On one weekend, I decided to join a fellow traveller from Germany to see the ruins of Saqsayhuaman (Satisfied Falcon in Quechua) and the smaller ruins called Qenqo, Pukapukara and Tambomacay. All of these sites are included in the general ticket (boleta turistico del Cusco) which cost 130 soles for foreign tourists and 70 soles for foreigners with an international student card. You can buy the ticket from any entrance and it is valid for 10 days. If you wish to buy only a partial ticket it is also possible but if you are planning to visit several places included in the ticket, I'd advise purchasing the general one.
Saqsayhuamán (often called sexy woman) is a huge fortress established by Killke culture before Inkas in 1100. It is located in the Northern skirts of Cusco on top of a hill next to the Cristo Blanco- Jesus statue in the elevation of 3700 meters. From the 13th century, it was expanded and occupied by Incas who made the famous stone walls that are still standing even today. These stone walls were so carefully built that no mortar was needed. Still nowadays it's impossible to slip even a piece of paper between the stones. The stones used in the lower levels are the biggest ones used in the whole prehispanic America. Because of the precise building skills Incas had, the site has survived from several earthquakes during its long history.
Since 1983 the city of Cusco and Saqsayhuamán has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main areas of the Saqsayhuaman are the big Plaza area and three huge terrace walls. The highest walls are around 6 meters tall and 400 meters long. However when Spaniards came in the 16th century and started to establish the Spanish Cusco they used stones from Saqsayhuaman, which caused a huge destruction to the fortress. Only the biggest stones were left there because they were too hard to move down to the city. Most of the main historical buildings in Cusco that are built by Spaniards have been built from Saqsayhuaman's stones.
The stones were shaped into a suitable size with a river cobbles and then dragged to the top of the hill by pulling ropes. Hundreds of men were needed to do so. The final shape and size of the stones were done at the site. The work distribution was supervised carefully by the Inca state's architects.
The time of Inca Empire, the capital city Cusco used to be built to a shape of a jaguar. Saqsayhuaman was called the teeth of a Jaguar because it was located on the northern side of the city. It is said that the location was chosen to be on the top of the mountain in order to be closer to the Sun. Various theories claim that Saqsayhuaman used to be more likely ''The House of Sun'' than a fortress. On top of the ruins, there is also a circle shaped area which is believed to be a solar calendar.
Inti Raymi, the feast of sun, originated from Inca Empire, nowadays celebrated as a festival of Cusco, is held each June near the Saqsayhuaman ruins. This year the celebration's main day is 24th of June.
A day will be enough for exploring Saqsayhuaman and the 3 other ruins nearby. You can either take the stairs to the entrance of the Saqsayhuaman which is located on a road called Don Bosco . It takes around 30-40 minutes on foot, depending on your level of fitness. If it's your first day in Cusco, I recommend taking a taxi there because the stairs are hard to climb in such a high altitude if you are not used to it quite yet. Just next to Saqsayhuaman is the Cristo Blanco statue which gives you an amazing view to Cusco. - There's also possibility taking the tourist bus first to the statue and then entering the ruins nearby.
The three other ruins nearby, Tambomachay, Pukapukara and Qenqo are worth visiting as well. They are a 5-minute taxi drive away from the Saqsayhuaman. We took a taxi and asked him to wait for us exploring each of them and then eventually bringing us back to the city.