a massive military fortifications located
1 mi (2 km) North-east of
Cusco, capital of
huge fortress is one of the best examples of Inca military engineering.
Designed as the teeth of a jaguar, the fortress protected the body (city
of Cuzco mile away) and the tail (temple of Koricancha). The walls of
the citadel are build in a zigzag fashion with enormous granite ramparts
that measure 585 feet (300 m). Some stones used in construction are
measured 17 feet (5 meters) high and weighting almost 250 tons. The
legend states that dozens of unfortunate victims still rest under these
boulders than they accidentally collapsed. Stone nevertheless are very
well fitted without mortar kept in place only by its weight.
zigzag pattern of
Sacsayhuamán is a testament to Inca’s ingenuity. If anyone tried to
climb one of the terraces warriors would expose his back to defenders.
Besides three towers stood on the top and guarded the citadel. Little
survived from these structures, but judging by remains they were huge.
Underground passages were dug for quicker mobility and protection for
civilians. The whole population of
could hide here in times of war.
Incas defended Cusco in the
Sacsayhuamán fortress from the Conquistadors. Thousands of natives were
slaughtered here, but their leader Manco Inca escaped to Ollantaytambo
probably using underground passages hidden from the Spanish army. In the
following years Sacsayhuamán
was quarried for valuable stones so it lost parts of its structure to building projects such as churches, houses and
other structures of Cuzco.