CITY TOUR CUSCO
Coricancha • Sacsayhuamán • Tambomachay • Pukapukara • Qenqo
Monastery Santo Domingo – Coricancha
The Coricancha was the holiest place where the Incas celebrated weddings, coronations, burials and rites of “national” importance. The temple of inti (sun) could only be entered by incas sober, barefoot and, as a sign of their humility, with a burden on their back, following the directions of Willaq Umu, the high priest of the cun cult. He always lived near the Sapa Inka. If the Sapa Inca was in Cusco, the Coricancha was the seat of Villac Umu and its main location. In addition to the main sun temple of the empire, six other temples, Inti Pampa (Quechua = sun field), were added to the cult of other deities, such as Mama Killa (mother moon) and Illapa, the god of lightning and thunder, the cult of venus (Ch’aska quyllur). and the pleiades (Suchu, qullqa quyllur), the weather gods and the rainbow (K’uychi, in the “snake temple” Amarukancha) served.
The interior of the temple, along with other treasures, also had the golden disk that represented the sun, as well as a representation of the entire inca pantheon. In trapezoidal niches in the walls and on golden thrones, the royal mummies were set up and decorated with golden masks and extremely finely woven fabrics. The mummies were ritually provided with food and drink by servants. The floor and walls were originally covered with 700 solid gold plates. The massive golden sun disk in the shape of a human being was placed in front of a wall richly decorated with emeralds and turquoises, so that the rising sun was reflected by the metal and the precious stones, throwing back a dazzling golden light.
The adjoining room, which was dedicated to the moon goddess Mama Killa, was completely covered in silver. Here, a platinum silver moon disc in female form was worshiped as the bride and sister of the sun god 10 meters in diameter and over 900 kg in weight and prayed for intercession and blessing. In this room were the mummies of the “Coyas,” the queens.
The chronicler Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa assured that Pachacútec had large, gold-framed canvases hung in the Coricancha on which the inca story was recorded, which was later stored in the adjacent “Puquincancha”, the “National Archives” and in the storm on Cusco together caught fire with the city. Pachacútec made the Coricancha the scene of a unique process in pre-columbian America, a “theologian” congress, a kind of council in which the Viracocha cult was reformed. Pachacútec had set up an oval portrait of Viracocha in the Coricancha, just as the other main deities in the Coricancha had an oval portrait.
There was also a sacred garden in his neighborhood, adorned with golden figures of life-size humans, animals and plants. The chronicler Pedro Cieza de León described: “In which the earth consisted of lumps of fine gold, with corn plants with golden stems, leaves and pistons planted so firmly that they were not uprooted, no matter how strong the wind blew. Nearby, twenty golden llamas grazed with their lambs, guarded by life-sized shepherds with crooks and slingshots, all of which were pure gold. “Well-dressed indigenous girls picked golden fruit from golden trees here. On the branches of golden trees and shrubs, birds made of gold, such as hummingbirds, rocked. Golden snakes, their eyes sparkling with dark gemstones, twisted across the floor. In meadows, whose individual blades were deceptively made of gold, flowers glittered with precious stones, on which golden butterflies settled and crawled through the golden beetles. There were also lizards, mice and even spiders, but also watering cans and five gold wells. Similar gardens in silver adorned other temple courts. Gold and silver were exclusively of cultic value, since gold was considered the “sweat beads of the sun” and silver the “tears of the moon”.
Although the Coricancha itself was not on the list of sanctuaries, the Spaniards suspected because of the rich offerings that he considered the Inca as the most holy place, which is why they built here a church with a convent.
Sacsayhuamán – An Inca Fortress
High above the roofs of Cusco, at a distance of about 4 kilometers to the northeast, is the fortress ruins of Sacsayhuamán, from whose upper viewing platform you can see the city of Cusco and the Plaza de Armas in the historic center.
The defense lines consist of several terraced walls built on top of each other. The really impressive stones were transported from the quarries of the surrounding area and then worked by the workers very precisely until they fit very precisely jointless to each other. This still appears today as the absolute perfection! How the oversized stones were transported at that time is still a mystery today. The largest stone has an estimated weight of approx. 200 t and measures approx. 9m x 5m x 4m. The stone walls of the fortification are still very impressive today.
Every year on the 24th of June, the world famous sun festival – Inti Raymi – is celebrated in Cusco and especially in Sacayhuamán. For this purpose, a stage will be set up on the square in the middle of the fortress and the customs of Inca’s life will be presented with a very large number of participating performers and very elaborate costumes. So if you want to be in Cusco for June at this time, it is recommended to book in advance and also to pre-book the tickets for Sascayhuaman.
The statue of Cristo Blanco (White Christ), standing near the fortress and looking down on Cusco, was built as a gift from a group of Christian Palestinians who sought refuge in Cusco in 1945. It is a symbol of their gratitude to the city and was their farewell gift when they finally returned to their homeland.
