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The shrines of Qenqo and Tambomachay

Two areas near Cuzco that feature some superlative religious architecture are the shrines of Qenqo and Tambomachay. Qenqo is a vast rocky hilltop carved into staircases, holes and channels, probably built to store the chicha (fermented maize beer) used in Inca rituals. The site features a semi-circular patio studded with several large niches surrounding a stone figure embedded within a chamber, rather like an idol inside its own shrine.

Tambomachay is another fine example of Inca architecture made up of platforms, niches and fountains which still function today, as water flows down through them from a spring higher up in the hills. In Inca times, this was a sacred site used for worship of the water deity, one of the shrines that made up the Cuzco ceque, the system of imaginary grid lines that irradiated out to sacred spots or indicated the time and place of the ceremonies.