaeological park covers an area of 3094 Hectares and contains more than 200 archaeological sites. Leading to Saqsaywaman there are two paved roads, one starts in the old and traditional neighbourhood of San Cristobal and is about 1.5 kilometers long and the other road begins at Avenida Collasuyo and is 4 kilometers long.
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, many people believe in the inability of ancient Quechuas to create such a wonder, so they suggest that they were made by beings of some other worlds, extraterrestrial beings with superior technology that made all that possible. However, our history and archaeology demonstrate that those objects of admiration are an undeniable work of the Incas, Quechuas, Andean people or however pre-Hispanic inhabitants of this corner of the world would be named.
The imperial city Cusco, meaning ‘navel of the earth,’ was laid out in the form of a puma, the animal that symbolized the Inca dynasty. The belly of the puma was the main plaza, the river Tullumayo formed its spine, and the hill of Sacsayhuaman its head.
One of the most imposing architectonic complexes inherited from the Incan Society is Sacsayhuaman, which because of several of its qualities is considered as one of the best monuments that mankind built on the earth’s surface.
The wall or rampart is the most impressive section, built with enormous carved limestone boulders, this construction has a broken line that faces to the main plaza called Chuquipampa which is a slope with 25 angles and 60 walls.The biggest carved boulder of the first wall weighs about 70 tons and like all of the other rocks was brought from a quarry called Sisicancha, three kilometers away and where there are still rocks that were transported part of the way. Each wall is made up of 10 fronts with the most important ones known as Rumipunco, tiupunku, Achuanpunku and Viracocha punku.
Three walls of Sacsayhuaman – the teeth of the Puma’s Head
Originally there were three "walls" or "bulwarks" which foundations are still seen today; 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 lime-stones 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 m 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 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.
There are no other walls like these. They are different from Stonehenge, different from the Pyramids of the Egyptians and the Maya, different from any of the other ancient monolithic stone-works.
The stones fit so perfectly that no blade of grass or steel can slide between them. There is no mortar. They often join in complex and irregular surfaces that would appear to be a nightmare for the stonemason.
Scientists speculate that the masonry process might have worked like this: after carving the desired shape out of the first boulder and fitting it in place, the masons would somehow suspend the second boulder on scaffolding next to the first one. They would then have to trace out a pattern on the second boulder in order to plan the appropriate jigsaw shape that would fit the two together. In order to make a precise copy of the first boulder’s edges, the masons might have used a straight stick with a hanging plum- bob to trace its edges and mark off exact points for carving on the second boulder. After tracing out the pattern, they would sculpt the stone into shape, pounding it with hand-sized stones to get the general shape before using finger-size stones for precision sanding. Admittedly, this entire technique is merely scientific speculation. The method might have worked in practice but that doesn’t mean this is how the ancient Quechua stonemasons did it.
There is usually neither adornment nor inscription. There is Elfin whimsy here, as well as raw, primitive and mighty expression. Most of these walls are found around Cusco and the Urubamba River Valley in the Peruvian Andes. There a few scattered examples elsewhere in the Andes, but almost nowhere else on Earth.
Mostly, the structures are beyond our ken. The how, why and what simply baffle. Modern man can neither explain nor duplicate. Mysteries like this bring out explanations scholarly, whimsical, inventive and ridiculous.
What is left from the three walls is made with lime-stones that in this case were used just in order to built the bases or foundations. The main walls were made with andesites that are blackish igneous stones which quarries are in Waqoto on the mountains north of San Jeronimo, or in Rumiqolqa about 35 Kms. (22 miles) from the city. Limestones are found in the surroundings of Sacsayhuaman but they are softer and can not be finely carved as the andesites of the main walls that were of the "Sedimentary or Imperial Incan" type. Destruction of Sacsayhuaman lasted about 400 years; since 1536 when Manko Inka began the war against Spaniards and sheltered himself in this complex. Later the first conquerors started using its stones to built their houses in the city; subsequently the city’s Church Council ordered in 1559 to take the andesites for the construction of the Cathedral. Even until 1930, Qosqo’s neighbours just paying a small fee could take the amount of stones they wanted in order to build their houses in the city: four centuries of destruction using this complex as a quarry by the colonial city’s stone masons.
Sacsayhuaman was supposedly completed around 1508. Depending on who you listen to, it took a crew of 20,000 to 30,000 men working for 60 years.
Here is a mystery:
The chronicler Garcilaso de la Vega was born around 1530, and raised in the shadow of these walls. And yet he seems not to have had a clue as to how Sacsayhuaman was built. He wrote:
"….this fortress surpasses the constructions known as the seven wonders of the world. For in the case of a long broad wall like that of Babylon, or the colossus of Rhodes, or the pyramids of Egypt, or the other monuments, one can see clearly how they were executed…how, by summoning an immense body of workers and accumulating more and more material day by day and year by year, they overcame all difficulties by employing human effort over a long period. But it is indeed beyond the power of imagination to understand now these Indians, unacquainted with devices, engines, and implements, could have cut, dressed, raised, and lowered great rocks, more like lumps of hills than building stones, and set them so exactly in their places. For this reason, and because the Indians were so familiar with demons, the work is attributed to enchantment."
