We continue our tour of Cusco
Cusco Travel Blog› entry 19 of 25 › view all entries
We decided to make reservations for an afternoon City Tour with SAS Travel that would take us to the most important locations in and around Cuzco: The Cathedral, Santo Domingo Church and Coricancha, Sacsayhuaman, Q'enko, Puca Pucara and Tambomachay.
We spent the morning walking around and going to the Tourist Office because we had to buy the “Boleto Turistico” which is required for access to these sights. It can be bought at the Oficina Ejecutiva del Comité (OFEC), Av Sol 103, Cuzco.
There are three different kind of tickets:
- A full ticket (valid for ten days and for all sites), 70 soles;
- A student ticket (ISIC sudentcard required as proof), 35 Soles;
- A partial ticket, (only valid for one day and a limited number of
sites) 40 Soles.
We started our tour with a visit to the Cathedral which dominates the north-east side of the Plaza de Armas and sits
squarely on the foundations of the Inca Viracocha's palace.
The Cathedral's real magic lies in the mingling of history and legend. It is said that when the Cathedral was built an Inca prince was walled up in one of the towers and that when the tower falls the Inca will emerge to claim his birthright and free his people. After the earthquake of 1950 thousands of believers waited hopefully for the tower to collapse, but despite severe damage, they did not and were later repaired. We continued our tour of the Cathedral complex to El Triunfo.
El Triunfo is on the right hand side and was the first Christian church in Cusco. It was built on the site of Suntur Huasi, the main Inca armoury where the Spanish were trapped during Manco Inca's siege in 1536. When the Incas burned the city the thatched roof of Suntur Huasi caught fire, but then mysteriously went out. The Spanish later broke out and recaptured Sacsayhuaman, ending the siege. The church was built to commemorate this victory and the miracle.
Next we went to Santo Domingo Church and Coricancha.
The entire temple complex was also an intricate celestial observatory. Every summer solstice, the sun's rays shine directly into a niche - the tabernacle - in which only the Inca was permitted to sit. Along with the main temple dedicated to the Sun, there were others for the adoration of lesser deities - the Moon, Venus, Thunder and Lightning, and the Rainbow.
next stop was the Sacsayhuaman ruins. Visitors to this
magnificent Inca fortress, which overlooks the city of Cusco, cannot fail to be
impressed by the beauty and monumental scale of this important Inca
The main ramparts consist of three massive parallel walls zigzagging together for some 400m, designed to make any attacker expose his flanks. The massive blocks, the largest being 8.5m high and weighing nearly 300 tonnes, are fitted together with absolute perfection. The foundations are made of Yucay limestone brought from over 15km away. The outer walls are made from massive diorite blocks from nearby, and the inner buildings and towers are made from dark andesite some of it brought from over 35km away. With only natural fibre ropes, stone hammers and bronze chisels it must have been an enormous task. The chronicler Cieza de Leon, writing in the 1550's, thought that some 20,000 men had been involved in its construction: 4000 men cutting blocks from the quarries; 6000 dragging them on rollers to the site; and another 10,000 working on finishing and fitting them into position. According to legend, some 3000 lives were lost when one huge stone that was being dragged uphill broke free.
Sacsayhuaman played an important part in the final defeat of the Inca Empire by the Spanish. Pizarro's party entered Cusco unopposed in 1533 and lived there securely for more than two years before finally being caught unprepared by the rebellion of Manco Inca in 1536.
Manco's troops took the
fortress of Sacsayhuaman, overlooking the city, and used it as his base to
attack the Spanish.
At this site we had the chance to get a bird’s eye view of Cuzco. For panorama lovers the site was magnificent!!! We took great photos of the city.
Next on our Schedule was Q’enko. This is one of the finest examples of a rock artfully carved insitu showing complex patterns of steps, seats, geometric reliefs and a puma design. The rock is an excellent example of the Inca 'Rock Worship'. In Inca cosmological beliefs the Incas held large rocky outcrops in reverence, as if they possessed some hidden spiritual force. On top of the rock are zigzag channels which served to course chicha (local maize beer) or sacrificed llama blood for purposes of divination; the speed and route of the liquid, in conjunction with the patterns made in the rock, gave the answers to the priest's invocations.
We continued on to Puca Pucara, situated on a hill with superb views over the surrounding countryside. Puca Pucara was more likely a tambo, or kind of post house than an actual fortress. Travelers may have lodged here with their goods and animals before entering or leaving Cusco. An alternative theory is that it served as a guard post controlling the flow of people and produce between Cusco and the Sacred Valley.
Finally Tambomachay, commonly referred to as the 'Baños del Inca' or Inca baths, Tambomachay was a site for ritual bathing. The excellent quality of the stonework suggests that its use was restricted to the higher nobility, who maybe only used the baths on ceremonial occasions. The ruins basically consist of 3 tired platforms. The top one holds four trapezoidal niches that perhaps were used as seats; on the next level an underground spring emerges directly from a hole at the base of the stonework and from here cascades down to the bottom platform, creating a cold shower just high enough for an Inca to stand under. On this platform the spring water splits into two channels, both pouring the last meter down to ground level.
We returned to the hotel to freshen up and went out for dinner. The next day would exhaustive!