Tambomachay – The Bath of the Inca
Tambomachay is located at about 3.765 m altitude and about 10 kilometers northeast of Cusco and is a very old water sanctuary from the inca period. Here we can admire an old inca bath with a beautiful architecture of several finely worked stone structures. The aqueducts and cascades are fed by several nearby springs.The water pours there in various channels over four terraced levels. For this, the natural rocks were carved and supplemented with artificial masonry.A myth of the Quechua legends says something about the effects of the three small streams. If you drink from the watercourse on the bottom right, you should get younger, drink from the watercourse at the bottom left, then you will soon get twins. The upper watercourse should have a blessing effect.Tambomachay was associated with the worship of the water, an important element of the andean people’s world view, and therefore there are aqueducts elaborately constructed from the rocks that provide clean water all year round. Because of its name, which means “place of rest”, it is believed that it is a recreational bath of the incas.
Pukapukara (The Red Fortress) was once a kind of control and storage post consisting of towers and shelters. From the former fortress, whose stones stood in the evening setting in the red sunlight, are still many terraces, walls and stairs left.
The fortification certainly served as a defense in the inca period. But it was also a strategic checkpoint to secure the economic routes between Cusco and the northeast Urubamba valley and the city of Pisac, which is also considered the fortress of the incas.
Quenqo or in Quechua named Q’enqo was undoubtedly one of the most important shrines of the Incas. Despite the huge destruction suffered during the colonial era, one can still see today that once a colossal complex.
This is an underground chamber made of a gigantic rock. In the lower part of the large rock floor, ceiling, walls, tables, cabinets are provided with extensive Felszeichnugnen. It is alleged that this underground chamber was used to embalm people of higher noble lineage. But it is also possible that there may have been human sacrifices and lamas in favor of the Incas.
Intiwatana and the astronomical observatory
Two large cylindrical rocks carved out of extraordinary technique are placed vertically on an almost elliptical pedestal. Everything has been cut out of a single block of stone. There are still many puzzles left, as it was used during the Inca empire, but it was probably a kind of astronomical observatory. A kind of timekeeping and the determination of the seasons, as well as the solstice are always discussed. But there are also voices claiming that it is a shrine to worship the sun, the moon, Venus and the stars in general.
The channel of the tadpole
This is a big rock near Intiwatana. The canal runs back and forth, and there are people who see it as a tadpole shaped canal. According to the historian Victor Angles Cusco, it is one of the branches that circulated the liquid through the subterranean chamber or the sacrificial chamber. Chicha could have been ordained as a liquid or sacrificed there. Also, one suspects the blood of beings (animal and / or human) was offered to the gods.
This is a huge semicircular surface of about 55 m in length, consisting of 19 incomplete niches distributed on the wall. During the Inca period, this place was a temple for large public ceremonies. In the open area in front of it is a six-meter-high stone block resting on a solid rectangular pedestal. There were seats around the amphitheater. According to recent research, it is very likely that the niches have been the base of a great wall to represent a unity worshiped by the Incas.
This trip lasts half a day. We will pick you up at the hotel at about 1.30 pm. The groups will first visit the centre of Cusco, having with us a professional guide. First he will present the Cathedral (build in a Baroque style and having paintings of the Cusqueña school) and the temple of Qoricancha, more known as the gold covered temple (A place which we will appreciate in all its enchantment, the temple of the Thunderclap, Ray, Lightning, Rainbow, Stars and the temple of Santo Domingo). These attractions are important in a time of constant cultural development in architecture, religion and policy, started in the colonial time.
Next, we will visit the fortress of Sacsayhuaman, situated on a mountain overlooking Cusco. Sacsayhuaman, a walled-complex is as many other Inca constructions made of large polished dry-stone walls, each boulder carefully cut to fit together tightly without mortar. Sacsayhuaman is a huge, stunning site, which holds the great house of the Sun, where the head of the Puma of Cusco resides. Its megalithic, zigzag stonewalls were pieced together with amazing skill, drawing the snake and other Andean symbols, like a lightning bolt across a great field.
Following we will set course to Qenqo, also known as the Labyrinth. This temple dedicated to Mother Earth is a unique center of celebrations and astronomical studies. It has numerous ceremonial carvings, holes and canals cut into the rock. One of its features is a semi-natural underground chamber.
Later on we will visit Pucapucara, This complex contains several rooms, inner plazas, aqueducts, vantage points, and pathways. It might have served as a tambo or rest and lodging area.
Last but not least we will go to the archeological site of Tambomachay. Tambomachay might have fulfilled an important altar function linked to water and the regeneration of the land and closely linked with Pucapucara. The area covers about one hectare, and was made out of polygonal shaped set limestone.
We will return to Cusco around 6:30 pm.
- Private tourist transport.
- Professional guide in English or Spanish.
- Entrance to the Cathedral and the Temple of Qoricancha (Temple of the sun).
- Boleto turístico (BTG) for entrance to the archeologic complexes.
- A valid Boleto Turistico is necessary for both of the City Tour. It can be purchased from the City Tours. There are two options for buying a BTG:
- One general BTG that costs $ 50 USD, valid for 10 days, which can be used to visit many places in Cusco, including archaeological sites, cultural centres and museums that you can visit by your own in your free time, and also for the visit to all the archaeological sites in the Sacred Valley.
- In addition, the other option is a partial BTG that costs $ 28 USD, valid just for one day, which only can be used for visiting just some specific places.
- The entrance fee for the Cathedral is $11 dollars and for the Temple of the Sun $ 5 USD.