The Sacred Valley

The next 2 days were dedicated to visiting sites in the Sacred Valley around Cusco.

Saqsaywaman: (pronounced Sexywoman by English speakers) means Satiate Falcon in Quechua and was built by the Incas. The site was used as a quarry by the Spaniards to build a cathedral, temples and houses. The surprising thing about the site is the size and weight of the stones (the largest one weighs 70 tons!) and how the Incas managed to build these walls. Saqsaywaman is still used to celebrate Inti Raymi (sun) every June 24th.

Pisaq: the small town is known for its fairs. The archeological site is composed of interesting and perfect stonemasonry buildings, which used to be a city. The Incas built warehouses for food in high altitudes and were able to preserve their crops because of the cold temperatures.

Ollantaytambo: The town conserved the urban planning of the houses, streets and waterways used by the Incas, as well as a fortress, squares etc. It was built on top of two mountains (a strategic place that dominates the whole Valley) and in some streets you can see colonial houses that were built on top of the Inca constructions.

Moray: the site is unique and impressive. Its name comes from the Quechua word Aymoray, which is related to the harvest of corn or to the month of May. The site, with its circular farming terraces each having its own micro-climate, was used as a laboratory for various plants and crops, and then they would know where to plant in the valley.

Chinchero: The view from this little village is amazing as well with views on lakes, mountains and fields. There are many weavings and the traditional ways are still practiced and taught to young girls. There is a big Sunday market every week. The colonial church is very impressive and was built over ancient Incan foundations.

Tipon: Is the perfect example of Incan intelligence and ingenuity. The irrigation systems made of water channels were built so that the water flows in a constant speed. The terraces are surrounded by perfect walls. The aesthetically pleasing waterfall is the most complete and largest known hydraulic system built by the Incas.

Pikillaqta: (means “City of Fleas”) is a site that dates from the pre-incan culture known as Wari (500-900 B.C.) and covers an area of 25 thousand acres. The perfectly straight streets are still visible, the houses were 2-3 storeys high and some walls went up to 40 feet. It is the oldest archaeological site that resembles a military facility because of the citadel surrounded by embankment and high walls.

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