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Day 25 - Cuzco - City Tour and Ruins

semi-overcast 18 °C

Finally chance for a lie-in!

As our tour didn't start until the afternoon we had a leisurely start, walking up to a local supermarket to get some cake, and then did a loop through the town for an hour or so.

We were picked up for the tour by mini-bus after lunch.

The first stop was the Plaza de Armas and the Cathedral (Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption). They started building it in 1559 and didn't finish until 1654. Many of the stones were taken from Sacsayhuaman, a holy Inca defensive structure that we were going to visit later in the day.

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Next we visited Koricancha (Inca Temple of the Sun or golden enclosure) and the Santo Domingo Convent which was built on the foundations of the temple. Once again the stones had been polished smooth and fitted together perfectly without mortar.

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We left the convent and walked through some narrow streets towards the wider roads so our coach could pick us up. Unfortunately the driver decided to stop where the policeman told him not too and a screaming match ensued. The policeman wanted him to pay a fine equivalent of about £1800 for stopping for 2 minutes to load 16 people on the coach. It took nearly an hour before we continued the tour - at one point we thought we were being taken to the Police station!

We visited the Inca ruins at Sacsayhuaman, Q'enko and Tambomachay.

The main ramparts of Sacsayhuaman (speckled falcon or speckled head) were built with massive blocks, the largest being 8.5m high and weighing nearly 300 tons. Some of the rocks were quarried on site and others were brought from over 35km away. 20,000 men were involved in the construction, 4,000 men cutting blocks from the quarries; 6,000 dragging them on rollers to the site; and another 10,000 working on finishing and fitting them into position using stone hammers and bronze chisels.

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Q´enko is a large limestone rock with complex patterns of steps, seats, geometric shapes and a puma design. Inside the rock are large niches and what is believed to be an altar.

Tambo Machay is a ceremonial stone bath for ritual bathing. It's a short walk uphill which we take very slowly due to the altitude. A Peruvian lady was sitting on the side of the path spinning llama wool. The ruins consist of 3 tiered platforms. The top platform has four niches that were probably used as seats. On the next level an underground spring emerges directly from a hole and cascades down to the bottom platform, creating a cold shower that was just high enough for an Inca to stand under.

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On the way back to the hotel we visited a local cooperative where they taught us how to distinguish between real llama wool and mixes (llama wool is very cold to touch)

We got dropped off near the main square and our guide and driver shot off before we realised we didn't know the way back to the hotel. Luckily Rob had down-loaded a local map on his phone and we managed to find our way back.

We decided to eat in a local restaurant - it did serve guinea pig (which they serve whole with the skin on) but I stuck with chicken and Rob had a llama burger. We sampled a few pisco sours to compare them with those from Chile and to aid with sleep.

Posted by JenBuckley 10:19 Archived in Peru

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