We could begin our tale of this ancient Inca town, hidden deep in the southern Peruvian Andes, starting from it's modern days.
After all, the modern part is the first observable aspect upon arriving to Cusco...
However, after we gave it a bit more thought, we decided to begin the tale of "the historic capital of the Inca Empire" from it's very begging as it deserves nothing less.
IN THE BEGINIG
The tradition of the indigenous people was preserved and is clearly visible even today.
In the beginning there was the infinite sky and the divine inspiration of the gods that flowed straight down to Mother Earth.
The ancient mountains, that firmly stood up high, and the indigenous people that lived deep within them, were the first to experience this inspiration.
The indigenous people have absorbed and transformed this inspirational energy into their surroundings thus giving birth to one of the oldest and most beautiful towns in the Americas, Qosqo - (The original name of Cusco in Qechua language).
In my article about Macu Picchu, I have expressed my intention to avoid providing my readers with soulless facts and historical info. found in many web sites and blogs all over the Internet - so I will follow the same example here.The stones that whisper a tale of time long forgotten...
When we think about Cusco a certain vision comes to our minds:
We see an incredible terrain of high mountain peaks that pierce the thick layer of clouds...that flow around the mountains, like an enormous white river, stretching all the way into infinity...
We inhale the incredibly fresh air that wafts the scent of fresh mint, eucalyptus and anise...
We see a community with strong tradition that stretches for thousands of years into the past...
We see many adorable alpacas walking across the nearby hills...
We see an incredibly clear sky decorated with sunsets easily capable of inspiring any living soul...
We see a beautiful town, nested in a valley, that slowly strives to reach the skies with it's many narrow street neighborhoods that expand along the surrounding mountains...
We see a certain ancient complex, called SexyWoman...pardon, I meant, Sacsayhuamán - that whispers a tale of a time long forgotten...the tale of Cusco's very begging...
Sacsayhuamán - the beginning of Cusco...
Sacsayhuamán is a citadel located in the northern hills of Cusco and it is enlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Even though Cusco represents one of the oldest South American towns, which includes over 3000 years of intriguing historical timeline - it is believed that most of this complex was built by the Killke culture (900-1200AD), which the Inca "upgraded" later on.
Many believe that the history of Cusco town began in the hills where Sacsayhuamán was built later on...and this is also where our story will begin.In the beginning the skies gave birth to a town high in the clouds of the Peruvian Andes... ..that firmly stands even today...
The steps, which lead straight up to the archeological site, were made out of ancient rocks which arose from the sea many eons ago. As we went up, we also noticed several seashell fossils which were encrusted on some of the walls.
The fact that this stone, which was currently standing almost 3500m above sea level, was at some point under the same had simply blew us away...The stone that arose from the murky depths of the ancient sea into the highlands of the Andes...
With each new step, it became clear why Sacsayhuamán held such importance among the Inca.
The position of this hill offers a perfect view of all surrounding mountains and valleys.
The fort like complex is not easily accessible from all sides and is mostly surrounded by many cliffs - which also indicates it's strategic significance.
Similarly to Machu Picchu, the buildings had a puzzle like design which prevented the earthquake destruction. It was interesting to see how sheer human will, knowledge and precision were able to shape all those immense rocks into formations that left the observers in pure awe.Nobody knows exactly how the Inca have managed to transport and arrange these immense rocks... Some believe that these spike-like parts of the stones were designed to hold the ropes as they were being pulled and arranged within the complex...
It is known that the Inca have worshiped the puma as one of their sacred animals. In this respect, many believe that Cusco's first part was built to resemble the pumas body.
According to some archeologists, Sacsayhuamán represents the head of the puma while the rest of the body spreads along the lover parts of Cusco:
In spite of my tendency to avoid plain historical facts, I must mention one interesting fact:
After the earthquake, that occurred in 1950, 90% of Cusco town was destroyed.
What's interesting is that this 10% of the town, which stayed in tact, was almost entirely within the complex of Sacsayhuamán...while the destroyed 90% included almost every building that the Spaniards have built after their conquest.
This proves many things, but, above everything else, it proves that the Inca had incredibly deep and wast knowledge about many different aspects of the world around them...and that they were far from the terms of "uncivilized" and "savage" - which they were given by the Spanish conquistadors.Dear conquistadors, I'm sorry, but you were definitely wrong...
It's clear that the Inca had a very large and deep understanding of astronomy - which they considered of great importance.
