Surveying Sacsayhuaman

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It’s a temple! It’s a fortress! It’s Sacsayhuaman!

As Danielle mentioned in her last blog post, June is Cusco month! So to celebrate this beautiful region and its history, we decided to take our Santoni girls on a field trip to Sacsayhuaman.

Sacsayhuaman is the most important and extensive ruin within the city of Cusco. It is also one of the most impressive examples of Incan stonework and architectural skill. The largest stone on the site is 8.5 meters tall and weighs 361 tons! Stones of this and similar size were strategically placed for structural strength. The site is thought by some to be a fortress, primarily because a historic battle was fought there between the Incas and the Spanish in the 1530s. However, many consider Sacsayhuaman to be an important religious site, and it serves as the location of the Inti Raymi or “Sun Festival” ceremony each year.

Although the Spanish looted Sacsayhuaman for pre-cut stones to use to construct buildings in the city, there are still many fascinating features to explore. We started out with the chincanas or tunnels. The Quechua word chincana literally translates to “a place to get lost.” Legend has it that there is a labyrinth of chincanas running throughout Sacsayhuaman in which many a traveler has gotten lost and perished. Luckily, the “chincanas” that we and our students traveled through were in fact just defunct water conduits. Our girls bravely confronted the darkness and emerged to tell the tale!

We then moved on to the “rodadero de piedra,” a unique rock formation that serves as a natural slide. The smooth, undulating surface of the rock is perfect for children to launch themselves down and give their profes heart attacks. While our students courageously slid down the rodadero, I found myself desperately searching for holds on the smooth rock to slow myself down!

We had some extra time to climb up to the Cristo Blanco statue, which is located right next to Sacsayhuaman and offers stunning views of Cusco. After taking in the views and snapping some pictures, a very kind tour bus driver transported us to the bottom in his double-decker bus!

June has been joyful, hectic, and full to the brim with celebrations of Cusco’s vibrant culture. We were so glad to share in this exploration and celebration with our students!

– Adrie

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