In 1527 CE, Pizzaro arrived on the shores of the Incas. The Incas kindly welcomed him, supplying him and his troops from Spain with great food and a roof over their heads.
But unfortunately for the Incas, Pizzaro had other plans beside being friendly. He wanted gold and domination, glory for the kingdom of Spain. And the Spanish, even with their puny numbers against the Inca army, won staggering victories against the empire on their home turf.
Soon the Spanish became intimidating and therefore dominated the local population. The people of the Inca capital, Cusco, were afraid of the Spaniards’ might and power. Before they knew it, the Spanish were walking freely along the streets of Cusco. The Inca government was in disarray. A puppet king by the name of Manko was put into power, ruling the now weak Inca Empire.
In 1536 CE, Manko made a decision to end the nightmare he saw as the arrival of the Spanish. He sent messengers far and wide, calling for all the Inca warriors to surround the city of Cusco and converge on the Spanish. And soon the day came. Their forces were rallied, all the pieces were in place. And then Manko sounded the attack.
From the mountains around Cusco, Inca warriors descended upon the city, planning to wipe the Conquistadors from the face of the world.
The Inca may have had numbers, but the Spanish had the militaristic tactics to make one Spanish soldier count for 500 Inca warriors. The Spanish were standing at the top of the world, while the Inca sat uncomfortably below. The Conquistadors would not let the Incas turn their world upside down to have the natives at the top.
The Spanish held out in innocent buildings for quite some time. But then it was time for Pizzaro to make a smart and daring move. With only about 200 Conquistadors, most mounted, he broke through a weak point in the encirclement of warriors and swept around the back of the forces, coming down with his full fury from behind. High on a hill just outside of Cusco lay the great fortress of Saqsaywaman. Incredibly inpenetrable, its walls rose over 30 feet, strong Inca warriors standing confidently atop.
The Spanish took Saqsawaman, and used its walls, towers, and high vantage position to withstand the oncoming waves of Inca warriors. And that was it, the turning point for the end of Inca Empire.
And that is where I stood, on the once jaw dropping fortress of Saqsaywaman. Huge stones, carved and fit together perfectly, with no mortar even, so that no sword or blade of grass could fit through the boulders that formed the wall. I say once jaw dropping because the fortress’s walls are only about a third of the height they used to reach. Unbelievably, up until 1930 CE, any normal person could pay a small fee, take stones from the fortress, and use them in their building project. There are actually churches in Cusco that bear the stones of Saqsaywaman. No joke.
The astonishing structure was used less to actually defend Cusco (it was only used for that after the Spaniards arrived) and more to show to the rest of the Andes the power, security, and wealth of the Incas. And with the walls it would have once had, it could have struck fear and awe into any of the local people on the outskirts of the empire.
The fall of the Incas is a sad tale, one told by brutal Spanish Conquistadors who tortured and persecuted Native Americans. The fortress had it all. The glory, the intimidation, the power, the wealth, the loss, the grief, and the once jaw dropping domain that the Incas ruled over.
Below: Saqsaywaman Pictures
Below: Strange Shape of Inca Stones