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.
Precision and mystery surround this Sexy Woman.
She is tall, very heavy and full of secrets.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.