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Sacsayhuaman Fortress

Sacsayhuaman is located north of Cusco city. It’s located on top of a hill north of Cusco and it is about 2 km far from it. It is possible going there by bus by car or just walking up the hill because there is a nice hiking trail that goes from Cusco main square to this site. If deciding to go by car the trip takes about 15 minutes the longest. if deciding to go there walking the trip takes one hour the longest. As it was said before there is a hiking trail that goes up the hill to reach that site. The hiking trail is rather tought to go but very interesting due to the great views it gives to the walkers as they are getting up and up on it.

Sacsayhuaman is a large archeological site made up of three main areas the southern area the middle area and the northern area about the southern area or first area it is located just turning the top of the hill located north right next to Cusco city. It means by the opposite hillside. This part is the most important of all those making up sacsayhuaman archeological site because it is made of huge architectonic and civil engineering works it’s made of three massive terraced walls rising over sixty feet and built in a zigzag fashion that goes along over three hundred meters long and next to the esplanade. Sacsayhuaman was probably built for ceremony purposes because there are strongly uphold theories stating that incas didn’t know war so their conquers really meant that so It is thought at present times that incas conquered other nations by means of conviction benefit partnership and cooperation far from means of forcing them to submit to their winner nation will it is known that within the terraced walls, there were three big towers the largest of which was sixty five feet long with a rectangular base rising up to five floors.

What remains of Sacsayhuaman at present time considerably a poor image compared to what it was in Inca times because the invaders deliberately destroyed most of that site, thought the eyewitnesses before that destruction time started claimed that it should be ranked as one of the wonders of the world because of several reasons among which we can quote that it is made of really huge pieces of stone what drivers to think about the impossibility of taking them from the quarry to the work site additionally considering that incas didn’t know the wheel for transportation purpose. Then about the impossibility of shaping them so that those huge pieces of stone could fit to each other that exactly having each one a non standard shape next to the others additionally considering that incas didn’t know steel which in old times was the only known material of enforced use to carve stone everywhere in the world as if it weren’t enough considering the impossibility of lifting up the huge pieces of stone to place them on top of the others not having really huge cranes. Nobody national or international researchers can figure out how these works could be done by human beings. Every visitor even more if they are learned about civil engineering matters find these buildings as impossible to put up. It is even thought that only superhuman beings were able to built it. Lots of bachelor civil engineers from all over the world come to Cusco on purpose far from tourism to study and to find out the possible ways to take the huge pieces of stone to their places and to build those structures and systems to just conclude that building Sacsayhuman is a literally impossible work for even current human beings with all their advanced and sophisticated building means including the use of computers and huge cranes so sacsayhuaman is a topic to study and to make engineering degrees thesis all the time.

Due to all that previous reasoning Sacsayhuaman is one of the most important archaeological sites inherited from the Inca Society which due to lots of its qualities is thought as one of the most interesting and incredible human works in all history. When the spaniard invaders arrived in these lands for the first time logically they couldn’t believe that such a work could be put up by just human beings. Even more considering that its supposed builders were primitive people. So the invaders fanatic religious belief lead them to think that all that greatness was a demons or malign spirits work.

The original name of this site is controversial so having lots of interpretations the name used by tradition is sacsayhuaman which derives from the quechua verb “”Saqsay” such as it sounds means “satiate” or “eat all you want” and “huaman” noun which such as it sounds means falcon so it means “get satiated falcon”. On the other hand history proves that Cusco city was shaped after a puma, which is a peruvian mountain lion or mountain cougar corresponding to Sacsayhuaman being the head of that mentioned puma shape so perhaps this name may be a degeneration of the word “”Saqsahuma”, “Saqsa” meaning marble and “huma” meaning head, referring to that mentioned puma head.

This site facility building process was probably started during pachacuteq Inca reign which period comes after 1438, Mr Garcilaso de la Vega who was one of the most important peruvian chroniclers and writers about Inca culture despite all the criticism his description got, is thought as the one who best described this place. Garcilaso states that this sitebuilding probably took about fifty years,so until reaching Huayna Cápac Inca reign, who was the second to the last Inkas. So when the Spaniards arrived in Cusco, Sacsayhuaman was completely finished and fully functional. Pedro Cieza de Leon, states that about twenty thousand men worked to put it up. It is thought too, that that staff of workers were not permanent during the period of building, because they were probably replaced temporarily but considering,that probably in the Inca Society there were no slaves, and since money was not known in the Inca culture, this staff of workers did their work as a way of paying their taxes to the government, meanwhile others paid for the same concept contributing with food, clothing, tools,assistance to the workers, etc. This place could comfortably house over 5,000 people, so as told by later Spanish historians as having “too many rooms and towers for one person to visit them all”.

