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Qenq'o: A Sacred Site in Cusco

Qenq’o is a pre-Spanish ceremonial center located 2 ½ miles north of Cusco – about a half-hour’s walk from the fortress of Sacsayhuaman. On a rainy afternoon, I had the chance to explore the large amphitheater, as well as the caves that were hollowed out of the boulder. Check out my video to see these!


Qenq'o is a huge limestone outcrop that has been carved into an

ornate monument of stairs, figurines, sundials, and zig-zagging channels. In fact, Qenq'o means “zig-zag” in the indigenous Quechua language. Archaeologists believe these channels may have been used during ceremonial rites, when chicha (Inca corn beer) or perhaps sacrificial blood was poured down to generate “camay” – or the power of moving liquid – in order to bring fertility to Inca crops.


(Above and below) Carvings cover the limestone outcrop at Qenq'o.

Another theory is that Qenq'o may actually be the site of Patallacta, the death house of Pachacuti – the 9th and greatest “Sapa Inca” – who was responsible for expanding the Inca chiefdom into the largest in all the Americas.


(Above and below) The precisely cut faces and edges at Qenq'o.

In any case, little seems to be known about Qenq'o. Like many pre-Spanish ruins in Peru, the truth has been lost or forgotten over the ages. It may actually be quite older than the Incas, perhaps carved by the Killke or another civilization.


(Above) Possibly a sacrificial altar.

(Above and below) Hanging out at Qenq'o with Cusco in the background.


(Above) The ubiquitous llamas of Peru (on the road to Qenq'o).

(Below) Just plain ol' creepy! (On the road to Qenq'o).


Originally published 01/24/2018 here. ©Beyond the Range All rights reserved. Feel free to republish so long as credit is given.

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