Fortress Sacsayhuamán – the most impressive monument of the Incas

If you visit Peru, you should definitely miss the visit of Cuzco – the capital of the Incas, especially Sacsayhuaman [sac-say-hua-mahn]. It i sone of the most impressive monuments of the Incas. Although only 20% of its original size has been preserved till today. It is still unclear today, when you consider the size of enormous stone blocks, how was Sacsayhuamán built.

The name Sacsayhuamán means in Quechua “Satisfied Falcon”. Incan ruler Pachacuti started to built the fortress around 1440. The fortress should represent the head of a puma, Cuzco itself then represents its body. Although the area of Sacsayhuamán is enormous. It is only a fraction of what had been there in the Incan period. Thousands of workers worked on the construction of the fortress since the middle of the 15th century. We still do not know how they cut and moved blocks of stone of several tonnes. The biggest stone block is more then 300 tonnes heavy. You can find different figures in books, on the internet, and local guides will also give you other numbers.

Construction of the fortress

The fortress is built from various kinds of rock. Massive blocks of diorite were used for the outer earthwork. The foundations were built from Yucatán limestone that was transported from a quarry 15 kilometres away. Dark andesite from a quarry 35 kilometres away was used for the inner buildings. How they transported and worked these blocks of several tonnes remains a mystery till today. The numbers say that during its golden age, almost ten thousand people might have lived in Sacsayhuamán. When the Spanish conquistadors got to Cuzco a century later, they said it was the work of the devil. They could not comprehend how the primitive Indians might have built something like that. As a consequence, the whole place was dismantled and the blocks of stone were used for construction of houses, churches, and other buildings in Cuzco. The majority of the inner walls have therefore unfortunately not been preserved. The massive foundations were fortunately too heavy to move and therefore remained at there places till today. There are three winding lines of walls about 600 metres long. The defensive walls that had been almost 20 metres high with twenty two different kinds of walls were a certain form of defence. If anybody tried to overcome the walls at any place, they would be hit by a shot from another wall. These gigantic defensive walls perfectly fit together in a way that not even a knife blade could fit between them. They have not been damaged by the time, battles that took place on them, or frequent earthquakes.

The temple of the Sun

The layout of the walls of Sacsayhuamán was at the beginning of the theory that it was not only a fortress but much more. There used to be three big towers up at the battlement. Only the foundations have been preserved from them.  One of them, called Muyu Marca, was circular and was used as a water reservoir for the garrison. The other two – Kalla Marca and Paunca Marca – probably had religious significance and were used  during ritual sacrifices to the gods and to the worshipping of the Sun, Moon, stars, thunder and lightning.

Central even area in front of the walls is the place where the festival Inti Raymi takes place every year in June. Opposite the walls can be found the hill Rodadero, where archaeologists have found foundations of several other buildings. A chiselled and polished bench, known as The Throne of the Inca can be found at the hill. From these place, the ruler was able to overlook the whole promenade in front of the walls, where various celebrations, games and matches used to take place.

It is often quite unbelievable what where the ancestors able to leave for their descendants without the use of any mechanization.  

Source: Lomy a těžba