+51 932713545 – +51984107751 – +51 932713545 – +51984107756 info@andeanpathtravel.com San José #100, Santiago – Cusco


The fortress of Sacsayhuaman astounded the Spanish conquerors. In 1534, chronicler Pedro Sancho, secretary to Francisco Pizarro, wrote that the fortress, “…has so many large rooms and towers that a person could not see it all in one day and many Spaniards who have seen it and have traveled in Lombardy and other foreign kingdoms, say they have not seen any other building like this fortress, nor a stronger castle.”

The Spanish and the Incas fought a battle at this fortress during the rebellion of Manco Inca in 1536. According to legend, the Inca captain Cahuide threw himself from the highest tower, called Muyocmarca (round room), to avoid the dishonor of being captured by his enemies.

The original name of this site causes controversy existing many interpretations. The form stated by tradition is Saqsaywaman (in the native language accent is in “wa”) that comes from the Quechua verb “saqsay”= to satiate or to get satiated, and the noun “waman”= falcon; thence, in a narrow sense as it is found with the imperative verb, it means “get satiated falcon”. Some others believe that the name is Saqsawaman that is derived from “saqsa”= marbled, speckled, and “waman”= falcon; in the Quechua language the noun goes after the adjective, thus, it would mean “marbled falcon”. Likewise, history demonstrates that Qosqo City had the shape of a puma (cougar or mountain lion) which head was formed by this complex. So, its name is perhaps a deformation of Saqsauma that comes from “saqsa”= marbled, and “uma”= head; meaning like this “marbled head”.

Saqsayhuaman Fortress

Saqsayhuaman Fortress

Its construction was began by the ninth Inka: Pachakuteq, that is, after 1438. In spite of the many criticisms he got, Garcilaso Inca de la Vega (1539-1616) gives most of the information and better describes the monument. Garcilaso was son of Isabel Chimpu Oqllo, a Quechua princess who was first cousin of Inka Atawallpa, and the Spanish Captain Garcia Lasso de la Vega, related to the Spanish nobility. Garcilaso wrote that its construction lasted about 50 years until the Wayna Qhapaq’s period; so when Spaniards arrived it was completely finished and fully in use.

Pedro Cieza de Leon asserts that for its construction about 20 thousand men were brought and that the different towns must have sent “necessary supplies” for their sustenance. That was not a permanent crew, because workers were replaced temporarily. In the Inkan Society there were no slaves as in the Old World. Since money was not known over here, people had to pay taxes to the Inkan Government as labor or as divers goods such as food, clothing, weapons, etc.

Today, when reading books, brochures or some other written material about this site; normally the name “Saqsaywaman Fortress” is found. Chroniclers state that Saqsaywaman was built in order to put it ahead of the city’s Sun Temple, Cieza de Leon indicates that it was a “ Royal House of the Sun“, Garcilaso says that it was a “ …Sun’s House, of war weapons, as well as it was a temple for prayers and sacrifices“. Thus it is evident, that Saqsaywaman had a preponderant religious duty, that is why it was very well protected.

Confusion starts in 1536 when Manko Inka gave it a warlike duty in order to fight against the invaders that had occupied the downtown area of the city. In this place Juan Pizarro (Francisco’s brother) received a blow with a stone that sent him to his grave; in the Saqsaywaman siege also appeared a Quechua warrior whose name according to tradition was Qawide or Kullas (an anonymous nobleman whose real name does not matter) that defended with amazing bravery the Inkan position, exalted even by Spanish chroniclers. Before all that, in 1535, in this same spot Manko Inka or Manko II was secluded, humbled and ill-treated when claiming to the Spanish conquerors restitution of his society.


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