While in Cusco we strolled 2km – up a very steep hill – to the northern edge of town to reach Saqsaywamán – the closest set of Inca ruins to Cusco (if you don’t include those that are located in central Cusco that is!?!).
Saqsaywamán was the first Inca ruin we visited in Peru, and therefore was was our first ‘real’ experience of Inca stonework – which is extremely impressive… huge walls made from big stones that are all different shapes and sizes, BUT that are perfectly cut to fit snugly besides the next stone… the stones fit so perfectly that you can’t even fit a piece of paper between the stones, AND there is no trace of any type of mortar to hold the big stones in place… it’s pretty unbelievable…
The site of Saqsaywamán is located on a big hill, which therefore means a view 🙂 The view of Cusco from the ruins is awesome… you can really see how the city of Cusco is surrounded by the hills of the Andes 🙂
The site of Saqsaywamán is pretty big, and once you leave the huge grassy plaza, it’s really nice to get close to the walls as you stroll along the paths that lead alongside them…
Across the grassy plaza opposite the AMAZING Inca walls sits Rodadero Hill – a huge rock formation, which has ledges carved into the rock, some of which are signed as being the Inca thrones!?! One side of the rock is also home to some natural slides, and you can still use them today 🙂 If you climb to the highest point of Rodadero Hill you also get a great view of the entire site of Saqsaywamán from the top 🙂
There was just one place left for us to visit before we headed back into Cusco for lunch – Cristo Blanco (White Christ).
Cristo Blanco is a small statue of Jesus that sits on top of Pukamuqu Hill (Red Hill) – it can be seen from Saqsaywamán, and there is also a trail that leads directly to the statue from the ruins… The trail to reach Cristo Blanco is pretty much uphill all the way (no surprise really given it’s located on top of a hill!?!)… When we reached the top, it was covered in tourists that had – judging from the amount of cars in the car park – had arrived with less exertion than us!?! Jesus was VERY tiny, maybe even MINISCULE… This Peruvian Jesus isn’t in the same league as Cochabamba’s Tiny Jesus OR Rio’s Tiny Jesus!?! Also the view was pretty similar to that of the mirador at Saqsaywamán….
We really enjoyed our visit to Saqsaywamán… strolling around this archeological site gave me a new found appreciation for walls….:-)