Despite the lots of the written information we can get for this place,which ones name it as “Sacsayhuaman Fortress”; most of the chroniclers and learned people state that it rather was built to be the main Temple of the Sun.Mr. Garcilaso de la Vega states that it was”The House of the Sun”. Cieza de Leon states on his way, that it was “The Royal House of the Sun”, so stating that it was a temple assigned to the priests and sacrifices to the gods. So, it is evident that Saqsayhuaman, far from being a fortress, rather had a religious function,and that is why it was so very strongly protected. The confusion came up in 1536, when Manco Inca gave it a war-use, in order to fight the invaders that had taken downtown Cusco City. The Inca defenders positioned their fight in this place, as a resource, and not as a military place. So, when the invaders came over here to reject its defenders they found here a real fight. Precisely in this place Juan Pizarro, Francisco’s brother, was killed by a piece of stone thrown by one of the Inca fighters by the way as a historical fact, a quechua warrior mythically and traditionally known as Kawide, who actually was an anonymous Inca nobleman, fought the invaders with an unusual bravery, so being quoted by the chroniclers for his outstanding war-performance. That fight to get Cusco City back in favor of the Inca society failed all in all, being Manco Inca or later Called Manco II humiliated and put in prison, and his warriors defeated.
The very Garcilaso wrote that during his childhood he used to visit and to play in this place, telling that it was a complex buildings place, something like a labyrinth, referring to its several underground passages and doorways. He also quoted that to visit those complex passages or tunnels, it was necessary the help of a guide, not to get lost in them. Originally, there were three walls built in this place, which foundations are still seen at present time, being them the most spectacular remains of that fabulous building which according to chroniclers had no comparison with any other one in history. What exists of Saqsayhuaman at present time, is not an isolated building complex from each other, but a part of a bigger system made up of several wakas, civil buildings reservoirs, water-channels, and a big surrounding territory which at present time is officially called “Sacsayhuaman Archeological National Park”.
The Southern Part, or the Tree parallel Walls.- This is the first Part in Sacsayhuaman and it is made up of three parallel walls built in different levels, built one above the other in huge pieces of limestone. Those walls are built on a zig-zag fashion, shaped as a whole after an enormous lightning form that because of its shape lots of authors hint that it represents the teeth of the mentioned puma shape, which this site symbolized. The boulders used for the first or lower level of the wall are the biggest ones. So for example, there is one boulder which size is 8.50 m high(28 feet) probably weighing about 140 tons. The size of those boulders making up the wall, rank this building as being of cyclopean or megalithic building. Some authors think that those three levels symbolize the world three levels,mentioned by all religions in the world and so the andean religion. Beginning from the bottom, the lowest level would symbolize the “Uhu Pacha” which in Quechua language means the Under-world, then the next upper level symbolizing the “Key Pacha” which means this material world, and the top level “Hanan Pacha” which means the heaven. Additionally, those three levels were closely related to the Inca three sacred animals in the mentioned order: The Amaru or mach’hwi or snake, which belongs in the underworld; the puma or the mountain cougar or lion which belongs in this world, and the Andean condor or Kuntur which belongs in the heaven or the upper-world. Due to the zigzagging fashion of the walls, lots of authors think that this part of the place might symbolize the ILLAPA GOD or the lightning made up of three components: the spark, the thunder, and the lightning. It is possible that all those mentioned components may be not excluded from each other, because there are certain divine interactions between them, and as it is known “three” was the key number among all religions in the world, so the Incas’.
What is left from the three walls is made of limestone pieces which in this case were used just in order to build the main walls bases or foundations which should be built in andesite which are blackish igneous pieces of stone, which quarries are located in a place called Huaqoto 8 Km far to the east in the mountains North of San Jerónimo district.
Andesite pieces of stone were used to build the main walls, because they are not so soft as limestone, so they can be carved finely as you can see. So, this building style belongs in the “Sedimentary or Imperial Inca” type building technique.
Pitifully, after the invaders arrival, a Sacsayhuaman destruction time began which lasted for about 400 years since 1536, when Manco Inca waged the war against the Spaniards, using this site as a fortress to fight. After defeating Manco Inca, those invaders began to use those pieces of stone to build their houses and palaces in the city, subsequently the Church Counsel of the City ordered in 1559 to take those Andesite pieces of stone to build up the Cathedral. Even in the 1930s Cusco regular citizens were cleared to take those pieces of stone to build their houses, just having to pay a small amount of money as taxes or something like that. So as a conclusion, these archaeological site suffered from a destruction process which lasted for about 400 years, incredibly being used as a regular quarry to supply material for the building-works in the city.
