Curiosities and Data about the archaeological site of Qenqo

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    General Data of Q'enqo

    Qenqo (3,580 meters above sea level) is one of the most important archaeological attractions in Cusco. It is located just 4 kilometers from the Imperial Imperial City ’and a few meters from Sacsayhuamán, Tambomachay, Puca Pucara and other important Inca sites. This archaeological center must have been very important due to the amazing remains that are still erected despite the destruction caused by the Spanish in the place. It is believed that the Inca gods such as the sun, the moon, the mountains and the earth were worshiped there. Even today there are many mysteries that surround this place. Know 8 interesting facts about this incredible place.

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    Inca mazes

    Qenqo (also known as Kenko) is a Quechua word (Q’inqu) that means ‘labyrinth’. This refers to the underground galleries in various directions and the zigzag-shaped channels on stone. This name was put by the Spanish after the conquest. The original Inca name is unknown. Although a large part of its constructions (aqueducts, terraces, trails, colcas and liturgical baths) were destroyed by the conquerors, even today it is possible to appreciate the skill with which the Incas worked the stones.

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    Underground galleries

    Qenqo is located in the current Socorro hill. This place covers an area of ​​up to 3,500 square meters of rocky land. This land was ideal for the construction of underground galleries which are one of the main attractions of the site. These lead to various spaces in the archaeological complex. Like Puca Pucara and Sacsayhuaman, the existence of these underground tunnels or ‘chincanas’ were of great importance. It is even believed that in the Sacsayhuamán fortress there is a tunnel that connects to the Coricancha (Temple of the Sun).

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    Small way, big wa

    The Qenqo Archaeological Site is divided into two places according to the paths that lead to it: the small path and the large path. The first crosses a slope of the Socorro hill. The second is the longest, which is at the foot of the hill and leads from Sacsayhuamán to Pisac. Qenqo grande encompasses most of the current tourist buildings such as Qenqo chico underground galleries, however, it is almost completely destroyed except for some carved stone walls and the urban layout of the site.

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    In the same style as the Roman amphitheatres, the Incas built a 55-meter long semicircular platform surrounded by unfinished niches in Qenqo. In the middle is a huge irregularly shaped stone block (6 meters) erected in a rectangular block. In this place is the carved passage that leads to the underground galleries. Although it is popularly known as an amphitheater, its objective is still uncertain. It is presumed that this place should have served as a ceremonial center. The destruction caused during the conquest does not allow to appreciate the true majesty of the site.

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    Blood Offerings

    Like many ancient cultures, the Incas offered the blood of different animals to worship their gods. They even went so far as to make human sacrifices. Among the most used elements for these rites are the blood of llamas, alpacas, or chicha, a fermented drink based on grains. At Qenqo there is a rocky elevation that leads to a carved stone stairway to the top. There the Incas worked a hole that descends in a zigzag until it is divided into 2 points, one to the underground galleries and the other that continues on a slope. It is presumed that chicha or llama blood was offered there

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    One of the main attractions of the Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu is the Intihuatana (‘place where the sun is tied’) or astronomical observatory to calculate the solar position. A similar construction exists in several important archaeological sites such as Ollantaytambo and Qenqo. The latter is located on the base of a rock where two small cylindrical formations stand out. This lithic structure must have served as an astronomical observatory where the changes in the season were calculated, as well as a shrine to the sun, moon and stars.

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    The Monkey Temple

    At 500 meters from Qenqo Grande some irregularly carved rock constructions stand out called Cusillachayoc, a Quechua word translated as Temple of the monkeys. This rock has relief zoomorphic figures of which the shapes of snakes and monkeys stand out; which gave the name to the enclosure. Due to the destruction of the place, many of the main structures are deteriorated. On the site you can see the remains of a water conduit and the rock whose figure was probably that of a cougar.

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    Human sacrifices

    The Incas made human sacrifices called ‘capacocha’. In Qenqo, it is believed that there was a mortuary room called the ‘Hall of Sacrifices’. This large rock-cut platform resembles a large seat and is located in the underground galleries. In this structure, floors, walls, ceilings, niches and other forms were carved in which, presumably, human and animal sacrifices as well as embalming were carried out. The mortuary room is one of the spaces of the enclosure in the best condition.

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    How to get ?
    the Plaza de Armas by bus, it takes about 15 minutes to get to Qenqo. You can hire a City Tour or a private service. On foot it takes approximately 50 minutes. The entrance is with the Tourist Ticket of Cusco.

    Hours of operation:

    Monday through Sunday from 07:00 a.m. at 06:00 p.m.

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