Peru is known for its many Incan ruins. I just had no idea how many sites there actually were. Many were destroyed by the Spaniards, but quite a few reminders of the Incan civilization remain. We purchased a pass to see about about 10 sites in the larger Cusco area for one big price. It seems to be worth it if you end up visiting two or three sites. Of course, it does not include Machu Picchu.
The first site we visited was Sacsayhuaman. When pronounced it sounds very much like 'sexy woman' so that's what we all called it. It's just north of historical Cusco (the former capital of the Incan Empire) and you can hike up from the city center or take a taxi. Yes, we chose the taxi. In my defense, I was able to get the family to walk back down.
We went here first on Bill's recommendation. He said it would be most appealing to children. Even though we are on the road as a family, exploring foreign countries and wonders, we'd still hear, "But I don't want to go." And during the experience, they always had a good time. This was no exception.
We turned down the offers at the site for a personal guide. This is a fairly large site, so we decided to explore on our own. It's built like a fortress (but could have been a temple to worship the sun) with three levels. There are several theories, but no real proof on how these structures were built. The size of the limestone rocks, how they were brought from a quarry 3km or more away, carved, lifted and fit together perfectly with no mortar like a jigsaw puzzle is still baffling. They say the complex was 'finished' in 1508. It took from 20,000 to 30,000 laborers about 70 years to complete. However, others suggests the foundation was started much earlier earlier (pre Incas 900-1200AD) and just completed in 1508 since there are no real accounts of how the base stones were cut and placed.
The reason this is most appealing to children is because there are a few 'rock slides'. The rock sizes and natural formations are a marvel. The hills are called Rodadero, just opposite of Sacsayhuaman and are made of an igneous rock called diorite. They are smooth as if carved by a glacier and have stairs and benches carved into them. Of course, leave it to humans to turn it into a playground. I was just happy that this history lesson yielded a bit more fun for the kids. There was even a tunnel within the ruins. It was pitch black and the kids wouldn't continue unless I turned on my flashlight app. Ah, technology.
The Spaniards began destroying this site in the 1500s. They took many of the rocks to build a new city leaving only the largest behind since they were unmovable. No wonder since some boulders are 8 meters high and weigh over 200 tons.