Sacsayhuaman The Mysterious Fortress

Sacsayhuamán, often spelled Sacsayhuaman, is a fortress / ceremonial hall on the outskirts of Cusco, Peru, the historic capital of the Inca Empire.

It was previously assumed to be a fortress, but subsequent evidence indicated that it was utilized for ceremonies. Sacsayhuaman’s architecture is astonishing regardless of its purpose; its stones fit together so well that they stay solid even without cement binding them.

Although they fit together tightly, they aren’t all the same shape, implying that the design was created while the structure was being built.

The Incas constructed the complex in the 15th century, mainly under Pachacuti and his successors.

picture of an inca army
Inca Army

They created dry stone walls out of massive stones. The workers made the rocks precisely chopped to fit together firmly without mortar. The location is 3,701 meters above sea level.

Sacsayhuaman also serves as a great vantage point for the city of Cuzco and the magnificent surrounding Andean peaks, including the Ausangate, Pachatusán, and Cinca ranges.

For What Did They Use Sacsayhuaman?

It is estimated that about 20,000 workers removed the stones from local quarries and transported them 20 kilometers to Cusco hill.

Sacsayhuaman is thought to maintain only 40-50% of its original structure today. Nonetheless, the site has structures weighing up to 125 tons. How did the Incas construct Sacsayhuaman using installations that were unusually heavy and large for the time? Many questions remain unanswered.

The fortress features three built terraces, one on top of the other. The walls rise to 18 meters in height and stretch for 540 meters. Each wall includes up to 40 segments, allowing defenders to intercept attackers in the crossfire.

Sacsayhuamán Wall
Sacsayhuamán Wall

The colossal plaza, which can accommodate thousands of people, was intended for communal ceremonial activities. Several of the huge structures on the site could have also been utilized for ceremonies.

The fortress was reported to have a capacity of at least 1,000 troops when completed, although it was rarely used because foreign states never invaded the Incas. Sacsayhuaman was most likely planned as much more than a fortress for this purpose.

The complex comprised temples, including one dedicated to the sun god Inti, and was utilized for Inca rites. The Sacsayhuaman was also a large Inca storage facility, housing weaponry, armor, foodstuffs, expensive textiles, ceramics, metal tools, and precious metals.

The Inca established a relationship comparable to that of Cuzco and Sacsayhuamán in their remote colony where Santiago, Chile, grew. Chena, the Inca fortress there before the Spanish colonial city. The Huaca de Chena was a ceremonial ritual place.

Numerous historians are still debating Sacsayhuaman’s role because of the many diverse types of architecture.

The Architectural Style

Sacsayhuaman’s architecture includes religious structures like as residential buildings, towers, altars, warehouses, highways, and aqueducts. As a result, the shape and harmony of the landscape are similar to other sacred Inca sites such as Machu Picchu.

Sacsayhuaman’s design is inspired by the shape of a puma’s head, a revered animal in Inca mythology. The Inca Pachacutec rebuilt the city to resemble a sleeping puma. 

Sacsayhuaman’s architectural design incorporates a variety of styles. The fortress structure includes both sacred and residential structures.

Sacsayhuaman’s main wall is zigzagged with massive stones up to 5 meters high and 2.5 meters broad.

Sacsayhuaman Entrance
Sacsayhuaman Entrance

Sacsayhuaman’s main walls are zigzagged and made of massive stones. These stones can weigh up to 125 tons and are 2.5 meters wide and 5 meters tall. The Sacsayhuaman fortress has three significant walls, each built behind the other. These walls stretch for almost 540 meters and reach a height of approximately 18 meters.

A 400-meter-long polished wall borders the south side. Other barriers and platforms limit the east and west.

The form of the Sacsayhuaman was also created to replicate the contours of the mountain range that towers behind it, as Inca architects frequently strove to blend their structures with the surrounding natural terrain perfectly.

This is especially noticeable when the light casts deep triangle shadows between the zigzag terraces, just as it does on the mountain range with its peaks and valleys.

How was Sacsayhuaman Constructed?

During the reign of the Inca Pachacuti , Sacsayhuaman was built. Its large, well-built walls stand as a testament not only to Inca dominance but also to the talents of Inca builders and their progressive structures and stonemasonry knowledge.

The first Sacsayhuaman structure was built with only mud and clay, as was typical of Inca structures, and subsequent Inca leaders progressively replaced the clay bricks with the massive stones you see today. In reality, many of these stones have more than 100 tones and stand more than 4 meters tall.

The Incas were exceptional stonemasons. Massive blocks were mined and fashioned using only more rigid stones and bronze equipment. The marks on the stone blocks suggest that they were largely pounded rather than carved into shape.

Ropes, poles, levers, logs, and earthen ramps were used to transport blocks (telltale markings may still be visible on certain blocks), and some stones still have nodes jutting from them or indentations that were used to help workers grip the rock.

image of Sacsayhuaman

Mysterious Theories Behind the Building

Of course, the most general explanation is that aliens came down and gave the Inca the technology to build Sacsayhuaman.

Others have proposed that the ancients conducted atomic warfare that fused their forts together, resulting in the vitrified surface we see today. However, there is no solid evidence to establish this notion at any of the sites we have today in Peru, Scotland, or elsewhere where the stonework is vitrified. The sites are not radioactive, and the chemical testing is inconsistent.

Others have speculated that the stone was cut and transferred before being fused by a forest fire or a fierce battle. Many researchers have attempted to demonstrate this on test walls, but all have failed.

Another far-fetched hypothesis holds that the Inca employed a complex system of mirrors and lenses to capture the sun’s rays and generate enough heat to melt the stone. However, this appears overly elaborate and unrealistic.

Long distance view of Sacsayhuaman

Unexplained Mystery Behind Sacsayhuaman

While some of these rocks are estimated to weigh more than a hundred tons, it is unnecessary to explain that the tallest is 9 meters tall.

Aside from their massive size, the rocks in Sacsayhuaman are put together with a level of precision that is impossible to achieve with modern hand tools.

When the Spanish colonizers arrived in the area, they demolished several Inca and Killike structures to use the resources for their construction. But the story changed when they met with Sacsayhuaman’s walls.

They couldn’t move the rocks since they were so large. That is how the Spanish came to attribute the building of these walls to supernatural forces.

Specific folklore describes Sacsayhuaman’s tunnels as vast underground labyrinths. Some people believe they link Sacsayhuaman to other cities.

Legends say they lead to underground caverns containing incredible treasures. Many people went to investigate within them, only never to return.

How it is Being Used Now

Following the empire’s collapse following the European conquest, most of the Sacsayhuaman’s stones were reused in Cuzco’s colonial buildings.

The Spanish covered the ruins in the soil to prevent rebel Inca forces from using them, and the site was not uncovered until 1934 when it was excavated.

Peruvians continue to celebrate Inti Raymi, the traditional Inca winter solstice and new year festival.

On June 24, it is held near Sacsayhuamán. Warachikuy, held on the third Sunday of September each year, is another prominent event.

Some Cusco people utilize the massive field within the complex’s walls for jogging, t’ai chi, and other sports activities.


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