- Nature, Adventure & Sport
- Archaeological Site
- Place or Historical Monument
- Unesco World Heritage
Sacsaywaman dominates Cusco. From up there, the colossal walls of stone are its setting. When I first saw these enormous pieces of rock, some of which are 10 times bigger than me, I found them incredible. How on earth did they get there?
That is the mystery and the wonder of these Inca constructions. The capacity that this civilisation had to develop systems of this size to expand its empire. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
Did you know that the Inca method of building without mortar was a great way to prevent buildings collapsing during earth quakes? Peru is subject to a lot of seismic activity. When the Spanish arrived in Peru they destroyed everything that belonged to the previous civilisation in order to rebuild in their own fashion. But what they didn't take into account, unlike the Incas, was the seismic activity. As soon as there was an earthquake, their buildings were destroyed by Mother Earth!
There are some who say that when the Incas came and conquered Cusco, they built the city here in the shape of a Puma. The Sacsaywaman site is supposed to have been built up on the heights as the head of the animal. The Spanish colonists thought, due to its geographical position, that the structure must have been a military fort. But experts today agree that it was actually a religious temple.
With that little history lesson out of the way,it has to be said that Saksaywaman is one of the places you absolutely have to visit on your trip if you're interested in seeing ancient, lost cities. Because it's so easy to get to from the region's main tourist hotspot (and in fact the whole country's), namely Cusco, it can get very crowded with visitors. But this is of little importance because this is still a very impressive place to visit. Firstly there's the perfectly constructed Cyclopean stonework, with the boulders fitted perfectly flush together, one on top of the other, without the use of any kind of binding material. Then there's the mysteries that still enshroud the place today. And finally, there's the fact that the whole site stands in such a fantastic setting – I absolutely loved it. The view out over the city is also something special. If you happen to be in the area in the month of June, you'll be able to celebrate Inti Raymi, the Inca summer solstice (which takes place on the 24th rather than the 21st of the month) by attending the highly popular festival held here. Not having seen it myself, I can't offer you any personal opinion about what it's like.