Thursday, August 9, 2012

Journey of a Lifetime ( Part 8 ) Saqsaywaman

We also took a tour of Sacqsaywaman, which is an Inca fortress perched high up on the hill overlooking the city of Cusco. Saqsaywaman is a huge complex known for its series of walls built out of extremely large, black rocks. This intriguingly pronounced site ( sounds like "sexy woman" ) is the head of the Puma shape that forms the city of Cusco. Saqsaywaman was constructed over a period of seven decades, mainly in the 15th century, 

( panorama view of the fortress )

The site has huge blocks arranged and fitted perfectly together to form a zigzag configuration that runs for about 400 meters.  This fortress was built in homage to the God of Thunder as well as a defense mechanism against invaders.  Some of the blocks weigh as much as 300 tons. The outer walls are made from diorite some of which were brought from as far away as 30 km. The architectural and engineering expertise alone leaves you wondering about the knowledge at the time. According to Jesus, there were 20,000 men were involved in the construction. Legend has it that nearly 3,000 men were killed when one massive block fell while being rolled up the hill.

A closer look at the ruins show a fact even more intriguing than the site’s name. The massive rocks that make up the walls have been perfectly placed in the impeccable style that is common to Inca foundations. Despite its fortress-like structure, the site is thought to have been a temple to the sun. Across the grounds on a small hill lies the " Inca’s Throne ".

While wandering among the rocks in order to take more photos of the place, I felt overwhelmed by these incredible accomplishments.  How the ancient Incas conceived and built this complex--- the grouping of towers, terraces, and temples with premodern tools simply boggles the imagination. Gazing at the immense walls and precise rock placements, I sensed the mystery that archaeologists are still trying to unravel. The stones fitted so perfectly that no blade of grass or steel can slide between them. There was no mortar used. They often joined in complex and irregular surfaces that would appear to be a nightmare for the stone mason. 

There were some locals at the site with their llamas hoping to get a tip for photos. The friendly nature and disposition of the indigenous population will surely make a mark that you will carry with you for life. Just make sure to politely ask before taking pictures of the local and indigenous people, as well as offer a small and modest monetary gift. The price of one photo with the locals will cost you 1 sole ( pronounced soh-leh ) which is roughly $.50. Be sure to have a lot of small change if you want to take photos.

We went back to our bus and stopped at the top of the hills to try and get a panoramic view of Cusco and  at an overlook with a gigantic statue of Christ of the Pacific ( which they call Cristo Blanco ) to take some photos of the city from above.  According to Jesus that this statue is smaller than the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.

It was really a beautiful sight to see the ancient city with its orange roofs and how it is all tucked away in the Andes mountains.

Tomorrow.. we head off to lake Titicaca.

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