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Qenqo, discover the Inca Labyrinth in Cusco

Home / Travel Blog / Qenqo, discover the Inca Labyrinth in Cusco
Qenqo, discover the Inca Labyrinth in Cusco

Qenqo (3,580 meters above sea level) is one of the most important archaeological attractions in Cusco. It is located just 4 kilometers from the ‘Imperial City’ and a few meters from Sacsayhuamán, Tambomachay, Puca Pucara and other important Inca sites. This archaeological center must have enjoyed great importance due to the amazing remains that still stand despite the destruction caused by the Spanish in the place. It is believed that the Inca gods such as the sun, the moon, the mountains and the earth were worshiped there. Even today there are many mysteries that surround this place. Learn 8 interesting facts about this incredible place.

 

What does the word "Qenqo" mean?

Its name in Quechua means "labyrinth", it is probably due to the labyrinthine galleries under the ground or due to the zigzagging channels carved in the rock that are observed there.

 

In Spanish times, Qenqo was an amphitheater due to its semi-circular construction. But today, it is not known exactly the true function that this place had.

 

Where is Qenqo located?

The tourist attraction of Qenqo is located 4 kilometers from the city of Cusco, on the Socorro hill. A few meters away you will also find the ruins of Sacsayhuamán, Tambomachay, Puca Pucara, among other archaeological sites from the time of the Incas.

Qenqo is at 3,580 meters above sea level, here it is believed that they worshiped the Inca gods such as the sun, the moon, the mountain and the earth or pachamama.

 

Description of Qenqo

The archaeological center of Qenqo is composed of two main sites, the same site known properly as Qenqo and a second rock also carved known as Qenqo chico. The technique used for its construction is very impressive, since practically the entire structure was excavated in the calcium rock outcrops, which of course were complemented by other structures. The entire archaeological site is made up of the following areas:

 

Big Qenqo:

 

1.- The carved stone:

It is a huge rocky building that has a peculiar carving, with side stairs that lead to the summit.

 

2.- Intihuatana and astronomical observatory:

It is a polished rock where two small cylinders carved with great precision stand out. It is believed that the Intihuatana was a kind of astronomical observatory, which the amautas (the wise man in the time of the Incas) used to measure time, to establish the seasons, determine the solstices and equinoxes, and also, as a shrine where worshiped the Sun, the Moon, Venus and the stars.

 

3.- The amphitheater:

It is a temple used during the Inca Empire to carry out public ceremonies. At the top of the amphitheater there is a large stone block 6 meters high, which rests on a rectangular pedestal.

 

According to recent research, it is very likely that in fact the bases of a great wall, located in each of them, were the representation of an entity to which they worshiped.

 

4.- The underground chamber:

It is a lithic structure carved underground. Religious rituals were held there. It has service rooms in the immediate vicinity. It also has a drainage system for the rains.

 

5.- The sacrificial room:

Inside the underground chamber there is a ceremonial table where the embalming of the dead or, possibly, animal sacrifices with religious motives were possibly carried out. It is one of the most mysterious and popular structures in Qenqo.

 

6.- The Mortuary Room:

It is an underground chamber that could have been used to embalm dried apricots and it is also possible that human and animal sacrifices were made there.

 

7.- Cusilluchayoc:

It is located 500 meters east of Qenqo Grande and comprises a two meter high carved stone that would have the shape of a toad and reliefs of serpent and monkeys. Its name is a Quechua word that means "temple or place that has monkeys."

 

Little Qenqo:

It is the set of semi-destroyed buildings and platforms. Here you can distinguish the remains of high walls, a circular urban layout and several rock formations of inaccurate figures.

 

How to get to Qenqo?

To get to Qenqo you can choose several options:

  • Use public transport, you will arrive in 30 to 40 minutes.
  • If the climate of Cusco is of your preference and you managed to adapt to the altitude, you can also visit Qenqo by taking a walk of 45 minutes to 1 hour approximately.
  • And the last and most recommended option for tourism is, hiring a travel agency; here a specialized guide will explain more about the history of Qenqo.

Openning Hours:

It is open to the public between 7:00 a.m. and closes at 6:00 p.m. and works every day without exceptions.

 

Frequently asked questions about Qenqo

 

1. How do I get there on my own?

To get there on your own, you can take public transport at the ‘Rosaspata’ stop. The cost of the trip is only 1 Peruvian sol per person. You can also walk from the Plaza de Armas of the city. The most expensive option is to go by taxi.

 

2. What other archaeological sites in the city of Cusco to visit?

The city of Cusco is home to several Inca archaeological sites of great historical importance. Besides Qenqo, the tourist can visit: Sacsayhuaman, Coricancha, Pucapucara and Tambomachay.

 

3. What should I bring during the visit?

During your visit to Qenqo, do not forget to bring a rain poncho (as it can rain at any time) as well as a hat, sunscreen, comfortable clothing and good shoes. Of course, you must not forget to bring some snacks, rehydration water, extra cash and your identity documents.

 

4. Is it very cold in Qenqo?

Qenqo is high up where the cold and wind can be annoying. However, the archaeological site is open from 8 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon, where the temperature is tempered with rays of the sun. The average temperature reaches 13ºC.

 

5. Can I get altitude sickness?

Not only in Qenqo, but in all of Cusco, tourists can suffer some of the symptoms of altitude sickness, such as: nausea, fatigue and agitation when making physical effort. Remember that to reduce these symptoms it is advisable to drink plenty of water and avoid fatty foods. Likewise, altitude sickness disappears progressively, after 1 or 2 days of acclimatization.

 

6. How to go cheap?

The best way to go cheap to Qenqo is to buy the ‘Cusco Tourist Ticket’ and go with public transport to it and all the nearby tourist attractions included in this ticket.

 

7. When is the best time to go?

The dry season (from April to October) is the best time to visit Qenqo and the city of Cusco. On those days rains are unlikely, which makes the visit better. Keep in mind that the rainy season occurs from November to March.

 

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