Inca Empire – Cusco
  Posted May 21st, 2009 by Zdenko  in Travel | 6 comments

Travel Peru

By: Diana Zlamalik

Diana traveled through Lima and this is her diary…
After Lima, next on our agenda was visit to Cusco. It was a short flight on a bright sunny day.

 During daytime or night time, Cusco is a city full of charms and attractions. The mornings are ideal to walk by the streets, to know the churches, to pass by the legendary artisan neighborhood San Blas or to visit the towns and the archaeological remains in the surroundings.

cusco1Our first impressions were that Cusco is a beautiful, very clean small town with many churches built during the Spanish invasion. Because of that, the Mauris style is very present everywhere. Just like in Lima, the main square is named Plaza des Armas.

At night, when the city is covered with lights, the discotheques, pubs and restaurants are the greatest attractions. Nightlife in Cusco offers a great variety of fun choices satisfying the most demanding tastes.

dsc_0231_2If you visit Cusco, it is compulsory to know the following places: the Koricancha (The Sun Temple), the Ajlla Wasi, the Churches and Convents, the Archaeological Remains, mainly Machu Picchu, Sacsayhuamán and Ollantaytambo.

dsc_0224_2Most of the small cloisters of Cusco still remain the Renaissancestyle of the second half of the XVI century. They are formed by brick arches of an exact semicircle that are lying over stone columns. In contrast to the convents in Lima with asymmetric and different arches in both floors, these arches have two times more little arches in the second floor than in the first one. The most important improvement in this field was the cloister of the Order of La Merced built up to 1663 in a complete baroque style and joined by two big affixed columns of rich woodcarving.


cusco2During the time of the Incas it was called Huacaypata or Square of the Warrior. It was the setting of various crucial events throughout the history of Cusco. Every year, people celebrated in this place the Inti Raymi or Sun Festivity; and this was also the place in where Francisco Pizarro proclaimed the conquest of Cusco. With the Spaniards arrival, the square was surrounded by stone arches that even today embellish it. (Centre of the city).

dsc_0422_2Cradle of legendary feats, the Main Square of Cusco was called “HuacaYpata” or “Square of the Warrior” during the time of the Incas. It reminds us of times when it was a significant ceremonial place where, every year, they carried out the spectacular celebration of Inti Raymi or “Sun Festivity”. It was the place where Francisco Pizarro, together with his Spanish entourage, proclaimed the conquest of Cusco, or the setting in where the Indigenous caudillo Tupac Amaru was executed.

cuzco__small_marketThe square was transformed with the Spaniards arrival. The stone arches, as well as the constructions that even today surround the square, were built during that period. It is surrounded by a beautiful arcade that was constructed during the conquest. In this place are also located the churches of the Cathedral and the Society of Jesus, which make up a real tourist temptation.


dsc_0333_2Located 2km from the city. Together with the city of Cusco, this monumental complex is considered the first of the new seven wonders of the world. This huge construction was planned and built by Andean Man. The Incas called it the House of the Sun and the Spaniards called it a fortress because of its zig-zag shape and the 1536 revolution. The construction, which is made up of three platforms one on top of the other, was one of the most important religious complexes of its time.  

The name means labyrinth or zigzag. Located 3km from Cusco, this temple dedicated to Mother Earth is a unique center of worship and for ceremonies. It has numerous ceremonial carvings, holes and canals cut into the rock. One of its features is a semi-natural underground chamber.

dscn3909_2The mixed-blood historian Garcilaso Vega described in his book “The Royal Commentaries” every detail of this sacred spot, its walls, rooms, towers, doors and canals, which have sparked great interest and admiration from visitors and residents alike. The enormous boulders that form part of the construction were put together perfectly without using mortar. The heaviest weighs up to 125 tons. Archaeologists are currently excavating and have discovered water fountains, canals and rooms. In a nearby flat area, every June 24 local inhabitants hold the Festival of the Sun, or Ind Raymi. Saqsaywaman witnessed important historic events.

saqsaywaman3This site is located north of the city of Cusco, at an altitude of about 3555 meters above sea level, between the districts of Cusco and San Sebastian, both of them within in the province and department of Cusco. The archeological park covers an area of 3094 Hectares and contains more than 200 archeological sites. Leading to Saqsaywaman there are two paved roads, one starts in the old and traditional neighborhood of San Cristobal and is about 1.5 kilometers long and the other road begins at Avenida Collasuyo and is 4 kilometers long.    

dsc_0356_2There are other footpaths, one that starts from a place called Sapantiana and which begins at the street Choquechaca is 1 kilometer long. The other footpath begins from the district of San Blas and leads to the temple of Kusilluyoq, through an old inca road that lead to Collasuyo. 

