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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.

Popular Activities at Sacsayhuaman

There are so many ways to enjoy this attraction. We've put together some things you can do at Sacsayhuaman:

Take a look at our Cusco things to do page to find even more activities in the area.


Guide to Exploring around Sacsayhuaman


Map

Best Lodging Options Near Sacsayhuaman

See all 920 properties near Sacsayhuaman
JW Marriott El Convento Cusco C$312
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. Museum of Religious Art and Hatunrumiyoc are also within 5 minutes. Cusco Wanchaq Station is 14 minutes by foot and San Pedro Station is 15 minutes.

    Hilton Garden Inn Cusco C$129
    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 15-minute walk of San Pedro Church, Plaza de Armas, and Cusco Cathedral. Museo de Plantas Sagradas Magicas y Medicinales and Calle Marquez are also within 10 minutes. San Pedro Station is 10 minutes by foot and Cusco Wanchaq Station is 25 minutes.

      Palacio del Inka, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Cusco C$226
      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.

        Selina Plaza De Armas Cusco C$56
        Selina Plaza De Armas Cusco

        Selina Plaza De Armas Cusco

        Calle Garcilaso 150, Cusco
           
          2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Cusco Historic Center, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Plaza de Armas, Inca Museum, and Cusco Cathedral. Coricancha and Real Plaza Cusco are also within 3 mi (5 km). San Pedro Station is 8 minutes by foot and Cusco Wanchaq Station is 17 minutes.

          Antigua Casona San Blas C$189
          Antigua Casona San Blas

          Antigua Casona San Blas

          Calle Carmen Bajo 243, San Blas, Cusco
             
            4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Cusco Historic Center, this spa hotel is within a 10-minute walk of San Blas Church, Plaza de Armas, and Cusco Cathedral. Hatunrumiyoc and Twelve Angled Stone are also within 5 minutes. Cusco Wanchaq Station is 15 minutes by foot and San Pedro Station is 18 minutes.

            Novotel Cusco C$160
            Novotel Cusco

            Novotel Cusco

            San Augustin 239 Esquina, Cusco, Cusco
               
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Cusco Historic Center, this historic hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Hatunrumiyoc, Plaza de Armas, and Cusco Cathedral. UNSAAC Yale International Center and Museum of Religious Art are also within 5 minutes. Cusco Wanchaq Station is 14 minutes by foot and San Pedro Station is 15 minutes.

              Belmond Hotel Monasterio C$335
              Belmond Hotel Monasterio

              Belmond Hotel Monasterio

              Plazoleta Nazarenas 337, 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 San Blas Church are also within 5 minutes. San Pedro Station is 14 minutes by foot and Cusco Wanchaq Station is 17 minutes.

                Sonesta Hotel Cusco C$107
                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 is 0.8 mi (1.3 km) away. Cusco Wanchaq Station is only a 3-minute walk and San Pedro Station is 16 minutes.