Surely a few of those 20,000 labourers were still around when Garcilaso was young. Was everyone struck with amnesia? Or is Sacsayhuaman much older than we’ve been led to believe?
Archaeologists tell us that the walls of Sacsayhuaman rose ten feet higher than their remnants. That additional ten feet of stones supplied the building materials for the cathedrals and "casas" of the conquistadors.
It is generally conceded that these stones were much smaller than those megalithic monsters that remain.
Perhaps the upper part of the walls, constructed of small, regularly-shaped stones was the only part of Sacsayhuaman that was built by the Incas and "finished in 1508." This could explain why no one at the time of the conquest seemed to know how those mighty walls were built.
Garcilaso wrote that on the top of the three "walls" or "bulwarks" there were three strong towers disposed in a triangle. The main tower was in the middle and had a circular shape, it was named as Moyoc Marca (Muyuq Marka), the second one was named as Paucar Marca, and the third Sacllar Marca (Sallaq Marka); the last two ones were rectangular.
This is the remaining base of a tower discovered in 1934 at the top of the Temple of Sacsayhuaman. The Muyuqmarka consists of three concentric, circular stone walls connected by a series of radial walls. There are three channels constructed to bring water into what many scientists consider to be a reservoir. A web-like pattern of 34 lines intersects at the center and also there is a pattern of concentric circles that corresponded to the location of the circular walls.
According to Indian legend, Cusco was so barren that no crops could be grown there. In what is now the center of the city, there was a lake and a bog. The second Inca, Sinchi Roca, had the swamp drained and filled with stones and logs until it was firm enough to support their stone buildings. He also had thousands of loads of good earth brought in and spread over the land, making the valley fertile. What could possibly have been the attraction of this barren, boggy place? Suppose the magnificent lower walls of Sacsayhuaman were there before Manco Capac came to Cusco. That in itself would be enough to make the place holy.
The imperial city Cusco, meaning ‘navel of the earth,’ was laid out in the form of a puma, the animal that symbolized the Inca dynasty. The belly of the puma was the main plaza, the river Tullumayo formed its spine, and the hill of Sacsayhuaman its head. According to one early Spanish chronicler, the Inca emperor Pachakuti, who had made a pilgrimage to the ancient holy city of Tiahuanaco, sought to emulate the building perfection he had seen there in the construction of Cusco’s temples. Cusco, however, was not really a city in the European sense of the word. Rather it was an enormous sacred artifact, the dwelling place of the families of the Inca nobility (common people were not allowed entrance to the ceremonial nexus), and the center of the Inca cosmos.
In Cusco too, was the most important temple in the Inca empire, the Coricancha (meaning literally, "the corral of gold"). Dedicated primarily to Viracocha, the creator god, and Inti, the Sun god, the Coricancha also had subsidiary shrines to the Moon, Venus, the Pleiades, and various weather deities. Additionally there were a large number of religious icons of conquered peoples which had been brought to Cusco, partly in homage and partly as hostage. Reports by the first Spanish who entered Cusco tell that ceremonies were conducted around the clock at the Coricancha and that its opulence was fabulous beyond belief.
The wonderfully carved granite walls of the temple were covered with more than 700 sheets of pure gold, weighing around two kilograms each; the spacious courtyard was filled with life-size sculptures of animals and a field of corn, all fashioned from pure gold; the floors of the temple were themselves covered in solid gold; and facing the rising sun was a massive golden image of the sun encrusted with emeralds and other precious stones. (All of this golden artwork was quickly stolen and melted down by the Spaniards, who then built a church of Santo Domingo on foundations of the temple.)
The Coricancha (sometimes spelled Qoricancha) was also the centerpiece of a vast astronomical observatory and calendrical device for precisely calculating precessional movement. Emanating from the temple were forty lines called seques, running arrow-straight for hundreds of miles to significant celestial points on the horizon. Four of these seques represented the four intercardinal roads to the four quarters of Tawantinsuyu, others pointed to the equinox and solstice points, and still others to the heliacal rise positions of different stars and constellations highly important to the Inca.
Rodadero Hill and the Throne of the Incas
In the outskirts of Cusco, exactly opposite to Sacsayhuaman is Rodadero, a giant rock hill with numerous stairwells and benches carved into the rock
Throne of the Inca
The rock is smooth and rounded, like it was polished by a glacier.
Rodadero hill is made up of diorite rock of igneous origin, where you can find waterways, carved rocks and what has been revealed to be the so-called throne of the Incas that is accessed by a series of precisely carved stairs. Behind this section there are small labyrinths, tunnels and vaulted niches in the walls.