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The head of the puma

They thought it was something out of this world because their eyes of conquerors had never seen so high walls, enormous towers or huge stones. The first Spaniards in Sacsayhuaman thought it was work of devils. It is the monumental archaeological complex located 2 kilometers to the north of Cusco: the Archaeological Capital of America.

    Everything was so rare, so huge, so perfect. Stone over stone, big, heavy as they would have been pieces of mountains moved by a strange force: "human?, divine?,evil, a work of devil", the men coming from the other part of the world affirmed while being terrified, amazed and unable to figure out any other explanation.

    The Andean world did not stop amazing and annoying them. It was not only the altitude and the lack of air but also the language and that religion ignoring crosses, saints and bibles. It was only their simple but powerful law in all the Empire: you must not lie, steal or be lazy. As simple as that.
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    It was also those constructions: Perfect, huge, indestructible, gigantic that make the Spanish feel suspicious. They refused to believe that those heavy stones had been moved by the subjects of the Inca. Those children of a civilization ignoring the wheel and lacking of beast of burden.

    The chroniclers of the Conquest wrote that not even in the strangest Empire they had seen such a strong fortress or castle made of so big stones, only the smallest stone could have been taken by three carriages. Besides they were completely sure that it was a fortress as it had towers and walls. What else could it be? They said.

    But the searchers of these times disagree with those statements and they affirm that Sacsayhuaman was not a fortress but on the contrary, a religious monument built to honor the Sun God. For this reason they were very careful with its design and the harmony of the elements with the environment.

    One thing they are sure about is that Sacsayhuaman was designed to create impact and respect among the poor mortals, and also to show the power of the Incas as it was explained by the Inca Garcilazo de la Vega in one of his stories about the prehispanic monument. He was the first hybrid chronicler in the colony.

    The first "visitors" in this Inca complex ignored that according to the design of the architects of the Empire, seen from the top, the city of Cusco was the lying stone puma and Sacsayhuaman with its towers and walls was the head of this feline in eternal rest.

Secrets of stone
    The story repeats. Visitors, children from all nations, continue getting amazed in front of the unusual architecture of Sacsayhuaman composed of three platforms. They are about 360 meters long. To enter them you have to cross three facades: tiupunco (tiu= sand and punco=door), acahuanapunco and viracochapunco in honor to Viracocha God.

    The three platforms are equally beautiful but the first one is maybe the most attractive as it is the longest. Its "bricks" of stone are up to 9 meters long, 5 meters wide and 4 meters deep and about 36 tones.

    As amazing as the platforms we find the main wall. It has excellent stone blocks. Some of them could be 125 tones. Obviously the construction was clean and accurate because the Inca architects did not use any kind of mortar.

    And as the story repeats, men and women that visit Sacsayhuaman now are also looking for answers and reasons. They want to know who ordered the construction, how they moved the blocks, how many people participated in the work and… where is the guide? so he can tell us everything, answers all of our questions, the doubts and the certainties, the truth and the speculations.

    Its construction was started in the time of the Inca Pachacutec, says the guide, always using conditionals and with some doubts. The story of the Children of the Sun is always like that: not very clear with shadows, with omissions because they did not have writings. Everything was pure collective memory, oral sources as the specialists called them.

    The work was continued by Tupac Yupanqui and finished by Huayna Capac, explains the guide now without doubts, as this was said by Garcilaso de la Vega. It took 50 years, then to conclude he says that about 20 thousand men had participated in the construction of the complex.

    The guide also says that the chroniclers described the existence of three towers in their texts: Muyoc-marca (a circular room), an Inca house with walls probably covered with gold and silver, Sallac-marca (a room with water) and Paucar-marca (beautiful room).

    In the moving years of the Colony, Sacsayhuaman was occupied by the rebel Inca Manco II during his fight against the Spaniards. Then one of his captains called Cahuide decided to throw himself from the tower of Muyoc-marca. He preferred to die before falling in enemy's hands.

    Now, the head of the puma continue roaring on its way. Every year its centenary esplanades, walls and passages are still used for the same ancient purposes like being scenery of the most important rites of the Andean Gods: the Inti Raymi or the Sun festivity, the glorious Inca celebration. Sacsayhuaman is still alive. Sacsayhuaman continues amazing us.

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