Garcilaso wrote that on the top of those three walls, there were three stone-towers placed in a triangle-fashion. The main one of those towers placed in the middle was cylinder-shaped, so named as “Muyuc Marka”, which means the Cylinder-shaped tower. The second tower was named “Paucar Marka” and the third one named “Sallac Marka”. These last two ones were rectangular shaped. In 1933, thank to a Peruvian Parliament clearance, on purpose to commemorate the fourth century from Cusco City Foundation time, some works were done in order to clean up and get useful some deteriorated historical sites buildings. Those works were led by Mr.Luis E. Valcarcel, who after having read Garcilaso’s books, dug on the top of the hill where those three walls are placed and found those tower foundations described by the Cusquenian Chronicler so proving Garcilaso’s description truth.About Muyuc-Marka, the cylinder-shaped tower, there are at present time three concentric ring-shaped foundations of what were its three levels. The original height of that destroyed tower is unknown, but it probably was important because it got a view of the whole city.Even more, probably its walls were decorated in components symbolizing the regional flora and fauna made of gold and silver. That tower central part was used as a big water reservoir, to so supply all the site with water. That water was gotten in the higher part of the northern mountains, where there were also several other reservoirs, and transported to the Muyuq-Marka by an underground channel made of carved stone, and coated by the inner part in clay which made it impermeable setting it up as quite a siphon system. Even at present time, those carved water channels are found on the surface of the tower underground foundations. Moreover, between those mentioned concentric rings there are found other foundations of 12 smaller transversal walls, which were probably built to protect the main building from the enormous water pressure stored inside it. About those transversal foundations some researchers state that it actually was the gigantic solar-clock, but this statement is just imagination.
The last decades have witnessed the appearing of lots and lots of supposed prophets who pose as Andean Esoteric or Mystic tour-guides, which veracity we don’t know for certain yet. They state that the axle of the circular base is a strategic spot where a person can get “recharged” with “positive energy” and magnetic and spiritual power. Others quote that it is aphonic place that produces certainly interesting echoes as a response to sounds, which could be voices from the visitors.
The Plaza or Esplanade.- The Plaza is located right in front of those three leveled walls, and going next to them all along the site. This plaza is commonly called the esplanade or “Chukipampa”,which become to be the second part of Sacsayhuaman archaeological complex site, which surely was used to carry out certain and important open air ceremonies, by the priests and authorities in charge of leading them. Although it is estimated that all the site could house about five thousand people, it is thought that this place must have been used by very few people, because in Inca-times the cities and towns were inhabited only by noble people, while the common people lived in the open country near their farms and growing fields, as this nation main economic support was agriculture. In towns and cities, there were some places called “Wacas” which means shrines or sacred places to be used only by the Inca and the priests thus the temples and shrines were exclusive and protected, not because they were fortresses, but because of their religious duty. So, it is reasonable to think that Sacsayhuaman was saved for the nobility exclusive use, as it most probably was a temple, rather than a fortress as it was thought in the past. Since 1944, The Intirraymi Ceremony takes place in this esplanade, every June 24th, to commemorate the most important festival of the year which took place in Inca times and which took place when reaching the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, which takes place precisely on June 24th. It is thought too that a festival called Warachicuy, which New-Gentlemen arming-Ceremony took place in this esplanade. Warachicuy was a kind of initiation of the guys just reaching the adult age, during which those just young guys each got their “wara” which is a kind of the men under-wear that symbolizes the male-citizenship. In order to get their wara, all the just young-men had to take several athletic tests and sham battles, so after passing all those tests successfully they got their citizenship quality, so their ability to get married and to serve the nation as citizens, soldiers, or public-functionaries.
The North Part.- It is made up of there mains of terraces and other several walls and a compact and monolithic rocky-hill located right across from the Three Parallel Walls, so making up the third part of this archeological complex site. On top of those semi-destroyed terraces and rocky-mass about 40m Height a natural “stock protrusion is located, which actually is a diorite formation that works as a toboggan-system which people use to slide down just for fun. On its upper level, there are carved in stone something like steps of a stair-case which is thought that it was the Inca’s throne, which according to some author shave a certain relationship with some solar-activity observations. A wooden Christian cross is located in this spot too, which memorizes the Pope John Paul II visiting in 1985. Farther to the North, there are some remains of a magnificent circular water reservoir discovered by digging-works, a few years ago. Due to its architectonic features, it is thought that this reservoir was used for religious ceremonies and other activities. According to some studies, there were lots of water reservoirs, tanks, water channels, and fountains in this place in Inca times. It is thought too that in this place, there was an artificial lagoon which surface was accessorily used as a gigantic mirror, to so during cloudless-nights the Inca astronomers could observe the stars and shapes some key-numbers about constellations activity. Northeast of this reservoir, there is a karstic formation, which is an area of irregular limestone in which erosion has generated fissures, sinkholes, underground streams, and caverns, as a result of the calcium carbonate contained in limestone dissolution caused by water, which possibly drilled a tunnel called small “chinkana” which means a hiding or getting lost tunnel. It is thought that Incas modified and widened its original measures so that it could work as a nice underground passage for people to walk bending down from the entrance to the far end, along a way of about fifty or sixty meters long. Some researchers think that this place was probably a temple dedicated to the Uju-Pacha or the Underworld and so to the cult to snakes and corpses. A tittle farther to the north about some one hundred meters far, right under a huge carved boulder which the people call as the “tired stone” which name comes from the signs showing that this boulder never reached its assigned spot where it was expected to work making up a part of some building, due to obvious difficulties, another bigger tunnel is located which is called as the “Big Chinkana” which is long, but flooded and closed at present time. The tradition states that this is a very long passage for people to underground-traveling to Cusco City, but there are no proves that it to be certain. At present time, this tunnel entrance is closed, probably because it might become dangerous for the people to get into.

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