on April 27, 2005
On a mountain overlooking modern-day Cusco is the large Inca ruin of Saqsaywaman, a Quechua word that comes from two words, one being saqsay, which means to be "fulfilled," Saqsaywaman then meaning "satisfied falcon." Saqsaywaman is thought to have been both a military fortress and a place of worship. It reportedly required 50 years to complete construction and was built during the reign of Inca Wayna Qhapaq. There are many descriptions of the richness of the decorations here and of the high quality of the objects that were maintained in the stockrooms, so it was surely more than just a military fortress, as some people claim.
There are various theories in regards to the three zigzagging walls. Because of their appearance, it is suggested that they are the teeth of the puma's head that Saqsaywaman represented. Other theorize that the three walls represent the three levels of the Inca Spiritual World: beginning from the bottom is the Ukju Pacha (underground stage), in the middle the Kay Pacha (surface stage), and at the top the Hanan Pacha (sky stage). As well, these three levels can be identified with three animals sacred to the Incas: the Amaru, or Mach'aqway (snake); the puma; and the kuntur (Andean condor). Still, others believe that the zigzag shape of the walls represent the Illapa god (thunder and lightning). Although it is not known for sure, it is possible that all these elements are embodied in the ruins of Saqsaywaman.
Today, only the remains of the three huge walls built for this fortress remain.
The site can most likely be seen by taking one of the many Cusco city tours available through most hotels or tour companies in Cusco. Average price is $10, and they last approximately 4 hours. Hiring a taxi or hiking to it from Cusco are other options. Admission requires the Tourist Ticket, a $20 ticket to gain admittance to 16 historical sites in Cusco and the Sacred Valley.
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