Posted by: Ali | March 17, 2010


I love the Quechua language.  Not that I know anything about it.  I just know that it didn’t have a written form until the Spaniards arrived, so the spelling of pretty much every Quechua word has many versions.  Sacsayhuaman, pronounced something like “sexy woman,” is certainly no exception.  I have seen Saqsawaman, or even Sacsayuma.

The best part is, no one even knows exactly what the name means.  Sacsay means “satisfied” and huaman means “falcon,” so one translation is “satisfied falcon”.  Alternatively, sacsa means “speckled”, and uma means “head”, so maybe it means “speckled head”.  Other people have translated the name to be speckled falcon, or even royal eagle.

Regardless of the spelling or the meaning, Sacsayhuaman is a huge, impressive fortress that guards the city of Cusco itself.  It was there that the Incas almost defeated the Spaniards, which would have changed the course of history.  Of course, they didn’t, and after the city was taken, Sacsayhuaman was used pretty much as a stone quarry by the Spaniards, so most of the buildings that once stood are gone.  The only things that remain are the enormous blocks too large for the Spanish to move, because, well, they’re enormous.

Unfortunately, we went to see Sacsayhuaman with a guide who wasn’t terribly good, and as a result I feel like I missed seeing most of it.  Maybe I will have to go back.  Every June they have a huge festival the day after the winter solstice to welcome the sun back, it’s called Inti Raymi.  Hopefully I’ll be able to attend this year!

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