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  CUSCO´S SURROUNDINGS: SACSAYHUAMAN - THE FORTRESS

Sacsayhuaman, The Royal House of the Sun

Introduction

One of the greatest stone monuments in Inca architecture was Sacsayhuaman, the Royal House of The Sun. In Inca Cusco, many Royal Houses of the Sun existed: one was Coricancha and another was Poquencancha.
The Royal Houses of The Sun were privileged complexes, something like small cities inside the city of Cusco, where the most important god was worshipped the Sun-- but where other minor deities were also worshipped.

These worship sites had their own territorial domains marked by water, which that arrived through underground canals, and many houses. Some researchers believe that they belonged to one or more clans or royal panacas.
Sacsayhuaman was formed by stone blocks, cleverly placed together, which protected the city of Cusco.
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At that time, its huge stone walls amazed the spaniards conquerors who had just arrived, and they called it a Fortress, according to their concept of a city and the military constructions, but for the incas and their unique concept of the world, Sacsayhuaman was much more than that. The bastions, watchtowers, houses, worship sites, storehouses, roads and aqueducts that conformed this exceptional Inca construction are proof of that.

Waldemar Espinoza Soriano, a researcher into Inca society, says Sacsayhuaman was commonly called a fortress, regardless of the fact that, as Spanish historian Cieza de León says, "it was a temple dedicated to the Sun".
Among the chroniclers who describe Sacsayhuaman as the Royal House of The Sun, we can mention the following:

Garcilaso de la Vega, who wrote in the "Comentarios Reales" that the Cusco people knew from their ancestors that this architectural complex was truly a Royal House of The Sun. In chapter VI of Book Seven he states; ".from the Inca fortress, a royal blooded Inca came out as a messenger of the Sun. He came out of the fortress and not from the Temple of the Sun, because it was said that he was a messenger of war and not of peace, that the fortress was the House of The Sun".

Pedro Cieza de León, Spanish chronicler at the time of the conquest, says in his book "The Nobility of The Incas", that north of the city of Cusco, the Royal House of The Sun was located on a hill.
Martín de Murúa, another Spanish chronicler, states that Sacsayhuaman "was dedicated in the beginning as the Royal House of The Sun, and at this time we can only be witnesses of its ruin".

"It’s obvious that no other archaeological structure in America causes such an impression on a visitor as Sacsayhuaman. As prepared as one may be, this scene surpasses the imagination" (Alden J. Manson).

Location, Geographical Aspect

Sacsayhuaman is an archaeological site located north of the main plaza of Cusco, just a kilometer from the colonial parish of San Cristobal.

In older times, the Valley of Cusco or Watanay, as it was also called after the river of the same name that crosses the area, was not formed by the fertile lands of the area, but had three lakes distributed along 30 Km.
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This is why it has been determined that the geological formation of Yunkaypata (where Sacsayhuaman is located) is 80 million years old and is of marine origin, since it has remains of fossilized sea urchins and other organisms of this habitat. Erosion and the environment wore away the huge masses of limestone found there. It is a kind of granite slide, and is polished due to the action of seismic fault lines.

Rocks like andesite found in these constructions are not from the same place they were possibly taken from Waqoto and Rumicolca, located more than 38 km. from the site. As Peruvian archaeologist César García Rosell says, where these huge blocks of stone came from, how they were taken to the summit, and the technical means used pulling equipment, cords, tightrope and hundreds of men used for this chore will always be a mystery.

The Name

Sacsayhuaman or Saqsaywaman is a compound Quechua word from Saqsay: to be full, and Waman: Hawk. According to some researchers it means "Satiated Hawk". The bird of prey is abundant in the area, which was the protector of the first Inca, Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo.

Some say that monument is really called saqsawaman which means "Spotted Hawk". 

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