The rock experience 1 (Sitio Qorikancha, Saqsaywaman, Tambomachay, Puka Pukara, Q’enqo)

The Incas are famous for their rocks here in Peru 

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Sitio Qorikancha (Originally named Intikancha or Intiwasi) – the most important temple in the Inca Empire

DSC03578_thumb The rock experience 1 (Sitio Qorikancha, Saqsaywaman, Tambomachay, Puka Pukara, Q’enqo)

Located in the old Inca capital of Cusco, the temple was dedicated to Inti, the ancient Inca sun god. He is revered as the national patron of the Inca state. Inti is more appropriately viewed as a cluster of solar aspects, since the Inca divided his identity according to the stages of the sun. Pachacuti (the Inca empire) rebuilt Cusco and the House of the Sun, enriching it with more oracles and edifices, and adding plates of fine gold. The walls were once covered in sheets of gold, and its adjacent courtyard was filled with golden statues (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coricancha).

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The Spanish colonists destroyed most of the temple during the 16th century war, and built the Church of Santo Domingo on the site, demolishing the temple and using its foundations for the cathedral. Construction took most of a century. This is one of numerous sites where the Spanish incorporated Inca stonework into the structure of a colonial building. The site is not impressive, and we where more intrigued by the head deformations at the underground museum.

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Upper left picture: the Incas formed these skulls from birth using little pillows with frames of wooden sticks, that were placed on the forehead and the back of the head of the newborn, until the deformity was irreversible (upper center picture). During the Inca period, people with this deformity had social prestige. Upper right picture: the removal of a bone fragment from the skull (the skull had probably been damaged by a traumatic injury) was preformed in the Paracas society (400-200 B.C.), but was also applied by later cultures including the Incas. The surgery shows advanced knowledge of anatomy, proper surgical instruments etc.

Saqsaywaman or is it Sacsayhuamán? These ruins have many names, and was a citadel

DSC03691-Pano_thumb The rock experience 1 (Sitio Qorikancha, Saqsaywaman, Tambomachay, Puka Pukara, Q’enqo)

Sections were first built by the Killke culture about 1100, they had occupied the area since 900. The complex was expanded and added to 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.

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Because of its location high above Cusco and its immense terrace walls, this area of Sacsayhuamán is frequently referred to as a fortress. The importance of its military functions was highlighted in 1536 when Manco Inca (the Inca emperor from 1516–1544) lay siege to Cusco, when the Spaniards tried to conquer Cusco. Much of the fighting occurred in and around Sacsayhuamán, as it was critical to maintaining control over the city.

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The best-known zone of Sacsayhuamán includes its great plaza and its adjacent three massive terrace walls. The stones used in the construction of these terraces are among the largest used in any building in prehispanic America. They display a precision of fitting that is unmatched in the Americas. The stones are so closely spaced that a single piece of paper will not fit between many of the stones. This precision, combined with the rounded corners of the blocks, the variety of their interlocking shapes, and the way the walls lean inward, is thought to have helped the ruins survive devastating earthquakes in Cuzco. The longest of three walls is about 400 meters. They are about 6 meters tall. The estimated volume of stone is over 6,000 cubic meters.

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Following the siege of Cusco, the Spaniards began to use Sacsayhuamán as a source of stones for building Spanish Cuzco, and within a few years, they had taken apart and demolished much of the complex.

DSC03709-Pano_thumb The rock experience 1 (Sitio Qorikancha, Saqsaywaman, Tambomachay, Puka Pukara, Q’enqo)

Tambomachay Inn – maybe it was a guesthouse?

The two words “Tampu” means accommodation and “Mach’ay” means resting place, but “Mach’ay” also means cave. The site consists of finely carved stone structures with 2 meter high trapezoidal niches.

DSC03805_thumb The rock experience 1 (Sitio Qorikancha, Saqsaywaman, Tambomachay, Puka Pukara, Q’enqo)

It consists of a series of aqueducts, canals and waterfalls that run through the terraced rocks, presumably it was related to the worship of the water. The function of the site is uncertain: it may have served as a military outpost guarding the approaches to Cusco, as a spa resort for the Inca political elite, or both (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tambomachay).

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The sites was called “El Baño del Inca” (“the bath of the Inca”) by the Spaniards. This is a small by beautiful site

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Puka Pukara – a site of military ruins

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This fort is made of large walls, terraces, and staircases and was part of defense of Cusco in particular and the Inca Empire in general. Puka Pukara is an example of military architecture that also functioned as an administrative center. Puka Pukara is located roughly 7 km from Cusco on the road to Pisac (another Inca ruin, which you will meet in the next post) and near the Antisuyo, the jungle portion of the former Incan empire. The fort is located on high ground overlooking the Cusco valley and Tambomachay, creating a beautiful – and useful – view. When it was built, it was probably placed so that these areas were visible to give the military extra vision over important parts of the empire (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puka_Pukara).

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Although there is not as much known about Puka Pukara as a lot of other Incan ruins, there is a theory that this site was probably constructed during the reign of Pachacutec (the Inca emperor from 1418–1472). Since he was the ninth ruler of the empire, it can be said that Puka Pukara was one of the later constructions. The stones used to build most of the walls are very irregularly shaped, stacked together in kind of a here-and-there manner to create walls that are functional, but lacking very much beauty as far as architecture goes (this is in contrast to a lot of other sites in the area).

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There is a small amount of argument over what Puka Pukara’s real function was when the Incan empire was still thriving. As stated above, it was at least partially a military base and, since it was on such a major road and overlooking so many important spots, it was a very good place to spot people causing trouble. It could have served as a stop for military groups travelling nearby, too. Another theory is that it was a place of rest for hunters and weary travelers, as well as Incan nobles, due to all of its luxurious baths, canals, plazas, fountains, and separate rooms.

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Q’enqo – one of the largest “huacas” (holy places) in the Cusco Region

The amphitheater was a temple for public ceremonies during the Inca empire. It is 55 meters long with 19 incomplete niches distributes a long the wall.

DSC03822_thumb The rock experience 1 (Sitio Qorikancha, Saqsaywaman, Tambomachay, Puka Pukara, Q’enqo)

Many huacas were based on naturally occurring rock formations. It was believed to be a place where sacrifices and mummification took place (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qenko). At Q’enqo you can find two adjoining rock outcrops. It is presumed that during ceremonies chicha (purple corn drink) and llama blood were sacrificed.

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5 ruins down and 7 to go. In the next post we go “pre-inca”.

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