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Sacsayhuaman Archeological Complex

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Sacsayhuaman Archeological Complex
Sacsayhuaman is an impressive complex of Inca constructions built with enormous monolithic stones. It is one of the most mysterious constructions in the whole continent. One of the bloodiest battles between the Spanish and the Incas took place there.

Sacsayhuaman Archeological Complex

Sacsayhuaman Archeological Complex
Overview
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Sacsayhuaman is an impressive complex of Inca constructions located 2 kilometers northwest of the center of the city of Cusco, at approximately 3700 m. It was built with enormous monolithic stones (some weighing more than 200 tons !) perfectly carved for an impeccable fit. They fit so perfectly, that it is impossible to even insert a knife blade between them. It is one of the most mysterious constructions in the whole continent, as its function is not exactly known, being both a military fortress and a temple dedicated to the Sun. It is also a mystery how this people, who did not know the iron, who did not use pulleys or tensile strength from horses or oxen, could transport and lift stone blocks of such a weight to build these constructions. In 500 years, these questions have not been answered yet.

It is thought that the construction of Sacsayhuaman started during the reign of Inca Pachacutec (1438-1471), continued during his son’s, Tupac Yupanqui (1471-1493) and was finished during the reign of Huayna Capac (1493-1525), his grandson. The construction of the monumental complex lasted between 50 and 70 years. It is estimated that the work of 20000 men was required to complete it.

Although its impressive size, the current remains of the complex do not represent more than 20% of the original. This is due to looting by the Spaniards and eventually by the inhabitants of the area, to build churches and houses. The stones that were too large, and could not be easily moved, remain at the site. The outline designed by Pachacutec had the shape of the head of a puma and the body of this sacred animal was the Inca capital, Cusco, lying below the fortress. It comprises several sectors : Sacsayhuaman, Rodadero (or Suchuna), the Chukipampa Esplanade (or Chuquipampa ) and Chincanas.

Una puerta dentro de la murallaThe sector of Sacsayhuaman, located in the southern part of the complex has a triangular shape. Two sides form an extension of the flanks of the hill on which the complex is located. The third side is formed by three walls of gigantic stones, some weighing more than 200 tons and standing more than 9 meters tall. The enclosed area could be reached through the main entrance, located in the middle of the wall. There is not much left of this sector, destroyed by the Spaniards to dismantle the fortress; stones were removed to build churches and houses during colonial times, and more recently, until Republican times. Of the three towers once found in this part of the site, only the foundations remain. The first tower (to the west), Muyucmarca, was about 20 meters high, and had a 22-meter diameter and cylindrical shape. Its walls were covered by gold. It is famous because in 1536, during the battle of Sacsayhuaman, a soldier of the Inca army called Cahuide, threw himself from the highest point of the tower to prevent being caught by the Spaniards. The other two towers, Sallacmarca (in the center) and Paucamarca (to the east) had a rectangular shape.

The Rodadero (or Suchuna, or Sunchuna) is formed by a natural formation of volcanic rock located north of the Sacsayhuaman sector and separated from this by the Chukipampa Esplanade. It has a series of undulations forming parallel grooves on the rock that are similar to slides. On the top of the hill, there are some carved benches, nowadays called the "Throne of the Inca". From this point, there is an excellent view of the entire complex. In the Rodadero,  agricultural terraces, tombs, tunnels and stairs carved in stone have been found. Most recently, a spring supplying water to a round well, which was the starting point of a complex network of channels, was also found. Located north of the Rodadero, we find Chincanas, a group of archaeological remains carved in stone.

Una parte de la murallaSacsayhuaman was the scenario of an intense battle between the Spanish conquistadors and the Incas. In March 1534, the Spaniards reached Cusco and settled in the Imperial Inca City. However, part of the nobles of the Inca Empire was fighting during the first years of the colony under the orders of Manco Capac II (Manco Inca), who was initially an ally of Francisco Pizarro, but eventually and after witnessing multiple abuses by the Spaniards against him and his people, decided to escape and rebel. In May 1536, he managed to besiege the city of Cusco, where Hernando Pizarro, brother of Francisco, in command of 200 Spaniards and a great number of allied indigenous people, decided to defend Cusco at any cost. The situation of the conquistadors worsened when an outpost of Manco Inca’s troops captured the fortress of Sacsayhuaman, which controlled the entire city of Cusco. The Spaniards started then a fierce battle to regain the fortress. In the tough struggle, Juan Pizarro, brother of Francisco and Hernando, died because of a stone thrown from one of the towers of the fortress. The defenders started to run out of ammunition (arrows and stones), water supply, and courage. The High Inca Priest ordered to abandon the fight but many captains decided to remain there. One of them was the famous “Cahuide” (or "Inca Cullash"), who died after throwing himself from the highest point of the Muyucmarca tower to prevent being caught by the Spaniards. But the Incas could not resist much longer and finally, Hernando managed to retake the control of the fortress. However, the siege of the Incas was not finished with the defeat at Sacsayhuaman and Cusco’s stalking continued for many more months from the fortress of Ollantaytambo.

