Monday, 5 November 2012

Road to Cusco - Stunning Saqsaywaman

Cusco was only 72 km from Machu Picchu but we saw so much on the way it felt like it was much farther.  After the explosion of colour and sensations that we encountered at the farmers' market, we moved up the mountains and approached Cusco  from the top.   You will see below panoramic views of the Sacred Valley and of Cusco with its red roofs - quite a pretty sight.  On the outskirts of Cusco, we stopped by the stunning Saqsaywaman (that's right, sound it the way you see it!) - a fortress like structure with a presence that reminded us of Stonehenge, only more powerful and awe-inspiring. 

The stone work at Saqsaywaman, a UNESCO heritage site, is one of the most impressive in Peru, indeed in South America.  The precision of the Incan stone work, the snugness of the fit, together with how the walls were constructed leaning inwards were said to be the reason why they survived the many devastating earthquakes in the area through the centuries.  The Spaniards had stripped stones from here to build their houses.  What remained were the largest stones that were too huge to move.   You can see how huge they are below.

View of the Sacred Valley from the road

Panoramic view of Cusco

Our guide showing us the drainage holes built into the structure

A closer look at the interlocking stone work and the drainage

The huge boulders sat on stone foundations, built at angles 


This is supposedly the largest boulder in the complex

There are three walls in the complex, this is the outside wall.   The longest wall reached 400 metres and the average height is about 6 metres

Look at how one piece of stone was used to round a corner


At the end of our tour, this herd of llamas and alpacas brought us back to a more human scale, even from afar, across the plain of Saqsaywaman...

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