The Quechua name Qenqo means labyrinth. In the worldview of Andean culture, this place was built to invoke Kaypacha, a legendary snake that gives rise to life. The Incas used this place as a bridge to communicate with other of their gods such as the Sun, the earth, the mountains, the moon and the stars. Everything in this place has a special mystique, the amphitheater, the labyrinths, the canals and the sacrificial room.
Qenqo Archaeological Complex
Although the true name of this shrine is unknown, at the time of the conquest, the Spaniards decided to name it Qenqo, a labyrinth in Quechua, perhaps because of the labyrinthine underground galleries, or the zigzag channels carved into the rock.
The Spaniards cataloged this enclosure as an amphitheater, apparently because of the semicircular construction found there. However, the true function of this cyclopean construction is ignored, since it could well be a ceremonial center, a court or a royal tomb, perhaps Pachacutec. According to scholars, it is possible that it was one of the most important sanctuaries of the Inca civilization, whose nature has not yet been deciphered; In the enclosure the predilection that the Incas had for the carved stone stands out very carefully.
4 km from the main square of Cusco, about 3,580 m.a.s.l. You can arrive in 5 minutes by a paved road northeast of the city of Cusco. There are two places: Qenqo Grande located at the foot of the path that goes from Sacsayhuamán to Písac; and Qenqo Chico, which is located on the hillside 350 meters west of the previous one. This enclosure is located on the current Socorro hill and has an area that exceeds 3,500 square meters.
It is a temple used during the incanato to celebrate public ceremonies, it is a semicircular enclosure of 55 m. in length, with 19 unfinished niches along the wall, some publications claim that the niches were arranged as seats for the entities they worshiped. However, recent research says that it is possible that the foundations of a great wall were.
Passing the free area you can see a large block of stone 6 m high, which rests on a rectangular pedestal. Possibly it is a huge zoomorphic sculpture. The inaccuracy is due to the destruction caused by the idolatry extruders (personnel who were responsible for removing icons of local worship) during the colony.
It has a rocky bulge with a carved passage, which leads to an underground room, rooms, a set of platforms, and a drainage system designed to evacuate water from the place.
In the back of the stone a small rock formation rises in which you can find a staircase, carved in the live rock, that leads to the summit. It is this place from a minor hole a small zigzag channel is born that descends and then forks in a two branches, one that follows the slope and another that descends to the underground chamber.
Perhaps it was poured chicha or blood of flames, offered in rituals not yet clarified. In the summit they are rest of carved of what could be a condor, whose head was removed; as well as that of a cougar. You can also see the remains of a room.
Intihuatana and Astronomical Observatory
Two small cylinders stand out on a polished rock. It is likely that it was an Intihuatana, translated – “place where the sun is tied”, this allowed to calculate the position of the sun. Its operation remains an enigma until today. It is supposed to be a kind of astronomical observatory, which was used to measure time and seasonal changes, determine solstices and equinoxes, and as a place of worship of the main deities, the Sun, the Moon, the earth and the stars.
Quechua name meaning “temple or place that has monkeys”. Located 500 meters east of Qenqo Grande. It houses a carved stone of almost 2 m. tall, whose shape resembles that of a toad. In this rock, some engravings of snakes and monkeys are still visible, possibly related to the name of the place.
The lithic work done in this place was undoubtedly a feat. The floors, walls, tables and niches, were carved very carefully in the living rock. Without a doubt, it was a place where secret ceremonies were held. It has service rooms nearby. It also has a drainage system for rainwater.
It is located very close to the Intihuatana. The student of the Inca culture Víctor Angles describes it as: “part of a small hole, it moves in an inclined plane and broken line, then forks, one of the branches led the liquid put into circulation to the Underground Chamber or Hall of the Sacrifices. “The liquid that flowed could be the blood of the sacrifices (animals and / or humans) to the gods.
The sacrificial room
The mystery kept by the ceremonies of the Andean cult is one of the attractions of the Inca Culture. The doubts of the so-called “Hall of Sacrifices” have not yet been resolved. It is an underground chamber completely carved into a gigantic rock. In the lower part of the rock structure, are carved, the floor, the walls, the ceiling, the tables and cupboards.
It is known that this chamber may have been used to embalm dried apricots, but human and animal sacrifices could also be carried out at the site.
Qenqo Chico, this place is much more destroyed than Qenqo Grande; It shows remains of high walls, circular planning and the same care in the carving of the rock.