Holy Water, Corn Beer, or Blood? The Mystery that Surrounds the Qenqo Temple

Holy Water, Corn Beer, or Blood? The Mystery that Surrounds the Qenqo Temple
June 19, 2013 Lainie Liberti


If you are planning on visiting the historical sites around the Cusco Region in Peru, one thing is for sure — if you let yourself, you can lost in the mystery. Qenqo tempts you with the undefined, seducing you through the mysterious formations and architecture that abound in the vast ruins of  past civilization.s  Some will tell you Qenqo was built by the Incas others will tell you they built upon a much earlier site. Either way, the natural formations, carved structures and caves will tempt your imagination.


Just 15 minutes outside of Cusco lies one of the largest holy places in the region — the Qenqo Temple. Though not its original name, Qenqo, in Quechua, means labyrinth or zigzag, named by European conquerors who based it on the canal that runs through the main structure, which is that of a gigantic monolith.

The entire site can be found stretched across a hillside of what is known today as Socorro hill and its area covers an entire 3,500 square meters.

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As with most of the ruins in the Inca Empire, the purpose of the Qenqo temple is unknown but one common theory stands — it is believed to a be a holy place where death rituals took place. It is also clear that the canals were used to carry liquid that could have been corn beer, holy water, or even human or animal blood. The liquid may have been used for sacrifices or as a process in death rituals or as a way for religious leaders to determine whether the dead lived a good life by the direction the liquid flowed. The canal then leads to an underground chamber, that is aptly called the Chamber of Sacrifices. The underground space is believed to be a place where noblemen were embalmed and mummified in preparation for the afterlife..



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Another chamber, which is thought to be an amphitheater is formed in a semicircular shape that is 55 meters long, containing 19 niches along the wall. It is believed to be a seating area for ceremonies and rituals but recent theories suggest that it was once part of a base of a large wall where statues were placed for worshiping. But again, this only a hypothesis.

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Another structure, which is located before the open area, stands a ruined standing statue of some sort. A block of stone that stands 6 feet tall rests on a rectangular pedestal and could’ve been destroyed by conquerors who wanted to eradicate idol worship in the region.


There are many strange formations around the site, some natural, others made by ancient architects.


Most of the magnificent structures and history of the Inca Empire were lost when the Spaniards came and destroyed much of the ancient city during the colonial period of the 16th century. The Qenqo Temple is one of those sites whose purpose we will probably never know for sure. But one thing that many historians agree on is that the Qenqo Temple is a place that is heavily hinged with the ancient civilization’s respect and honor for rituals, even with death.


Most visitors stay within the well defined zone of Qenqo. But just a stroll down the hill towards the eucalyptus forrest, you’ll find another set of formations. Those formations are encircled by a brick wall, obviously built in different period  The larger or megalithic stones were likely the original build and the Incas or another civilization repaired the wall using local fieldstone.

The field itself has scattered stones withe steps formations and ancient puzzle pieces. The porous surface of the stones in this section all appear as they’ve endured some sort of water damage.


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What do you think?


  1. Vanessa 11 years ago

    That’s awesome that you guys just got to walk freely in and out of the stones and passageways! It’s crazy to think what kinds of emotions must have been thick in that place when it was in use. Between holy water, beer, and blood, there’s got to be so many happy or terrified feelings!

    • Author
      Lainie Liberti 11 years ago

      I feel so energy at all of the sites here and around Cusco. It’s powerful. The unknown keeps me searching for more clues beyond the Inca’s time. There’s more to the story than is being told.

  2. Orana 9 years ago

    I LOVE this place. What a nice surprise to find it on your blog. I used to go up there for picnics all the time.

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