What is Sacsayhuaman Cusco? How to walk from Cusco to Saqsaywaman?

1. History

Sacsayhuaman Cusco | The Spanish Chroniclers, Mestizos e Indigenous as well as archaeologists and historians from nowadays agreed that the construction of this fortress happened during the reign of Inca Pachacutec emperor in the XV century, the project demanded the work of thousands of specialized people in the masonry, it is calculated that at least 20 thousand people were required to work per day for about 40 years.

2. How was Sacsayhuaman built? — Architecture

For the building, the architects used about 5000 stones and many of them are so large that they measure up to 4 meters in height and 125 tons in weight. The type of stone used is limestone.

The Quarry for Saqsayhuaman was located about 2 kilometres northwest of this fortress. In this place the stones were broken into movable sizes (NO Cuttting, To split up and To cut don´t have the same connotation) with bronzes, expansion by fire, contraction by water and friction by percussion which were caused by using bronze hammers.

Transportation: They used llama and alpaca fiber, stone and wood rollers, ramps and thousands of people; considers that in Saqsayhuman there is a lot of space, which facilitates the transportation of cyclopean stones. In the Inca period there were three principles of mutual help or reciprocity: Ayni, La Minka and Mita, out from those these three principles, Mita was a tax that most people had to pay in shapes of labour (No money), therefore under this conception there was no shortage of man power, apart from that consider that the population in the Inca period was about 8 million.

The polishing of the edges of the stones facing outside were made by using sand, water and harder stones to generate the abrasion.

3. Facts – Important Information for Travellers

3.1 Description:

It is a cyclopean construction that had political and religious purpose. Cusco city originally had a city wall, Saqsayhuman Fortress was part of it, appart from that this fortress is located on a higher sea level location (It is located on on top of a mountain in the northwest Cusco city). We also know that on the upper part of the fortress there were 3 watchtowers to keep an eye on any possible atach.

One of those circular tower was about 30 meters high and it was also the eye of the Puma (the city of Cusco had the morphology of the Puma, the head of the Puma was Saqsayhuaman), according to the writings of the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega a half-blood chronicler.

Some historians point out that this fortress was also dedicated to the Lightning God or Illapu (in the Quechua language), for its zigzagging shapes that can be seen on the wall designs.

3.2 What to see in Sacsayhuaman?

a. The Watchtowers

There were 3 towers known as Muyucmarca (or Cahuide´s tower), Paucamarca and Sallaqmarca, you can still see nowadays the foundations.

b. The Zigzag walls

The zigzagging shaped walls are very prominent in the first bastion where you can also see the largest stone pieces.

c. The doors

There are three main doors with a trapezoidal shape for a better distribution of the upper weight towards the lower parts. These doors or gates are known as Ajawanapunku, T’iopunku and Wiracochapunku.

d. The Suchuna or The Slide Rock (Rodadero)

The Slide Rock is located at about 7 minutes walk from the ruins of Saqsayhuman, it is scientifically known that a volcano existed millions years ago at this place, which gave rise to this natural diorite Rolling Stone (volcano lava), if you have children you have to visit this place yes or yes. The term Suchuna is Quechua, it means “place where one can roll down or slide”

e. The Inca’s Throne

It is a stone structure sculpted perfectly on a on-site stone. It is very close to the Rolling Stones.

f. The Chincanas or Tunnels

They are underground passageways of natural origin, there are three of them, two of them were sealed off at the beginning of the 21st century, some attempt were made to find the end of both tunnels without success, according to legends it is believed that one of them connects with the Qoricancha temple and the other with Sayhuaman watchtowers, this fact was never proved, so they are premises based on legends only.

The only Chinkana open to the public measures about 15 meters distance, it is located very close to the Suchuna or Rolling Stone.

3.3 How to visit Sacsayhuaman?

You can do it on your own or book the City tour of Cusco + Sacsayhuamán.

3.4 Location:

It is located at about 2km away from the historic center of Cusco.

3.5 At what times can you visit?

This complex is open from 8am to 5pm, Monday through Sunday.

3.6 Tickets and Price for Sacsayhuaman

To enter this archaeological complex you must buy the Cusco Tourist Ticket at Avenida el Sol 185 from 8am to 5:30 pm, Monday through Sunday.

Prices may vary according to your nationality, the price is 130 Soles for tourists, 70 Soles for Peruvians, remember that the Cusco Tourist Ticket is a document that will let you access to many attractions in Cusco city and the Cusco region (16 attractions package), some tourists don´t want to pay that amount of money, so they buy only the partial ticket which costs 70 Soles.

You can also buy this ticket at the same attraction, the same day of your excursion, do always bring local currency (Soles, No USD is accepted), consider that if you buy the ticket the same day of your activity, the Partial Tickets may run out sometimes.

In Conclusion to access this place you need to buy the Tourist Ticket, you will not be able to buy an individual Ticket Only for this Place.

4. Sacsayhuaman for free — without Tourist Ticket

There are many tourists who ask about the possibility of visiting this complex without paying the entrance ticket, well as proffessionals don´t recommend doing so becasue it is illegal, nontheless we have seen many tourists “visiting” this site very early in the morning (5am to 6am) without paying the entrance fee, taking advantage of the absence of the park rangers. The park rangers start working from 8am.

The bottom line: It is possible “visiting” this site withoout paying the fee at least very earky in the morning, however it is not legal, we have even seen and heard in the news that those tourists who enter this place without paying this site are removed from this park by the tourism police of Cusco city. We don’t believe this is the experience you would love having in Cusco!

5. How to walk to Sacsayhuaman from Cusco?

Consider that we can always assist you with a tour guide, we have our best english speaking guides (see our reviews) ready to help you or just check all details below so that you can make it on your own.

5.1 Book FREE Sacsayhuaman tour

Sign up for our free tour of Sacsayhuamán, visit this architectural jewel with authorized Guides. Check our comments here, follow us on Instagram.

5.2 By Foot

From the historical center to Saqsayhuaman on foot takes 40 minutes, the route is very steep. The first thing you have to do is, Get to the San Cristobal church and there ask the locals for the route to Saqsayhuaman, don’t worry, you won’t get lost. Click here for Google Maps of Saqsayhuaman.

5.3 In taxi

From the historical center of Cusco to Saqsayhuaman by taxi takes 10 minutes, pay an average of 10 Soles, one way. We advise you to take the taxi one way only, on the way back you can do it on foot through the Cristo Blanco and the San Blas neighborhood.

You can also use Uber because that there are many taxi drivers who overcharge.

5. In Public Bus or Collectivo

Get to the Puente Rosario bus stop, in front of the Qarmenqa hotel, at this bus stop take the “Cristo Blanco” Bus (Cristo Blanco in this case means the name of the bus company) and get off at Cristo Blanco bus stop, pay 0.80 cents. From the Cristo Blanco bus stop walk for about 5 minutes to get to Saqsayhuaman.

6. Documentary

Check out the best documentary below about the enigmas of this fortress and temple.

7. Nearby places:

  • Muyuq Marka
  • Rodadero o Suchuna
  • Restaurante La Laguna Azul
  • Cristo Blanco
  • Complejo Arqueológico Q’enco
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