Around Cuzco

We spent this few days after the Inca trail visiting the Incan ruins around the city of Cuzco. We learned a lot about the history of the Incas during these two weeks. I am only scratching the surface of this history.

On Thursday, we spent the afternoon walking to four ruins outside the city. Here is the ruin of Tambo Machay, which was associated with the Incan water cult. Here is another ruin of Puca Pucara. The most interesting ruin of the day was Sacsayhuaman. When the Incas built Cuzco, they designed it in the form of a puma, which was a sacred animal to them. The walls of Sacsayhuaman were meant to represent the teeth of the puma. This site had some of the best stone work of all of the ruins that we had seen. Some of the stones that were used weighed hundreds of tons. They were shaped to fit each other perfectly. This is impressive considering the Incas had no machines to help them build such massive, perfect structures.  

On Friday we took a day tour of the sites outside of Cuzco in the Sacred Valley. The two main sites we saw were Pisac and Ollantaytambo. Pisac is an old ruin with lots of agricultural terraces and a temple of the sun.

Ollantaytambo was an important Incan town where some legends say the first Incas were born here from the sun. The town itself was designed in the shape of a llama. The llama was an important animal for the Incas because it was a food source, and because its usefulness in being able to carry heavy loads and requiring little water. Many of the buildings and temples are oriented to the sun. On June 21st, the winter solstice, when the sun rises, it lights up the area of the town that coincides with the llamas eyes.

What was also interesting about this town was that some structures in the town were not finished when the Spanish attacked. You can see evidence of the large stones left exactly where they were when the Spanish attacked.

Another interesting design was that the fields were built in the shape of a tree. And on one side of the tree, the fields were shaped like a pyramid. One of the fields in the pyramid is shapes like a window of the pyramid. On the summer solstice, December 21st, the first rays of sun fit into this window of the pyramid perfectly.

There are two giant figures carved into the mountain above the town. These were figures from old Incan legends that were said to have frozen into stone and look over the town to protect it. During the solstice, the sunlight hits the eyes of the figure carved into the mountain. There are countless other examples of how the Incas oriented their buildings towards the sunlight of the two solstices.

Here is a picture of one of the many fountains in the ruin.

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