Cusco and the Inca Ruins at Saqsaywaman

Cusco

The attractive city of Cusco was the next base in our tour of Peru.

Cusco cathedral, Peru

Cusco centre and cathedral

Cusco is situated at an altitude of around 3360m, and unless you have spent time acclimatizing in the lower Sacred Valley, you will definitely feel the effects.  It is best to take the first couple of days slowly and make sure you stay hydrated (bottled water is safest).



Fortunately the centre of Cusco is really pleasant to stroll around, with laid out gardens, lots of seats and views of the surrounding mountains.

Cusco centre, Peru

Cusco centre

Cusco

Cusco

We spent three nights in the modest but very conveniently situated Casa Andina Cusco Plaza hotel, which is just off the central plaza and near lots of restaurants.

Restaurant with balcony

Everywhere in Cusco there are fine examples of Inca walls.   They have withstood the test of time, whereas much of the later Spanish architecture had to be rebuilt after earthquakes.

Inca wall in Cusco, Peru

Typical example of an Inca wall in Cusco

In fact many of the old Inca walls have been built upon and incorporated into the modern structures of the city.

Architectural blend that makes up Cusco

A Day Trip to the Hugely Impressive Inca Citadel at Saqsaywaman

One day we took a taxi up to the site of the Inca citadel at Saqsaywaman (also spelt Sacsayhuaman and Saksaywaman).  This is situated above Cusco centre and can easily be reached by taxi (it is a good idea to use an official taxi ordered through your hotel).

After seeing the fantastic Inca sites at Pisac, Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu I didn’t expect to be so impressed by Saqsaywaman, but I was wrong.  The site is amazing.

What makes Saqsaywaman so special is the huge size of the stone blocks used to build the walls here, and how perfectly they fit together.

Inca walls and terraces at Saqsaywaman, Cusco, Peru

Beautifully constructed walls and terraces

Inca walls at Saqsaywaman, Cusco, Peru

Massive stone blocks fitting perfectly

Inca stone wall at Saqsaywaman, Cusco, Peru

The scale of the walls is massive

Stone wall and doorway at Saqsaywaman, Cusco, Peru

Doorway

Inca ruins at Saqsaywaman, Cusco, Peru

Another view of the ruins

The site is hugely atmospheric, and there are also great views of the surrounding mountains.

View over Cusco to the Andes, Peru

View over Cusco to the Andes

You can also visit the statue Cristo Blanco (White Christ) which looks over Cusco from the adjacent hill.  There are more great views from here.

Cristo Blanco, Cusco, Peru

Hilltop setting of the Cristo Blanco statue

Cristo Blanco above Cusco, Peru

Cristo Blanco

To visit Saqsaywaman the best option is to purchase a ticket which covers many of the historical sites in Cusco and the Sacred Valley (the Boleto Turistico).  You can buy this in Cusco, or at the entrance to any of the sites, and it is valid for 10 days.  If you do not have time to visit other sites, more limited tickets are also available.

You can also visit Viator’s site for a wide range of tours, visits and excursions throughout Peru.



After visiting the site we walked back down to Cusco rather than use a taxi.  This is a very pleasant walk taking around an hour, some of it on steps, with great views of the city.   There are places to stop for a pleasant lunch on the way down.

If you are in Cusco don’t miss visiting Saqsaywaman.  Even if you have visited other Inca sites, you cannot fail to be impressed by this one.

To read about our trip to the beautiful Inca site at Tipon, please follow the link.

For information about travelling to and within Peru please see the Practicalities page.

Please remember that this site is based entirely on our own experiences, therfore kindly note the disclaimer.

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