Cusco From Above

On hills high above Cusco and visible from the Plaza de Armas is both a large cross and a statue of Christ. We decided to climb the steps up to San Cristobal church for a view of the city. We thought we could continue walking up to the Cristo Blanco (White statue of Christ) and when a car pulled over and offered to give us a lift, we accepted. Good thing, because the road twisted and turned and we would’ve given up and missed out on this excellent excursion.

Cristo Blanco with outstretched arms stands over the city and is visible from the Plaza de Armas and illuminated at night. The statue was given to the city in 1944 as a mark of gratitude by Palestinian refugees.

The Plaza de Armas is the large open space in the center of the photo and is visible from up at the Cristo Blanco.

From the Christ statue we could see some intriguing ruins so we walked over to check it out.

Looking back at the Cristo Blanco one can see a snow-covered mountain behind the city.

I kept hearing ‘Sexy woman this, sexy woman that…’ These are not the Sexy Women.

Welcome to SexyWoman. The magnificent Inca walls and remains of a great Incan ceremonial sanctuary and temple to the sun are at Saqsaywaman, also written Sacsayhuaman. (It is pronounced “sexy woman”.)

Some of the massive stones weigh up to 130 tons and are fitted together with absolute precision.

Sections were first built by the Killke culture around 1100; they had occupied the area since 900. The complex was expanded by the Inca from the 13th century; they built dry stone walls constructed of huge stones. The workers carefully cut the boulders to fit them together tightly without mortar. The site is at an altitude of 12,142 ft.

Francisco Pizarro’ s troops entered Cusco in 1533 and lived in the Sacsayhuaman complex for 3 years until the surprise rebellion led by Manco Inca in 1536. Manco Inca was unable to hold Sacsayhuaman and lost the war and the empire to the Spanish.

The term Inka or Inca means “ruler” or “lord” in Quechua and was used to refer to the ruling class or the ruling family.

The Spaniards razed this hilltop complex of towers and buildings, but the outer walls still stand. From then until the 1930s, Sacsayhuaman was an unofficial quarry of precut stones many of them have been used in Cusco’s buildings.

This rounded hill opposite the walled complex led to interesting speculation. We still don’t know it’s significance. There wasn’t any signage at the site and the Cusco guidebook devotes less than a page to the site.

The stone looks like a giant pottery urn laying on its side partially buried.


Looking at the complex from the rounded hill across the grassy field one sees 3 walls at 3 levels running parallel to each other in a zigzag line.

Much of the stone was quarried from the backside of this hill. Today children slide down the smooth grooves.

The odd rocks in the center of this circular site beg the question: Which was first? Did an earthquake cause the unworked stones to tumble into the center or was the circular site constructed around the unworked stones?


Who were responsible for these amazing buildings?

According to Wikipedia:

“The Inca Empire, also known as the Incan Empire and the Inka Empire, was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America, and possibly the largest empire in the world in the early 16th century. The administrative, political and military center of the empire was located in Cusco. The Inca civilization arose from the highlands of Peru sometime in the early 13th century. Its last stronghold was conquered by the Spanish in 1572.

From 1438 to 1533, the Incas incorporated a large portion of western South America, centered on the Andean Mountains, using conquest and peaceful assimilation, among other methods,”

The most spectacular coming soon – the amazing lost city of Machu Picchu!

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