Located near the city of Cusco, Sacsayhuaman is an archaeological relic of the Incan Empire, built in the 15th century and still standing today as a must-visit destination for travelers interested in the history and culture of Peru. Once an essential bastion of the Incas, its strategic hilltop position served as an impregnable defense against would-be adversaries.
Let’s learn a bit more about Sacsayhuaman and how you can see this site for yourself!
Sacsayhuaman’s Masonry and Building Techniques
Using the innovative method of ashlar masonry, the Incas erected towering walls devoid of mortar. Meticulously chiseled and assembled, each stone contributes to an earthquake-resistant bastion. The seamless, tight-fitting joints are what make this site instantly recognizable.
Sacsayhuaman’s Zigzag Walls
The zigzag walls of Sacsayhuaman represent the teeth of the revered puma—a symbol of might and power—and served as a bulwark against invading forces. In fact, this whole complex is shaped like a puma’s head! Standing up to 18 feet (5.5 meters) high, the colossal limestone towers embody the Inca’s architectural mastery.
For a change of scenery, venture to The Rodadero, where nature has polished rock formations into slides. Whether they were created by glaciers, erosion, or other activity is up for debate—but you actually can slide down them on a visit!
Sacsayhuaman’s Ceremonial and Spiritual Sites
Sacsayhuaman is home to several ceremonial and spiritual structures. Among these sites is the Muyuq Marka, a circular tower believed to have been an observatory for tracking celestial bodies that governed religious and agricultural calendars. Nearby is the Temple of Lightning, a sacred space devoted to Illapa, the Incan god of thunder and rain.
The Inti Raymi Festival
On June 24th each year, Sacsayhuaman comes alive with the Inti Raymi Festival. This spirited event, honoring the sun god Inti, unites thousands in a dazzling display of costumes, music, and reenactments of ancient ceremonies.
Traveling Beyond Sacsayhuaman
Sacsayhuaman should just be one stop along your tour of the Sacred Valley. This majestic region is home to many Incan sites that must be seen to be appreciated—such as the terraced remnants of Pisac, the formidable fortress town of Ollantaytambo, and Moray’s enigmatic circular depressions. Whether you travel to Sacsayhuaman via taxi or take on an uphill hike, remember to acclimatize to Cusco’s lofty altitude…and read a few more of our guides to visiting Peru, of course!
Have you had the chance to visit the Sacred Valley and other areas of Peru? Share your experiences and advice with the Frayed Passport community!
Featured image by Luciano Rossitti Quevedo on Pexels.