Sacsayhuamán (aka Saqsaywaman) are walls near the old city of Cuzco. Some believe the walls were a form of fortification. While others believe it was only used to form the head of the Puma that Sacsayhuamán along with Cuzco form when seen from above. Like all Inca stonework there is still mystery surrounding how they were constructed.
Today, the annual Inca festival celebrating the winter solstice and new year, Inti Raymi, is held near Sacsyhuamán on June 24th.
Today, it’s the second largest festival in South America. Hundreds of thousands of people converge on Cuzco from other parts of the nation, South America and the world for a week long celebration marking the beginning of a new year, the Inti Raymi, the Festival of the Sun.
The centerpiece of the festival are the all-day celebrations on June 24, the actual day of Inti Raymi. On this day, the ceremonial events begin with an invocation by the Sapa Inca in the Qorikancha square in front of the Santo Domingo church, built over the ancient Temple of the Sun. Here, the Sapa Inca calls on the blessings from the sun. Following the oration, Sapa Inca is carried on a golden throne, a replica of the original which weighed about 60 kilos, in a procession to the ancient fortress of Sacsayhuamán, in the hills above Cuzco. With the Sapa Inca come the high priests, garbed in ceremonial robes, then officials of the court, nobles and others, all elaborately costumed according to their rank, with silver and gold ornaments.
A white llama is sacrificed (now in a very realistic stage act) and the high priest holds aloft the bloody heart in honor of Pachamama. This is done to ensure the fertility of the earth which in combination with light and warmth from the sun provides a bountiful crop. The priests read the blood stains to see the future for the Inca.
Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0