Saqsaywaman & The Sacred Valley
Trip Start Aug 15, 2008
90Trip End Aug 14, 2009
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Saqsaywaman (aka Sexy Woman)
Saqsaywaman is a huge, three tiered defensive fortress for Cusco (although only about 20% remains) & is one of the best examples of Inca dry Stonework. The stones are huge & each must weigh many tons. There is speculation about how they got the stones erected.
The shape of the fortress is supposed to represent the head of a Puma with zigzag teeth, the body being the city of Cusco itself. The whole fortress is constructed using the mortarless dry wall technique & took thousands of workers about 25 years to build. It had easily defended narrow gateways & doors in the walls. However, the Incas were defeated by the Spanish in one of the bloodiest battles & thousands of Inca bodies littered the site attracting swarms of condors. This is immortalised by the inclusion of 8 Condors in the Cusco Coat of Arms.
We decided to see another Inca fortress at Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. We were told where to catch a minibus, what we weren't told was that the bus only went when full - so we spent 45 minutes in an unventilated minibus waiting to go. The 2 hour drive was hot, dusty & bumpy & at the end, the driver thought we wanted to train station, so he dropped us off half a mile past the Inca ruins - still, it was a pleasant walk back.
The tiered fortress was built on a steep hillside above the town which is in a deap valley. This was one of the few places where the Conquistadores suffered a major defeat by the Incas who sneakily flooded the valley & dropped things from a great height on them.
The city itself, with its dusty cobblestone streets, is one of the best examples of Inca city planning & has been continuously inhabited for 700 years - the streets get cleaned regularly every 100 years!
There are some seriously large stones in the site which have been brought down from high in the mountain. I think they must have had someone like David Copperfield working for them to do the levitation.
There is a temple to Mother Earth with 5 huge stones separated by slithers of stone to give resilience to earthquakes - clever buggers, those Incas.
In the aquare there is a statue of Pachacutec, the first warrior Inca, with an enormous weapon - no wonder they worshipped him.