Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman
Sacsayhuamán (also known as Saqsay Waman) is an Inca walled complex near the old city of Cusco, at an altitude of 3,701 m.
Some believe the walls were a form of fortification, while others believe it was only used to form the head of the Puma that SaqsayWaman along with Cusco form when seen from above. Like much Inca stonework, there is still mystery surrounding how they were constructed. The structure is built in such a way that a single piece of paper will not fit between many of the stones. This precision, combined with the rounded corners of the limestone blocks, the variety of their interlocking shapes, and the way the walls lean inward, is thought to have helped the ruins survive devastating earthquakes in Cusco. The longest of three walls is about 400 meters. They are about 6 meters tall. Estimated volume of stone is over 6,000 cubic meters. Estimates for the largest limestone block vary from 128 tonnes to almost 200 tonnes.
The Spanish harvested a large quantity of rock from the walls of the structure to build churches in Cusco, which is why the walls are in perfect condition up to a certain height, and missing above that point. Sacsayhuamán is also noted for an extensive system of underground passages known as chincanas which connect the fortress to other Inca ruins within Cusco. Several people have died after becoming lost while seeking a supposed treasure buried along the passages. This has led the city of Cusco to block off the main entrance to the chincanas in Sacsayhuamán.
On March 13, 2008, archaeologists discovered the ruins of an ancient temple in the periphery of SaqsayWaman; it is believed to have been built by the Killke culture which occupied the site between 900 and 1200 AD.
Every June 24th in this place is celebrated one of the most important festivities in Peru , The Inti Raymi.
Horseback riding in Sacsayhuaman
Just north uphill from Cusco you can spend an afternoon horseback riding amongst a few ruins. Begin near SaqsayWaman and go to the water fountains of Tambomachay, the temple of Q’Enqo and the lookout at Puca Pucara.
This is a pleasant, leisurely place to practice riding amongst breathtaking scenery on docile Peruvian horses which have a smooth and elegant way about them. These rides at SaqsayWaman can be done any time of year.
Inti Raymi Festival – June 24 Yearly
The Inti Raymi Festival is the most important holiday of Cusco.
Held yearly on June 24 of every year Inti Raymi (or ‘festival of the Sun’ in Quechua) was an ancient Andean religious ceremony in honor of Inti (Father Sun). It took place every winter solstice in the Andes. The Inti Raymi was the most important of the four festivals celebrated in Cusco (as related by Inca Garcilaso de la Vega; 1539-1616).
It signified the beginning of a new cycle (since the Inca held that time was circular rather than linear or chronological) as the sun Father started to return closer to His children, longer days and the beginning of the planting season. Their celebration lasted 15 days with dances and sacrifices.
Warachikuy festival – september 15 yearly
The Warachikuy Festival is the rite of passage from youth to maturity exhibited through rigorous physical tests of skill and courage that would rank young males for their future military career (or exclude them).
In the time of the Inca’s Empire this was an annual event and ceremony. These rites were based on strict adherence to a series of tests of courage, bravery, skill, physical risks, fighting and games. Those who passed to the end of the contest received the appropriate recognition and distinction by the Inca. “Warachikuy” was the third Sunday in September of each year, held in the fortress of SaqsayWaman.