12 angle stone
The Stone of the 12 Angles is one of the most photographed places by tourists who visit the city of Cusco. As its name indicates, this rock has twelve polished corners in such a way that they fit perfectly with the other stones of the Inca wall. It is on Hatun Rumiyoq Street, just a few steps from the Main Squre the Cusco. When you go, it will be easy for you to get there if you identify a man in Inca clothing known as ‘the Inca who protects the stone’. For many Cusco residents, the tourist who did not visit this place does not really know Cusco.
All about the 12 Angle Stone
What is it?
The Stone of the 12 Angles is a famous rock carved by the Incas as part of one of the walls of the palace of the Inca ruler Roca. It is carved in such a way that its twelve angles fit perfectly with the surrounding stones. Although there are other larger buildings with more corners (in Coricancha and Machu Picchu), this rock gained a lot of fame and popularity. Currently it is one of the most visited sites in the city of Cusco.
The Stone of the 12 Angles is located on Hatun Rumiyoq Street in the historic center of the city of Cusco. It is located within the perimeter of the Archbishop’s Palace and Museum of Religious Art of Cusco (former Inca Roca palace).
How to get?
To get to the Stone of the 12 angles, follow the Hatun Rumiyoq street located in one of the corners of the Main Square of Cusco. After about 5 minutes of walking you will reach this famous construction. Any visitor will notice by the presence of a man dressed as Inca called the ‘Inca who protects the stone’.
In Inca times, the 12-angle stone was polished as part of the palace of the sixth Inca ruler called ‘Inca Roca’ who reigned from approximately 1350 to 1380. This palace was the residence of the subsequent Inca rulers in the city of Cusco. In the time of the Inca Pachacutec, palaces and temples were built around the Haucaypata (current Main Square). This took away the prominence of this palace, one of the most beautiful in the empire.
After the conquest of the Spanish invaders in Cusco in 1533, the main temples and palaces were semi destroyed for the construction of churches and colonial palaces. Only the most solid walls that served as the basis for the colonial constructions remained standing. This happened with the palace of Inca Roca and the Stone of the 12 angles, on which the House of the Marquis of San Juan de Buena Vista and the Palace of the Marquises of Rocafuerte were built. Then this Inca and colonial building would pass to be the ‘Archbishop’s Palace of Cusco’ and the ‘Museum of Religious Art’.
Currently, the 12-angle stone has gained prominence for being a sample of excellent Inca architecture. This prominence has made some unscrupulous visitors want to take pieces of the rock or leave graffiti of their names there. Due to this, the stone has suffered some deterioration on its surface. The same people from Cusco protect this stone. Especially Mr. Uriel Tapara, the famous ‘Inca who protects the stone’. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city of Cusco.
Characteristics of the stone
The stone is made of diorite, probably brought from the Sacsayhuaman sector where this material was abundant. Like most important temples and palaces, it was carved in twelve angles following the perfectionist Inca style. The whole of the wall has a slight trapezoidal inclination to better resist earthquakes. Perhaps because of this, it still stands tall after more than 600 years.
The Inca who protects the stone
The Inca who protects the stone is one of the most famous characters in the tourist field of Cusco. It is about the Cusco citizen Uriel Tapara Mamani who personifies an Inca emperor. Every day (from 7 in the morning to 7 at night) the Inca stands in Hatun Rumiyoq Street to watch out that no one damages this famous rock. Of course, in exchange for a tip, some tourists ask to be photographed next to him and the famous stone. For many years now, this character has been part of the tourist landscape of Cusco.
Is the visit free?
The 12-angle stone is in the middle of Hatun Rumiyoq street, so it does not cost anything to go there and photograph it. As well as this wall, the city of Cusco has many Inca and colonial buildings, as part of its urban environment. That is why it is recognized as a ‘museum city’.
What to bring
- A photografic camera.
- Extra money in cash.
- Light clothing (if you go during the day).
- Warm clothes (if you go at night).
What time to go?
The stone is in the middle of Hatun Rumiyoq street, which is free of charge 24 hours a day.
Photos of the 12 Angle Stone
Despite the constant vigilance of Cusco citizens, the stone suffered an attack in 2014 when two Chilean citizens made a graffiti with their initials. Fortunately, professionals from the Decentralized Directorate of Culture of Cusco managed to erase them without damaging the surface. Violators were punished.
Keep in mind that photographs of the 12 Angle Stone are allowed. However, the same does not happen when visitors want to touch it. As a protection and conservation measure, visitors are asked not to touch the structure of the stone. If so, it can last for many generations to come.
Hatun Rumiyoq Street, where the stone is found, is a passageway packed with handicraft shops. This is pleasant for tourists who want to take a souvenir of Cusco for their country. However, it can also be frustrating for other visitors who just want to walk leisurely through the city. Be patient when some merchants insistently offer to buy some crafts.
Following Hatun Rumiyoq Street in a straight line, you will reach the San Blas slope. This street is famous for being a bohemian neighborhood where backpacker tourists of various nationalities are concentrated. This street leads to the main square of San Blas where you can visit the workshops of famous Cusco artisans as well as the local church, the oldest in the city of Cusco.