This and the next post is about when and how Sacsayhuaman was built.

I have found up to three hypothesis about when this site was built.


1. XV Century:

The most “popular” is told by the 16th century chroniclers. On the whole, most of them claim Sacsayhuaman was built in Inca times.

Garcilaso de la Vega says Sacsayhuaman was built by Inka Yupanki around 1400 AD.

Juan de Betanzos has the same opinion. In his book “Suma y Narración de los Incas“, he mentions Topa Ynga Yupangue as well as the name of the mountain where the site was and the quarry where the rocks were carried from.

“…salió Topa Ynga Yupangue…y parescióle que era bien que se edificase en un cerro que se dice Xacxahuaman Urco y luego por él fue hecha la traza…”

“…mandó el Ynga que acarreasen los cimientos della y acarreasen de todas las canteras de Oma y Salu y de Guairanga pueblos entorno desta ciudad el más lejano a cinco leguas…”

Even though he says the site was completed in six years, he does not mention when it was started.

Six years seem to be a short time for a site like Sacsayhuaman to be completed. Some scholars claim Sacsayhuaman was not completed when Spanish arrived here.

This could be true because Pedro Cieza de Leon says “this fortress had been begun in the days of Pachacuti; his son Topa Inca and Huayna Capac and Huascar added greatly to it”.

2. Before XV Century:

On the other hand, I have found a couple of chroniclers who claim the construction of Sacsayhuaman began as soon as Cusco was founded.

In his book “Relación para Su Majestad de lo Sucedido en la Conquista“, Sancho de la Hoz mentions an “orejón” or Inca who founded this city with its fortress:

“…cuando se fundó la ciudad que fue edificada por un señor orejón que vino de la parte de Condisuyo hacia el mar, conquistó esta tierra hasta Bilcas, y visto ser éste el mejor lugar para fijar su domicilio, fundó aquella ciudad con su fortaleza”.

“Orejón” or Big Ear was the nickname of the Incas given by Spanish because Inca royal men used to wear earrings so they had big lobes.


Miguel de Estete states in his book “Relación de la Conquista del Perú” that Gualnava founded this city and built the fortress:

“El primero que decían los indios que sujetó la tierra así…fue uno llamado Gualnava; éste fundó la ciudad del Cuzco; digo, la reedificó e hizo aquella fortaleza, de donde sojuzgó mucha parte de la tierra”.

This may have something to do with archaeological discoveries. Archaeologists have found evidence in Sacsayhuaman of the Killki culture who settled here around 1200 AD. Others say they were here between 700 to 800 AD.

3. Ancient Times:

The third version has to do with legend. People in the indigenous community of Q´espewara as well as other quechua towns to the west of Sacsayhuaman believe the site was built in ancient times.

They claim the site was built by gods and giant men or “gentiles” called Wiracocha Inkas who had supernatural powers and ruled nature, animals and human beings.

These “gentiles” had the rocks walked as they touched them with their whips.

Talking about indigenous communities around Sacsayhuaman, they have an interesting approach to the shape of this site. They claim the zigzag shape of the so-called fortress represents the thunder and this may have something to do with water.

And there is historical evidence to prove this.

Bernabé Cobo claims that local people in Inca times thought water came from thunder:

“…del agua que cae del cielo tuvieron por opinión común que lo era del trueno, y que él tenía a su cargo el proveer de ella cuando le parecía”.
He also adds that Incas worshipped not only thunder but also lightning, rainbow, and rain.

In 1613, the local chronicler Juan Santa Cruz Pachacuti draw in his book “Relación de Antiguedades de este Reino del Perú” the thunder God or Illapa or Choq´e Illa with the form of a zigzag.

According to this, some scholars claim that Sacsayhuaman was called Intip-Illapan Wasin in Inca times. This means The House of the Sun and the Thunder.

Intriguing, isn´t it?

Next post will be about how the Incas built this impressive site.


Related Posts:

Sacsayhuaman how it was built

Sacsayhuaman a wonder of the Incas

Findings in Sacsayhuaman