Saqsaywaman, the fortress

Cusco Travel Blog

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The Inca fortress Saqsaywaman

I don’t know if Cusco was ever named as a cultural capital, or has recieved a similar accolade, but the city is not to be missed for anybody interested in history and culture. Cusco was the capital of the Inca empire and allthough the Spanish broke down the Inca palaces to built the churches that are to be found on the main plaza, the foundations of the old city are all around you.

 

The best known wall of Inca stones lies in the much trotted alley that connects the main plaza to San Blas. Here you can find the 12-sided stone, made famous by a picture and a good example of the astounding Inca way of building. You can easily recognise it by the costumed Inca emperor next to it who will point it out to you.

 

Most people here speak Quechua, the Inca language.

Me at Saqsay
According to a Korean guy I met, Quechua sounds very much like Chinese. Tourists can take courses. Also, keep an eye out for the Inca striped rainbow flag. Many houses have an Inca flag and there is a big one visible on the plaza de armas on Sundays.

 

The old Cusco was built in the shape of a puma, and if you take the map you can clearly see the lines that make up its shape. The head of the puma was/is situated on top of the nearby hill. A massive fortress was built here, Saqsaywaman (say: sexy woman; a long-running joke). The heavy climb to the top is a good preparation for the Inca Trail. 5.000 soldiers could be stationed here in three big towers, on top of a three-layered plateau. The Spanish still managed to destroy it, but most stones where so big that they were left standing.

 

Saqsaywaman may be the most impressive Inca ruin after Machu Picchu. The three-tiered walls flow in 22 waves, each wave representing a tooth of the puma head. Too bad the towers are gone, but there is still the excellent view over Cusco.

 

When the Spanish conquered Saqsaywaman during the battle of Cusco, this was a place of astonishing deeds. There is a story of a common Inca warrior, who might be the only common Inca warrior ever described in the old Spanish chronicles of the conquest of the Incas. This warrior was the last man standing on one of the three towers, while the other two had fallen to the Spanish. This man fought with amazing ferocity with a sword and helmet that he had stolen from the Spanish. But even he could not hold the fortress and when he saw that the cause was lost, he fell down in anguish. He stuffed his mouth with sand and rubbed his face with dirt in shame. Then he covered his face with his cape and jumped from the tower, committing suicide. The Spanish were very disappointed and had wanted to take him alive. “He fought as bravely as the ancient Romans” they said.

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The Inca fortress Saqsaywaman
The Inca fortress Saqsaywaman
The 12 sided stone
The 12 sided stone
Me at Saqsay
Me at Saqsay
View over Cusco from Saqsaywaman
View over Cusco from Saqsaywaman
On our way to Saqsaywaman
On our way to Saqsaywaman
The Inca fortress Saqsaywaman
The Inca fortress Saqsaywaman
The Inca fortress Saqsaywaman
The Inca fortress Saqsaywaman
The Inca fortress Saqsaywaman
The Inca fortress Saqsaywaman
The Inca fortress Saqsaywaman
The Inca fortress Saqsaywaman
three levels
three levels
The plaza de armas
The plaza de armas
Cusco
photo by: Vlindeke