After our first morning in Cuzco wandering around on our own, we were picked up at our hotel in a van with some other tourist to be taken on a Cuzco City Tour for the afternoon. Below is a photo out of the van window of one of the typical streets in Cuzco--although some are actually narrower.
When the Spanish conquered the Incas, they destroyed much of the inner city of Cuzco using the Inca stone blocks again to rebuild the city Spanish style. However, the ruins around the perimeter of the city were sometimes spared the destruction. Many ruins have cut stones weighing many tons which could not be moved. A typical Cuzco city tour will take you on the rim road of the city to see the Inca ruins. Our first stop was the "fortress" of Saqsayhuaman (guides will tell you it sounds almost like "sexy woman"). It is now believed this was not a fortress, but a ceremonial/religous site. It has massive cut stones at the base and walls that are formed in a lightning bolt pattern. We wish we had more time here to actually explore the ruins--maybe next trip.
From Saqsayhuaman we continued along the road to the mysterious temple of Quenqo. Quenqo has a massive natural boulder that was minimally carved to look like a sacred puma, but was defaced by the Spanish. The Incas often looked for forms in the natural rock and sometimes carved them a little to help make the form more recognizable. Below you see the foundation of one temple wall where niches were formed for life size statues.
Quenqo also has a throne carved from the rock for the Inca (king) and a natural cave with a stone table carved out. It is believed the table was used to perform mummification rituals. You can see it in the photo below.
From Quenqo we went to the Inca tambo (waystation) called Tambomachay where there are irrigation channels and baths carved out of the rock.
Fountains at Tambomachay
Next blog post: "The road to Machu Picchu"