Święta Dolina Inków
In the Inca Empire Cusco was known as the „Centre of the World”. The city was located right in the middle of their country. Today, it is not only a starting point of many mountain-and-adventure excursions such as Salkantay Trek or Rainbow Mountain, but it also has a great historical significance. Nearby, you will find the Secred Valley where you can explore and learn a lot about the powerful country that perished from the face of the Earth.
The full-day trip
We decidaed on an all-day trip from Cusco, that took us to 5 amazing places for just 40 soles. It is well thought because the one-day ticket to 4 inca sites costs 70 soles and this excursion lets you make the most out of it. The disadvantage is, that it is a lot to see in one day and everything is a bit rushed. We did not have as much time at archological sites as we would like to. Nevertheless, it was an excellent day.
It is a catholic church build on the top of the ruins remained after the previous hegemon of the region. The temple is located on the mountain slope and nearby, you can see some historical terraces and wonderful andean landscapes. In addition, we joined a presentation where we could learn about the process of colouring the alpaca wool.
It was amazing to see how many colours they could obtain with just natural ingredients! For example, they used purple corn to dye wool violet or a pigment from smashed ants to dye red.
These terraces are very misterious. The scientists claim they were used just like the modern day greenhouses. Down at the bottom, the tempreture can be as much as 10 degrees higher than at the top terrace. This could have been used to adapt the jungle varieties of plants to the harsher mountain climate. Incas would grow the same plant each season at a higher terrace and in result they would get new varieties. It is incredible how much creativity they had and how hard they worked to improve their environment.
3. Maras Salt Ponds
These Salt Ponds have been constantly in use for at least 1000 years. Nowadays, the method is not much different than centuries ago. The terraces are used to accumulate the salt which is later harvested using simple hand-tools. During our visit we could see some of the workers slowly gathering the salt. The colours of different pools varry and they create a wonderful mosaic on the mountain slope. .
It was the largest complex of ruins that we visited that day. Far above the modern town, on the mountain top, there was a spectacular Inca city. The ruins are covering not only this mountain, but also other slopes around. You can see it beautifully once you make it up the stairs. In the main part of the ruins we saw the „Temple of the Sun”. It is constructed from the gigantic rock boulders that fit perfectly together. It must have been an astonishing effort for the old builders to transport such huge rocks to the top of the mountain and than work on them, so they look just like puzzles.
In the Inca Empire, people specialized in the type of job they were doing. Because of that, they were living in different areas and places. You can see it clearly in Pisac. There are wide, perfecly preserved terraces that were used to farm and nearby, you can find the place where the peasants lived. Further up the mountain, there was an actual city that was inhabitated by craftsman. Not far away, you can find the caves that were used as a burial place for mummiefied bodies. None of them were preserved as the conquistadors considered them a heresy and burned all the mummies on the central square of Cusco.
A day full of attractions
It was a very busy day. Not only we enjoyed the wonderful landscapes and historical ruins, but also learned a lot about the Inca Empire. Therefore, we felt fully prepared for the visit in the most famous Inca city – Machu Picchu.