The impressive ruins of Sacsayhuaman (Cusco, Peru)
Sacsayhuaman is a must see for tourists visiting Cusco, Peru; Ranked 8 out of 87 attractions to see in Cusco by Tripadvisor.com. The former capital of the Inca Empire – Cusco – offers insight into the battles between the Incas and the Spaniards during the 1500’s; while also providing breath-taking views of the city and the surrounding country side simultaneously. With an altitude of 3,701 meters one should be mindful of water intake and pacing to avoid altitude sickness.
This once labyrinth-like fortress housed around 1,500 Incas. In 1533 Francisco Pizarro Gonzales, a Spanish conquistador led a small army of 13 men to the Inca territory to claim their new land. With two previous failed attempts in 1524 and 1526 Pizarro was very determined having already seen the riches of the Incas. The Spaniards based their attack from Rodadero Hill. The first night of the attack the Incas gained head way when Juan Pizarro, Francisco’s brother was killed by a strike to the head by a stone fired from an Inca slingshot. The second night the Spaniards devised a plan; launching a surprise attack with ladders the Spaniards forced the Incas into the 3 tall towers in Sacsayhuaman massacring them all.
Not much of Sacsayhuaman remains as of today. Until the 1930’s Spanish builders used the ancient site as a quarry to build their own structures. In addition to the abuse from the Spaniards, heavy rainfall damaged parts of the site in January of 2010. Unfortunately now only two foundations of the three historical towers remain in Sacsayhuaman.
Sacsayhuaman is now open from 7am until 6pm with the last guided tours beginning at around 5:15pm. The entrance fee of 17 soles covers 3 other ancient ruins in the area as well. You can purchase the Boleto Turistico Del Cusco for 130 soles around $55 USD for access to 16 different attractions including, Sacsayhuaman, Q’enqo, Puka Pukara and Tambomachay. Some tourists choose to take a taxi up to Tambomacay which runs about 20 soles and then walk through each ruin on their way back to Cusco ending in the most impressive Sacsayhuaman. Tambomacay, while much smaller in size still has a very interesting and intricate water system that is still working today. Puka Pukara situated across from Tambomacay offers great views of the valley of Cusco. Q’enqo, just down the road offers several photo opportunities as well. You can also book a horse riding tour through the ruins, which includes transportation but not the entrance fees.