The archaeological site of Qenqo was an important site during the Inca period. It is located near the city of Cusco, the ancient capital of the Tahuantinsuyo empire. Likewise, due to its proximity to the Sacsayhuaman fortress, it served as an amphitheater and a religious site. The most striking thing about its construction was its underground labyrinths, where religious ceremonies and even animal sacrifices would have been carried out. The visit to this place is included in the Cusco Tourist Ticket and in the so-called ‘City Tour’.
All about Qenqo
- What is Qenqo?
- What’s the meaning of your name?
- Where is? At what altitude is it located?
- Map to Get to Qenqo
- How to go there from Cusco?
- What is the archaeological site of Qenqo like?
- How much does it cost to go?
- What are the visiting hours?
- What should i bring?
- How’s the weather?
- Qenqo in pictures
- Interesting data
- Some tips for your visit
What is Qenqo?
Qenqo is an Inca archaeological site near the city of Cusco. It is divided into two: Qenqo Grande (located next to the road) and Chico (located on the side of Socorro mountain). The Incas would have performed religious ceremonies in this place. However, since it has a construction in the form of an amphitheater, it would also have served for social gatherings. Its underground labyrinth caves are famous, in which animal sacrifices were made for religious purposes.
What’s the meaning of your name?
The word Qenqo is the adaptation of the Quechua word (the language of the Incas) ‘Q’inqu’ which means ‘labyrinth’. This is due to its labyrinthine underground galleries.
Where is? At what altitude is it located?
Qenqo is only 2 kilometers by road from the center of the city of Cusco – Peru. It is 3,580 meters above sea level (11,745 feet).
Map to Get to Qenqo
How to go there from Cusco?
You can get to Qenqo by taking a taxi (cost of the trip approximately 10 Peruvian soles / 3 US dollars). You can also take a public transport service from the Rosaspata market. The buses of the lines ‘Cristo Blanco’ and ‘Señor de Huerto’ will leave you at the door of the archaeological site. The price of the trip is 1 Peruvian Nuevo Sol (0.3 US dollars). Of course, taking a taxi is faster and more comfortable.
The information regarding Qenqo is very inaccurate due to the few records on the place. It is believed that this site would have been a ‘huaca’ (shrine) of a culture before the Incas. However, when the Incas made the place their own, they adapted its structure to their convenience for the worship of their new gods: the sun, the moon, the stars.
Most of its structure was built with local stone, which was better able to withstand the looting and destruction caused by the Spanish in the 16th century. This did not happen in nearby temples such as Sacsayhuaman, which was destroyed up to 80% of its original structure.
After many years, Qenqo was studied by some Peruvian archeologists. Even in 1911 by the American explorer Hiram Bingham, the discoverer of Machu Picchu to the world. Despite this, part of its structures were looted by the so-called ‘extirpators of idolatries’. What little is known about the place is that it was an important religious point. Some skeletal remains were found nearby. Some hypotheses even suggest that there would be the tomb of Emperor Pachacutec, the most important ruler in Inca history.
What is the archaeological site of Qenqo like?
The sacrificial room – Structure carved in rock that, due to the presence of a table on two levels, would have served as an enclosure for animal sacrifices. This structure also has masterfully carved walls, niches and ceilings. This would indicate that it was a room for religious worship.
The amphitheater – The most visible structure in Qenqo is the amphitheater, which had a semicircular shape and reached an extension of up to 55 meters in length. On the sides there are walls with semi-built niches, which indicate the importance of the place. Also stands out on one side a stone block up to 6 meters high, carved in the form of a pedestal that would have served as a place of religious worship.
The Intihuatana – In Qenqo, as in many other citadels such as Machu Picchu, the Incas built these cylindrical structures on three levels, which served as an astronomical observatory to calculate the correct sowing and harvest date of the year.
The zigzag channels – A stone carved particularly in a zigzag shape through which a liquid could be poured, and this reached the sacrificial hall located at the bottom. According to research, the Incas used it to shed animal blood and thus perform religious ceremonies.
During the invasion of the Spanish in Cusco during the 16th century, a large part of the Inca temples were looted and destroyed. In Cusco Sacsayhuaman and Coricancha, two of the most important precincts in the entire empire, suffered great damage. Qenqo, on the other hand, due to its highly resistant stones, remains in good condition.
How much does it cost to go?
Most tourists visit Qenqo through the half-day ‘City Tour Cusco’ that also includes a visit to the Cathedral of Cusco, the archaeological site of Coricancha, Sacsayhuaman, Pucapucara and Tambomachay. The service offers complete transportation, tour guide and entrance to all places. The approximate cost of the service is 70 US dollars per person.
Another way to go is on your own. To do this, you must purchase the ‘Cusco Tourist Ticket’, which in addition to Qenqo, includes entry to the archaeological sites of Sacsayhuaman, Pucapucara and Tambomachay. The cost of this ticket is 70 Peruvian soles (approximately 22 US dollars). They must also get transportation to the place (taxi or public service bus). At the entrance door, you can optionally get a tour guide.
What are the visiting hours?
The archaeological site of Qenqo is open to the public every day of the year, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
What should i bring?
When you go to Qenqo, do not forget to take with you:
- Comfortable walking shoes.
- Raincoat for the rain.
- Cap or hat.
- Passport or identity document.
- Extra cash (in case you want to buy a craft).
How’s the weather?
Qenqo has a temperate and cold climate, especially at night. The heat during the day can reach 22ºC. (71.6ºF).During the nights the cold can drop to 1ºC. (33.8ºF). January, February and March are the months with the most possibility of rain. May, June, July and August are the least rainy months.
Qenqo in pictures
In Qenqo there are underground galleries. The Incas used to build these ‘chincanas’ or formations under the ground, since they considered that these communicated them with the ‘Uku Pacha’, or world of the dead. These same structures exist in other important enclosures such as Sacsayhuaman or Machu Picchu.
In Qenqo there is also a structure called ‘Cusillachayoc’, which is a Quechua word that means ‘Temple of the monkeys’. This construction is deteriorated but the reliefs in the form of snakes and monkeys still stand out. It is also possible to see remains of water conduits and other inaccurate structures.
Some tips for your visit
If you want to visit Qenqo on your own, definitely the best option is to buy the ‘Cusco Tourist Ticket’, which also includes a visit to Sacsayhuaman, Pucapucara and Tambomachay. You can buy this ticket at the offices located on Avenida El Sol 185.
If you want to save a little money during your visit to Qenqo, the best option is to take public transport. These depart from the whereabouts of ‘Rosaspata’, located 15 minutes from the Plaza de Armas of the city. The trip to Qenqo takes about 15 minutes. The cost of the journey is 1 nuevo sol (0.3 US dollars).
If you visit Qenqo, you should definitely also visit the Sacsayhuaman fortress, located within walking distance. You could also take the opportunity to get to know Pucapucara and Tambomachay. If you continue the road trip for about 40 more minutes, you will reach the town of Pisac, in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.