NAME: Q’enko (zig-zag)

ALTITUDE: 3 650 masl.



The original name of that site is lost and the current one seems to have been used since the XIX century. Qenko is a Quechua word that means “labyrinth”, “twisted” or “zigzag”. This must be one of the 365 adoratories that should have existed in the Qosqo Valley. Presides this site the “plaza” or open space that many call “amphitheater” that served in order to carry out different ceremonies in presence of their idols and mummies that occupied the 19 trapezoidal niches that are partially destroyed today. Those niches were high enough to let a person stand up inside, this is why it is suggested that they also served to keep the Wayke of noble people (wayke = brother); that is, human-shaped idols in natural sizes and made in precious metals that according to local belief contained the spirits of the represented persons. In front of the niches, there is an enormous Sacred Rock that because of its location must have had a special meaning; it has a base of well-carved stones in which two rows are missing. Scholars suggest that this rock was an impressive sculpture having the shape of one of the Inkan Gods; perhaps that of a feline or a snake. But, as it was a god for the Quechuas, it was totally broken and deformed when Spaniards performed the sadly famous “Idolatries Extirpation”; by which they destroyed everything opposing Christianity and having any relationship with Inkan Religion. Some audacious people do not hesitate to argue that this sculpture was a phallic symbol.


Towards the plaza’s northeast side, there are remains of one liturgical fountain that contained abundant and good water. Unfortunately, today it is dry and semi-demolished after that the water was channeled and taken to the Cusqueña’s brewery that boasts of producing beer “made with the Inkas’ water”.

On the top of the rock protrusion, there are many carved areas that surely served as bases for some other buildings that were demolished. There are many steps carved in the natural rock, remains of zoomorphic sculptures especially those of a bird and a quadruped. There is also a very interesting fountain consisting of a bowl on its upper side and a zigzagging small channel that is branched into two in its lower end. It is suggested that this device served in order to carry out divination rituals: in the upper cup they probably poured liquids that could be “Aqha” (maize beer), or perhaps blood of animals sacrificed inside the semi-underground chamber; the liquid flowed through the zigzagging channel and then followed through one of the two branches that must had different or opposing meanings (perhaps positive and negative). Thus, they could foretell diverse happenings; it seems that the present-day name of the monument comes from this zigzagging channel. Crowning the top of the limestone formation there are two carved cylindrical uprights over an ovoid pedestal. They are known as the Q’enqo’s Intiwatana, that it’s supposed was used as a solar observatory along with some other elements. The Intiwatana was used in order to measure the different variations of the sun, fix solstices and equinoxes, calculate seasons, etc., with the aim of facilitating farming activities. It is obvious that another of its duties was for worshipping the Sun God and maybe some other astral bodies. It is surprising that two transversal sides of those two uprights indicate exactly the magnetic north, what is easily proved with a compass; something similar is observed in Machupicchu, thence, it is probable that Quechuas also knew directions because many coinciding elements are found. Today it is also possible to read or listen to non-serious stories telling that originally those two uprights were used for performing sacrifices or also for checking the virginity of girls (according to this they were kept standing up over the carvings and forced to urinate, if they did it right into the small carved groove that is by the middle then it was because they were virgins, otherwise they were not). People very often create funny stories and theories that without any doubt are a product of their dreaming imagination.

In the lower part of the huge boulder, there is a narrow passage carved on its lateral surfaces following the natural rock fault. Even lower is the so-called sacrificial chamber that was also carved taking advantage of a small naturally formed cave. Inside the cave; towards the east is a trapezoidal niche surely used in order to keep elements and tools for performing sacrifices. Towards the west of the cave is an opening in the rock as a window facing the narrow passage, opened surely in order to have some more light inside the dark cave. In the cave’s central part there is a sacrificial stone altar where perhaps animal sacrifices must have been performed for divination or ceremonial purposes. Human sacrifices were seldom practiced in the Inkan Society, that is why for example, in the Inti Raymi, the most important ceremony in their festivity calendar just a llama was sacrificed.

Towards the southwest of this sanctuary is another one having a spheroid shape today known as Q’enqo Chico (Smaller Q’enqo). Both sites had apparently a very close relationship. Q’enqo Chico is surrounded by a “cellular” type wall that must have been higher; inside it, there are some stairways, aqueducts, niches and some other elements that had religious duties.