Thursday, September 29, 2016

15 in the Peruvian Andes – the ruins of Saqsaywaman

At 3,700m above sea level, Saqsaywaman (or Sacsayhuamán) is a thousand year-old citadel on the outskirts of Cusco. It's a short 20-30 minute walk straight from the city, though it's an upwards one, and it gets a bit steep once you reach the entrance gate. But at least you have some pretty flowers on the road.



This fortress is amazing. I think this is where I saw the stones I liked the most. Immense blocks of stone cut in irregular shapes, tightly fitted against each other, with no mortar. The walls zigzag, and they create a multi-level fortress that allowed it to be defended from whichever side it was attacked.






From the top, you have sweeping views of old Cusco, including the Plaza de Armas and, from the opposite side, you also have views of the surrounding hills, whose smooth stone creates beautiful patterns.




In winter the sun rises early, at around 5 or 5:30am, so by 10 or 11am you already have a very strong unrelenting sun above you. At this point, my habibi decided he was done climbing ruins, so I left to explore another part of the site, one that had wild llamas roaming about! woohoo!




Plus, I wasn't going to miss taking a photo of a bird too, right?



From above, the zigzagging shape of the ruins was way more evident. Fascinating! Some people say the intention was to imitate the fangs of a jaguar. Whatever the truth, it made for an impressive sight.




Before we left, the habibi felt like doing a bit of Butoh by some of these impressive blocks of stone. 



For the way back home, we took a different road down, an überlong narrow street leading straight to the centre of town. At sunset. Perfect for our exhausted selves.



That was our introduction to Inca ruins. I was really happy – I really loved the aesthetics involved in shaping the stones, both by making them irregular in shape and by creating the soft-curving walls themselves. A truly masterful work.

And with that, I finish my Cusco posts! Next... Ollantaytambo!

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