Cusco: Inca Stones, Streets and Sexy Women

Now that I have your attention… it’s actually Sacsayhuamán in Cusco – but all we have to remember was “sexy woman” to get the pronunciation correct. She’s an old Inca fortress in the back of Cusco city that stands at an altitude of 12,000 feet and possibly the best display of the Inca’s most extraordinary stonework.

Sacsayhuamán Cusco Peru

Up to 9 feet tall some of these stones just dwarf me!

Precision and mystery surround this Sexy Woman.

She is tall, very heavy and full of secrets.

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She took almost 100 years to complete with the help of thousands of men. Many of the blocks were taken from as far as 32km away. Some blocks are the size of large buses and weigh hundreds of tons. Although there are plenty of theories, no-one knows how they managed to move them, not even how they managed to cut the bricks with laser-precision.

Sacsayhuamán Cusco Peru

The structure is built in such a way that a single piece of paper will not fit between many of the stones.

The structure is built in such a way that hardly a single piece of paper will not fit between many of the stones. This precision, combined with the rounded corners of the limestone blocks, the variety of their interlocking shapes, and the way the walls lean inward, credit to the Incans these structures have survived massive earthquakes where colonial building have been devastated.

Sacsayhuamán Cusco Peru 9

All that survives today is what the Spanish weren’t able to destroy – and what they didn’t pillage before that was stopped in the 1930’s.

If you have time, visit the top of Rodadero hill, where the Spaniards based themselves during their assault on Sacsayhuamán.

There is a rock outcrop on top, beautifully carved with sacred steps.

These days the flat fields at Sacsayhuamán are a peaceful place to stroll. A huge trapezoidal door leads up a walkway to the top of the ruins, which is a marvellous place to bring wine and watch the sun setting over Cusco.

It”s also where the Inti Raymi delights us on our last day here.

Sacsayhuamán Cusco Peru

Inti Raymi Festival at Sacsayhuamán.

Hatun Rumiyoc

Just a few steps around the corner from our apartment we find Hatun Rumiyoc, and take a steep jaunt up the cobblestone street. I am huffing and puffing whilst Edward a well acclimatised local is walking and giving commentary effortlessly.

The quality of the Incas stone work is what we notice when walking through the streets of Cusco. The walls built with these huge polygonal stones, cut and fitted with exceptional precision, it is one of the most impressive structures of ancient Cusco city.  Its imposing walls hide a number of surprises, from the famous 12-Angle Stone, to shapes of local animals built into the structure itself. Yes, we see the llama, puma and serpent shapes cleverly concealed within the stone walls.

12 Angled Stone Hatunrumiyoc

12 Angled Stone Hatun RumiyoSo it is said, based on common opinion, that the building was the palace of Inca Roca, who ruled sometime around 1350.

But the Qoraqora, another building that is located on the plaza, is also said to be his palace. Perhaps they both were? There’s no way to be sure who built it and when, Edward reinforces that some people just want to invent history for their own purposes and this we find is pretty common as many theories seem to exist. What we do know about Hatun Rumiyoc is that it is exquisitely constructed, reaching the same perfection of many other Inca structures.

Edward explains the two main building styles used in Inca architecture, aligned rectangular bricks and complex jigsaw-like polygonal bricks like those used here and in Sacsayhuamán.

Hatun Rumiyoc,  that in Quechua means big stone.

Hatun Rumiyoc, that in Quechua means big stone.

Spelled out cleverly within architecture; visiting the Cusco area  is a history lesson written in ‘masterful stonework’  for you to decipher.

Evidence of this ancient mastercraft is everywhere, mysterious and intriguing.  The Inca stonework leaves its impression on us, but we are forever wondering and asking questions.

How were the stones transported?

How were the stones carved and moulded together?

If you have a theory or an opinion, feel free to leave a comment below.

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Handy tips for visiting  Cusco

  • Sacsayhuamán is a steep, two kilometre  walk from Cusco or a 10-minute taxi ride for a couple for dollars.  Get the taxi up and walk down; it’s a lovely view over Cusco, especially at sunset with the bottle of wine and a picnic
  • Hatun Rumiyoc is 2 blocks up from the main plaza
  •  Take a local guide with you for more information as you see it
  • Take it easy to acclimatise first

What was the highlight of your visit to Cusco?


3 Comments on “Cusco: Inca Stones, Streets and Sexy Women

    • I just can’t wait to get back to Peru, Cusco in particular. I always love revisiting a place, seems to reignite something special that I have yet to put my finger on.

  1. In my Book “The Cusco Theory” I touch down on how the Inca’s civilization fell,
    How indeed they were conquered by the Spanish who indeed fell themselves.
    The book is a thesis on food, culture and civilization/society
    But here I would like to express another of my theories.

    The rocks, if you look at them actually have some rusting stains and molten edges & Surfaces.
    It is in my opinion that the rocks had been super heated and either pressed together while hot and then cooled into place.
    Or a liquid detergent (Most likely a leaf oil or harsh acid) was used to form the giant stones.

    Moving boulders, rocks and stones of unthinkable proportion was a skill that our ancestors not only knew thoroughly but employed in every single mega-structure and ancient site that is currently known.

    3-5 Tons stones are seen almost uniformly in all ancient sites.
    Yet we are still baffled by this simple and ancient process,
    It is perhaps the altitude and type of vegetation or Deciduous forest materials (or the lack thereof) that makes most historians cringe when you mention stone-age methods.

    But the facts remain that the Killke people built the original ancient site in cusco, after they had abandon/the Inca then claimed what was left of the area and transformed in into their own capital of their empire.
    Cusco literally means: The Naval of the World

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