Nowadays, the fortress enjoys peace and quiet. And according to thousands of people who visit it every year in search of a site full of energy, it is an excellent place for meditation. The esplanade is also the stage of the Inti Raymi festivity, where each year on June 24th, the Inca ritual of worshipping the Inca sun god or Inti, is performed. During Inca times, the Inti Raymi was the most important of the four festivities celebrated in Cusco and marked the middle of the year, as well as the mythical Inca origins. It lasted 15 days, which included dancing and sacrifices. Currently, local people dress themselves with colorful typical clothes and perform typical dances, thus repeating the traditions of their ancestors. In order to participate at the festivity, thousands of visitors from all over the world book their seats months in advance.
Complete list of tours
To see all the agencies with tours to the Sacsayhuaman Archeological Complex, you can click here.
Location
The Sacsayhuaman Archeological Complex is located 2 km northwest of the Plaza de Armas of Cusco (+/- 15 min).
 
District : Cusco
Province : Cusco
Department : Cusco
 
Coordinates : -13.50805, -71.98210
Altitude
3700 m
Opening hours
Opening days : Daily
Hours : From 7:00am to 6:00pm

Approximate visit duration : 3 hours

Guided tours : Yes (but there is no official guides)
Visits Languages​​ : Spanish and English (see with the guides if they speak other languages)
Entrance fees
Entrance with Tourist Ticket ("Boleto Turístico") only. Tourist Tickets can be purchased at COSITUC. They can also be purchased at most tourist sites. You can only pay the Tourist Ticket at archaeological sites in cash and in Soles (no payment cards accepted).

With Integral Cusco Tourist Ticket ("Boleto Turístico del Cusco Integral") :
Valid for Chinchero, Moray, Ollantaytambo, Pikillacta, Pisac, Pukapukara, Q'enko, Sacsayhuaman, Tambomachay, Tipon, Qosqo Native Art Center, Monument to the Inca Pachacutec, Museum of Contemporary Art, Folk Art Museum, Qoricancha Site Museum (not the complex), Regional History Museum.

Foreign adult: S/. 130.00
Foreign student: S/. 70.00
National adult: S/. 70.00
National student: S/. 40.00

With Partial Cusco Tourist Ticket - Circuit I ("Boleto Turístico del Cusco Parcial - Circuito I") :
Valid for Pukapukara, Q'enko, Sacsayhuaman, Tambomachay.

Foreign adult: S/. 70.00
Foreign student: S/. 70.00
National adult: S/. 40.00
National student: S/. 40.00

Payment cards accepted : None
How to get there ?
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There are three ways to get from the center of Cusco to the Sacsayhuaman Archeological Complex :

1) Walking from the Plaza de Armas, it takes about 30 minutes.

First option : exit to the north of the Plaza de Armas by Calle Suecia (opposite to the Temple of the Company of Jesus), take the small Calle Huaynapata to the right and, reaching Calle Pumacurco, climb to the left to reach the foot of Sacsayhuaman where a path leading to the entrance can be found.

Second option : exit to the west of the Plaza de Armas by Cuesta del Almirante (to the left of the Cathedral of Cusco) and take the first street on the left, Calle Ataúd. Turn right on Calle Huaynapata and, reaching Calle Pumacurco, climb to the left until you reach the foot of Sacsayhuaman where a path leading to the entrance can be found.

2) By taxi : Information to be completed

3) By combi or colectivo : Information to be completed
Contact
COSITUC is the authority responsible for the sale of the Cusco Tourist Ticket. It provides information on tourist sites in the region of Cusco.
Additional information
Photos Allowed : Yes
Wheelchair access : No
Nearby tourist attractions
Cathedral of CuscoCathedral of Cusco
To be published very soon ...



Plaza de Armas of CuscoPlaza de Armas of Cusco
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Church of the Society of JesusChurch of the Society of Jesus
The Church of the Society of Jesus, located on the southeast side of the Plaza de Armas of Cusco, has the most beautiful façade of the city. It has an impressive main altar 21 meters tall and 12 meters wide completely gilded with gold flakes.
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To see all the tourist attractions of the city of Cusco, you can click here.
To see all the tourist attractions of the department of Cusco, you can click here.
Nearby tourist attractions
The Sacsayhuaman Archeological Complex is located in the city of Cusco.

Nearby cities :
Urubamba : 46 km (by road)
Ollantaytambo : 65 km (by road)
Abancay : 190 km (by road)

Major cities :
Puno : 339 km (by road)
Arequipa : 473 km (by road)
Lima
: 1069 km (by road)
Department
The Sacsayhuaman Archeological Complex is located in the department of Cusco.

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  • Sacsayhuaman Archeological Complex
  • Sacsayhuaman Archeological Complex
  • Sacsayhuaman Archeological Complex
  • Sacsayhuaman Archeological Complex
  • Sacsayhuaman Archeological Complex
  • Sacsayhuaman Archeological Complex

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