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This site is the best known of all the archaeological sites around Cusco, as well as the most interesting. The ruins are located on a hill to the north of Cusco, and offer a splendid view of the city. Sacsayhuaman is generally referred to as a fortress, and although it was used to attack the Spanish in Manco Inca’s rebellion, it is unlikely that this was its original function. It is more likely to have been a ceremonial center, possibly the Royal House of the Sun, and there were places of devotion to the moon, lightening and the stars.
The most impressive items here are the enormous zigzag walls that defended the southern part of the site. Each of these three walls stretch for 300m and is almost 10m tall. The stones in the walls are incredible, the largest of which weigh over 300 tones. They are fitted with usual Inca perfection reserved for important structures. These walls are undoubtedly some of the most impressive structures in all of Peru. It appears that Sacsayhuaman was never completed, even after 20,000 men had worked on the site for 50 years.
This was the site of possibly the most famous battle between the Incas and the Spanish. Manco Inca, the Inca leader the conquistadors had installed after executing Atahuallpa, realized that the situation was untenable and he rejected the position he had been given in order to lead an Inca army against the Spanish. The Inca army took the site of Sacsayhuaman and began to attack the city of Cusco and the Spanish inside, setting fire to the thatched roofs by raining down fiery stones on the city. The Spanish, led by Francisco Pizarro’s brother, Juan, escaped from the city and attacked Sacsayhuaman. Although Juan Pizarro was killed in the attack, the Spanish managed to scale the giant walls of the fortress with ladders and attack the towers. The battle was very violent, with heavy casualties on both sides. It is said that an Inca general, Cahuide, fought particularly bravely, defending the last tower before the Spanish captured it. Rather than be captured himself, he leaped from the tower to his death.
After the Spanish captured Sacsayhuaman, the Incas retreated to the jungle and were all but defeated. The Spanish then used Sacsayhuaman as a prison in the struggle for Peruvian dominance between the Pizarro and Almagro factions. It was also the place where the revolutionary Tupac Amaru II was captured, before being executed in Cusco’s Plaza de Armas.
A vital Inca road once snaked its way up the canyon that enters the Urubamba Valley at Pisac. The citadel, at the entrance to this gorge, now in ruins, controlled a route that connected the Inca Empire with Paucartambo, on the border of the eastern jungles. Set high above a valley floor patch worked by patterned fields and rimmed by vast terracing, the stonework and panoramas at Pisac's Inca citadel are magnificent. Terraces, water ducts and steps have been cut out of solid rock, and in the upper sector of the ruins, the main Sun Temple is equal to anything at Machu Picchu. Above the temple lie still more ruins, mostly unexcavated, and among the higher crevices and rocky overhangs several ancient burial sites are hidden.

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