Cusco city is the jump off point to the emblematic Incan ruins of Machu Picchu. However most travellers choose to spend a couple of days in Cusco before visiting Machu Picchu to acclimatise at the high altitude.
The best thing to do while acclimatising is to get an introduction to the Incas history on tours like Cusco City Tour and Sacred Valley Tour. The half day Cusco City Tour takes you to the most raved Inca site in Cusco, Sacsayhuaman.
Before you begin your self-guided tour of Sacsayhuaman, you should know a little bit about the rich history that surrounds it. It is located north of the main square of Cusco and is approximately 3,700 meters above the sea level. It expands to a little over three-thousands hectares. It resides on a hillside that is surrounded by rich mountains where the Llamas and the falcons run free.
The Meaning of Sacsayhuaman
The meaning of the name Sacsayhuaman comes from the visual presence of birds, “place where the hawk is satiated”. The area, when under the Spanish rule in the 16th century was considered as the Inca Fortress.
How to Travel to Sacsayhuaman
You will have three options to choose from:
Option #1: Drive – by car you can reach it in approximate ten minutes from Plaza de Armas.
Option #2: Walk – you can walk the trail to Sacsayhuaman in approximately 45 minutes
Option #3: Take a Cusco City Tour – Choosing a tour will include transportation to and from the site.
Top Places to Visit while at Sacsayhuaman
While in Sacsayhuaman, you can look for the large plaza area which was once capable of holding several thousand people at one time. It was used for different ceremonial events. While there, you can see the enormous terrace walls that were built as part of this fortress.
The temple is another place to visit. This is a very important area in history for the Inca people because it was a place for rituals as well as sacrifices.
At the top of the walls, you will find three towers, Paucarmarca, Muyuccmarca, and Sallaqmarca. The aqueducts that are still standing today was used for a place to gather water.
The Muyucmarca tower is the highest of the three towers and it is said that Cahuide, the famous Incan, jumped from the tower in order to avoid becoming a prisoner of the Spanish rule during the resistance in 1536.
The Paucarmarca tower is located toward the east and it is believed to be the place that was once given to the stars.
The Last Tower, Sallaqmarca means rough and rocky. The only thing standing today is the foundation as it was destroyed back in the Spanish rule.
To tour the ruins today takes as little as thirty minutes or you can spend a couple of hours. It is simple but at the same time, complex as you view each of the towers and the walls of the ruins that displays each stone that was placed in a certain particular way that there was no room to see on the other side.
Today, there are a number of tours to go on but to really enjoy the true historical significance of this location, one should experience it on their own. Wear a good pair of walking shoes as you embark on your journey and pack some water to keep hydrated.