It should also be noted that the Inca had worshiped many gods which they believed were manifested into different natural forms and events. Of course, the conquistadors have ridiculed and prohibited their beliefs and forced the Inca into Christianity.
We don’t mean to offend or discriminate anyone, especially regarding their beliefs, but we think that what happened to the Inca was absolutely horrible. Their belief system was tightly related to the nature in which they were living - which is, in our opinion, truly beautiful.
What’s so bizarre is that they were forced out of their beliefs in exchange for one new religion, which they knew nothing of, and which was, actually, destroying their world.
Unfortunately, the history repeats itself, as we continue to destroy this beautiful planet and the only world that we have while we beg our gods and idols to do something about it. It’s so sad to see that we’ve accepted our synthetic worlds as real ones while we ignore and destroy the nature from which we all came.
We believe that it’s absolutely essential, for all of us, to reconnect with the heart of this world which still beats in the depths of Mother Nature - before it’s too late.
"When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money."
Our guide had also provided us with one more interesting information regarding the excavations that took place in Sacsayhuamán.
Most of these excavations were successful thanks to one particular book, called the Comentarios Reales de los Incas which was written by Garcilaso de la Vega (published in the early 17th century). The author was a son a Spanish conqueror and an Inca noblewoman and he spent most of his childhood in Cusco.Garcilaso de la Vega (this image was taken from: http://www.forolibertad.com/3594-2/?lang=en)
Being of noble birth, he used to play in the fields and parts of Sacsayhuamán which were prohibited to most of the indigenous people. He run through the labyrinths and halls of many temples and sacred caves, whose exact pattern he described in Comentarios Reales de los Incas, which was also translated into English language as "The Royal Commentaries of the Incas and General History of Peru".When he was a young boy, Garcilaso used to run through this labyrinth...whose precise pattern he described in "Comentarios Reales de los Incas"
This book proved to be an invaluable source for the future excavations in Sacsayhuamán because it offered many details regarding the location of certain temples, patterns and chambers (which were totally unknown to the archeologists).
We were simply amazed by the incredible astronomical accuracy which the Inca combined with their specific way of building. Most of the temples were designed to stand in certain relation with the Sun along with different constellations. Our guide had even shown us several spots and rocks that were completely shadowless during the winter and summer solstice !This is stone is completely "shadowless" during the winter and summer solstice !
The flawless aqueduct system which we discovered during our exploration of Machu Picchu, was similar to the one we found in Sacsayhuamán. However, we noticed that this complex had several large disk-like wells which supplied almost every corner of Sacsayhuamán.
The large "circle" wells also had one more function.
During the clear mountain nights, they served as huge mirrors which reflected the shining stars scattered across the endless sky.
If we take into consideration that, during that time, there was 0% light pollution and that this wells were so high up in the mountains...just try to imagine how this scene have looked like...
As we walked through the ancient remains of this amazing complex, we could almost see the indigenous people, that used to live here many ages ago, and hear their voices...their ritual songs and their prayers to the skies...
We also noticed that the Inca knew how to have loads of fun !Ladies and gentlemen, we present you the ancient version of the slide !
The image above shows a huge green granite rock which the Inca have shaped into a natural slide many centuries ago.
Perhaps, it would be more appropriate to call it a "royal natural slide" as this part of the complex was reserved solely for the royal family members of the ruling emperor of the Inca.
So if you ever wondered just who exactly have invited the slide, you may find your answer in Sacsayhuamán !
Looking back, if we haven't discovered and visited Sacsayhuamán, we would have remembered Cusco in a very different way. The complex offered the absolutely best view of Cusco...and when we close our eyes we can almost feel the warm breeze and the ancient stone on which we set...while we enjoyed the view of our favorite Peruvian town.The child of the skies, hidden deep in the Andes... We will remember this view... ...forever.
At the very end of our Sacsayhuamán tour, we were blessed to see the most complete and the longest rainbow we've seen so far.
We couldn't have wished for a better and more enchanting farewell, especially because it came straight from the "divine" skies...We would like to express our gratitude to our phenomenal guide, Juan. Thanks to him, we have learned many interesting things about Sacsayhuamán and we would highly recommend him if you ever plan on visiting this ancient complex. You can usually find him by the main entrance :)
And as our vision about Sacsayhuamán slowly comes to an end, our story will slowly descend from the "hills of the divine inspiration" into a valley which sings a song of a different and more modern time of Cusco...a story to be continued in my next article :)
See you out there !
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