saqsaywaman9This colossal and monumental structure known today as Saqsaywaman, was known as the House of the Sun in the Inca era, and before the arrival of spaniards in 1535. What captures our attention today is the architectonic structure and the enormous weight of the stones (50 tons each). Most of the smaller stones were taken to build the Christian churches such as the Church of Santo Domingo (over the Temple of Koricancha). Many chroniclers like Garcilaso de la Vega , Murua, Bernabe Cobo, Pedro Pizarro, Sarmiento de Gamboa and Cieza de Leon said that Saqsaywaman was an enormous monument and they all wondered how it could have been built with the limited technology and tools of that time. Some of them, such as Garcilaso said that the fortress had to be built with help of devil spirits.

dsc_0344_2During the 19th century the fortress was visited by famous travelers like George Squier, Antonio Raymondi and Charles Winner. In 1934 some discoveries were made by Luis Valcarcel who was influenced by the chronicles of Garcilaso de la Vega . Valcarcel discovered the foundation of three rooms and towers in the southern part of the fortress.

dsc_0467During the 1970s, the Archeologist Luis A. Pardo discovered platforms in the areas called Rodadero o Suchuna whose work was sponsored by the Archeological Foundation. Between 1985 and 1986 the National Institute of Culture (INC) made some excavations in a flat area located near el Rodadero in which a great reservoir was found, used for ceremonies called Qapac Qocha, with springs and underground waterways as well as water control boxes, filters and carved rocks and other technological elements which demonstrated the great knowledge the Incas had about hydraulics. The INC is now making excavations in an area where more than 30 tombs were found that include clothes and utensils buried in the inca era.

Architectural DescriptionThe area of the fortress is made up of four sections called :
- The rampart section
- The tower section
- The Rodadero section
- Labyrinth section                   

The wall or rampart is the most impressive section, built with enormous carved limestone boulders, thisconstruction has a broken line that faces to the main plaza called Chuquipampa which is a slope with 25 angles and 60 walls.

The biggest carved boulder of the first wall weighs about 70 tons and like all of the other rocks was brought from a quarry called Sisicancha, three kilometers away and where there are still rocks that were transported part of the way. Each wall is made up of 10 fronts with the most important ones known as Rumipunco, tiupunku, Achuanpunku and Viracocha punku.

The towers are located on the hill of Saqsaywaman and form three different basic shapes, the most important one is called Muyucmarca, whose foundations were impressive and round and with three concentric circles with underground waterways. According to the chronicler Garcilaso, the tower was covered with golden plates and the towers were connected one to another with underground tunnels.

dsc_0504_2The other towers are Pucamarca and Sallaqmarca where new archeological discoveries have been made. The have found some bones and pottery that belonged to the period of construction approximately about 1430 and 1472 in the reign of Inca Pachacuteq. The other section called Rodadero is located opposite the hill of the fortress. This section is made up of diorite rock of igneous origin, where we can find waterways, carved rocks and what has been revealed to be the so-called throne of the Incas that is accessed by a series of delicately carved stairs. Behind this section we find small labyrinths, tunnels and vaulted niches in the walls.

dscn3918_2The Chincanas (labyrinths in rock) are wavy tunnels that took this shape due to the erosion made by underground water and were later modified by the incas. There are two Chincanas, the big one and the small one in which we can find carved rocks of different geometric shapes.



About Diana Zlamalik:
Diana (Dina) is my long time friend who was born in Zagreb (Croatia), the same city where I was born. Dina has Undergraduate and Masters Degree in Veterinary medicine from the University of Zagreb. She immigrated to Canada twenty years ago and now lives in Oakville (Ontario) with her family. Dina plays guitar and is very passionate about classical music. She is currently attending 5th class at Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.



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6 comments to “Inca Empire – Cusco”

  1. Comment by AndrewBoldman:

    Great post! Just wanted to let you know you have a new subscriber- me!

  2. Comment by sandra407:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

  3. Comment by Stacy Kusinski:

    Dude, please tell me that you’re going to write much more about Inka nation… I notice you haven’t traveled there yourself, but Dina did a great job for you. Your weblog has very interesting posts. You’ve got such understanding about traveling it would be a shame to see this weblog disappear. The world wide web needs you, man! Congratulations!

  4. Comment by Bill:

    Hi there, it’s my first time here and your writing is truly wonderful! Loved it… keep up posting these types of content (about travel)! I’ll be back…

  5. Comment by Alvarito:

    Hey, great photos! I just wanted to thank you because I’m doing a written work about Cuzco, and this images come in handy. Thanks!

  6. Comment by Travel In Peru:

    Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I have really loved browsing your blog posts.
    In any case I will be subscribing for your feed and I am hoping you write again soon!

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