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Sacsayhuamán picture in Cusco
Kelly Cheng Travel Photography / Getty Images

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  • Sightseeing Type
  • 2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.4
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Sacsayhuamán is often overshadowed by Machu Picchu, but this towering ancient Incan fortress – filled with exquisite stone masonry and dramatic vistas – is worth a visit. Much of the massive structure was used as building materials for the Spaniards, but what remains gives a glimpse at how large the fortress once was.

There’s much to see in these ruins, from the giant zigzagging stone walls (legend has it they formed the teeth of the puma-shaped Incan empire that is now Cusco) to the carved stone benches that form the suspected Incan throne.

During your visit, you'll also notice three foundations where colossal towers once stood. Also, take a few moments to walk around the Explanada, a parade platform where revelers still gather for the Raymi Festival of the Sun. Another interesting feature is Tambomachay, a nearby spring that served as a bathing site for the Incan elite.

Recent travelers remark that the ruins are not only an eye-catching spectacle and window to the past but also a pleasant place for a leisurely stroll with arresting views of Cusco.

You'll find Sacsayhuamán located approximately 2 miles northwest of Cusco's city center, less than a mile from Plaza de Armas. Travelers can take the steep walk or take a taxi to the site. There are two clearly marked entrances, but don't expect much direction once you start exploring the grounds. To hear the legend behind Sacsayhuamán's fascinating stonework, join one of the guided tours you'll find offered near the city center (make sure it's with a reputable tour operator: don't sign up for the tours offered on the street). 

You can explore Sacsayhuamán every day between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. and must have the Boleto Turístico for admission. This "tourist ticket" costs 130 soles (about $40) and provides admittance to 15 other Cusco attractions. 

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#1 Plaza de Armas The history of the Plaza de Armas stretches back all the way to the Inca Empire when it was called Huacaypata or Aucaypata. The massive square (originally twice its current ... Read more » mckaysavage / Flickr

#2 Machu Picchu It's hard to believe this iconic "lost city of the Incas" was untouched during the Spanish conquest. The Incas cleverly obscured these 12 acres of temples, aqueducts and gardens ... Read more » Michael Lawenko Dela Paz / Getty Images

#3 La Catedral Amid the many splendors found in the Plaza de Armas, the sky-high La Catedral is one of Cusco's finest architectural displays. Constructed in the 1550s with stones stolen ... Read more » Claude LeTein / Getty Images

#4 Sacsayhuaman Sacsayhuamán is often overshadowed by Machu Picchu, but this towering ancient Incan fortress – filled with exquisite stone masonry and dramatic vistas – is worth a visit. Much of the massive ... Read more » Kelly Cheng Travel Photography / Getty Images

#5 Qorikancha For a glimpse of the Inca's former grandeur, look no further than Qoricancha (Temple of the Sun), also known as "Court of Gold." In its heyday, Inca's ... Read more » DC_Colombia / Getty Images

#6 Planetarium Cusco Located next to Sacsayhuamán, the Cusco Planetarium offers travelers a unique experience in the hills surrounding the city. While it may not be much to look at (the small ... Read more » roman makhmutov / Getty Images

#7 Museo de Arte Precolombino While Qorikancha and Machu Picchu draw more visitors, the Museo de Arte Precolombino (Pre-Columbian Art Museum) possesses a world-class Peruvian collection that cannot be matched. This 12-room exhibition ... Read more » Museo Larco Lima – Perú

#8 Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Winding through Peru's verdant landscape toward Machu Picchu, this famous four-day hike is not for the faint of heart. That said, recent travelers say the laborious trek pays off ... Read more » R. Tyler Gross / Getty Images

#9 Museo Inka Located in a beautiful 16th-century colonial mansion that was once home to Spanish Admiral Francisco Alderete Maldonado, the Museo Inka (Inca Museum) boasts an eclectic assortment of Incan artifacts. Read more » Kelly Cheng Travel Photography / Getty Images

Plaza de Armas picture in Cusco
Machu Picchu picture in Cusco
La Catedral picture in Cusco
Sacsayhuamán picture in Cusco
Qoricancha picture in Cusco
Planetarium picture in Cusco
Museo de Arte Precolombino picture in Cusco
Inca Trail picture in Cusco
Inca Museum picture in Cusco
Plaza de Armas picture in Cusco
Machu Picchu picture in Cusco
La Catedral picture in Cusco
Sacsayhuamán picture in Cusco
Qoricancha picture in Cusco
Planetarium picture in Cusco
Museo de Arte Precolombino picture in Cusco
Inca Trail picture in Cusco
Inca Museum picture in Cusco

Eye-catching dancers in traditional Peruvian costumes fill the Plaza de Armas during colorful annual Andean fiestas. mckaysavage / Flickr

Michael Lawenko Dela Paz / Getty Images

This opulent cathedral showcases the clash of Andean and Spanish architecture. Claude LeTein / Getty Images

Sacsayhuamán was once a massive Incan fortress, before much of the structure was used as building materials for the Spanish conquistadors.  Kelly Cheng Travel Photography / Getty Images

Translated as Temple of the Sun, the walls of Qoricancha were once plated with gold.  DC_Colombia / Getty Images

roman makhmutov / Getty Images

The Museo de Arte Precolombino (Pre-Columbian Art Museum) features artifacts that date between 1250 B.C. and 1532 A.D.  Museo Larco Lima – Perú

The three-night, four-day hike along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is moderately difficult, but well worth it to many travelers.  R. Tyler Gross / Getty Images

Kelly Cheng Travel Photography / Getty Images

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