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.
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.
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.
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:
It is a huge rocky building that has a peculiar carving, with side stairs that lead to the summit.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
To get to Qenqo you can choose several options:
It is open to the public between 7:00 a.m. and closes at 6:00 p.m. and works every day without exceptions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.