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Sacsayhuaman

The colossal stones of Cusco’s hilltop fortress are a powerful testimony to the ingenuity of Incan construction techniques.

Venture into the archaeological park just outside Cusco’s city center to explore the ruins of Sacsayhuaman. This colossal stone fortress and temple sits on a steep hill overlooking the city and attests to the brilliance of Incan engineering. Come to observe traditional Incan ceremonies and to admire how the structure was built, noting the large limestone blocks that lock together without mortar.

In its heyday, Sacsayhuaman encompassed three stone towers and buildings for up to 5,000 soldiers. Following the fall of the Incan Empire, the complex was used as a stone quarry. Today, only three tiered rows of zigzag walls remain. Walk around them and marvel at some of the largest stones found in any Inca ruin. A few are more than 10 feet (3 meters) high and weigh more than 100 tons (91,000 kilograms). The biggest stone is 28 feet (8.5 meters) high.

Observe the Inca stonework, particularly the way the blocks fit together in a variety of interlocking shapes. Note the three large concentric rings on the ground. These rings were the foundations of the fort’s main tower. Archaeologists believe that Cusco was built in the shape of a puma and that Sacsayhuaman forms the head. The walls are said to make up the animal’s teeth.

Sacsayhuaman is more than a tourist attraction as it plays an important ceremonial role during the Inca Festival of the Sun, Inti Raymi. Enjoy street fairs and live music throughout the city during this week-long celebration, which culminates on June 24 with a ceremony on the large, flat area in front of the fortress. Watch hundreds of locals dressed in elaborate traditional costume perform ritual sacrifices and dances. 

The colossal stone blocks of Sacsayhuaman are 1.4 miles (2 kilometers) north of Cusco’s main square. Book a tour from the city center or take a taxi. The 30-minute walk is steep, reaching an altitude of 12,140 feet (3,700 meters). A fee applies to enter the archaeological park, which includes admission to other sites including Qenqo and Tambomachay.


Guide to Exploring around Sacsayhuaman


Best Lodging Options Near Sacsayhuaman

See all 1,185 Properties near Sacsayhuaman
Hilton Garden Inn Cusco $64
Hilton Garden Inn Cusco

Hilton Garden Inn Cusco

Santa Ana, Avenida Abancay 207, Cusco, Cusco
     
    3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in Cusco Historic Center, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of San Pedro Church and San Pedro Market. Plaza de Armas and Cusco Cathedral are also within 15 minutes. San Pedro Station is 10 minutes by foot and Cusco Wanchaq Station is 26 minutes.

    Sonesta Hotel Cusco $73
    Sonesta Hotel Cusco

    Sonesta Hotel Cusco

    Ave. El Sol 954, Cusco, Cusco
       
      4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Cusco Historic Center, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Cusco Craft Center and Plaza de Armas. Cusco Cathedral and San Pedro Market are also within 1 mi (2 km). Cusco Wanchaq Station is only a 3-minute walk and San Pedro Station is 16 minutes.

      Casa Andina Premium Cusco $90
      Casa Andina Premium Cusco

      Casa Andina Premium Cusco

      Plazoleta De Limacpampa Chico - 473, Cusco, Cusco
         
        4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Cusco Historic Center, this historic hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Quechua Museum, Plaza de Armas, and Cusco Cathedral. San Pedro Market is 0.7 mi (1.2 km) away. Cusco Wanchaq Station is 10 minutes by foot and San Pedro Station is 15 minutes.

        JW Marriott El Convento Cusco $167
        JW Marriott El Convento Cusco

        JW Marriott El Convento Cusco

        Esquina De La Calle Ruinas 432, y San Agustin, Cusco, Cusco
           
          5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Cusco Historic Center, this luxury hotel is within a 5-minute walk of UNSAAC Yale International Center, Plaza de Armas, and Cusco Cathedral. San Pedro Market is 0.6 mi (1 km) away. Cusco Wanchaq Station is 15 minutes by foot and San Pedro Station is 15 minutes.

          Tambo del Arriero Hotel Boutique $66
          Tambo del Arriero Hotel Boutique

          Tambo del Arriero Hotel Boutique

          Calle Nueva Alta 484, Cusco, Cusco
             
            3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Cusco Historic Center, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of San Pedro Market, San Pedro Church, and ChocoMuseum. Plaza de Armas and Inca Museum are also within 10 minutes. San Pedro Station is 8 minutes by foot and Cusco Wanchaq Station is 23 minutes.

            Ramada Costa Del Sol Cusco $49
            Ramada Costa Del Sol Cusco

            Ramada Costa Del Sol Cusco

            Santa Teresa N 344, Cusco, Cusco
               
              3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Cusco Historic Center, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Museo de Plantas Sagradas Magicas y Medicinales and Plaza de Armas. Cusco Cathedral and San Pedro Market are also within 10 minutes. San Pedro Station is 11 minutes by foot and Cusco Wanchaq Station is 18 minutes.

              Palacio del Inka, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Cusco $159
              Palacio del Inka, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Cusco

              Palacio del Inka, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Cusco

              Plazoleta Santo Domingo No 259, Cusco, Cusco
                 
                5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Cusco Historic Center, this luxury hotel is steps from Coricancha and Kusicancha. Centro de Textiles and Santa Catalina Convent are also within 10 minutes. Cusco Wanchaq Station is 10 minutes by foot and San Pedro Station is 14 minutes.

                Belmond Palacio Nazarenas $390
                Belmond Palacio Nazarenas

                Belmond Palacio Nazarenas

                Calle Plazoleta Nazarenas 223, Cusco, Cusco
                   
                  5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Cusco Historic Center, this luxury hotel is steps from Pre-Columbian Art Museum, Inca Museum, and Cusco Cathedral. Plaza de Armas and Coricancha are also within 10 minutes. San Pedro Station is 14 minutes by foot and Cusco Wanchaq Station is 17 minutes.