Explore Cusco, the stronghold of the Incan Empire
Cusco (Cuzco, Quisque, Qosqo) is a town with a rich past. It was the capital of the mighty Incan Empire for 200 years, but archaeologists suggest that it was occupied as much as 3000 years ago.
The Inca alluded to their empire as Tawantinsuyu (in Quechua TawantinSuyu, Tawantinsuyu implies “four pieces together”) The empire was split into four suyus whose parts met at the capital, Cusco (Qosqo). They did not recognize any nations, they did not venture across the seas; their territory was the whole world, and Cusco was the core of this world.
This illustrates one of the variations of the term Cusco. It can be interpreted from Quechua as the “Centre of the World; the Navel of the Planet.” Another variant of the interpretation of the word is “The Location of Ashes,” that is, the location of ceremonial sacrifice. All the major temples of the Incas were in Cusco, and all the essential religious rituals were performed here.
What’s to see in Cusco?
There are several fascinating museums and tourist attractions in Cusco. Here is a selection of them:
1. Planetarium Cusco
The Cusco Planetarium is situated 3350 meters above sea level in the region of Cusco, taking the community closer to the heavens and gods. Stars performed a major role in the growth of all the great empires, and the Incan Empire was also one of them. ‘Planetarium’ is a business that provides night trips where you can watch the stars.
They’ll teach everyone about the Incan astronomy, the celestial objects that were most significant to them, and how the motion of the stars controlled the existence of the Incas.
2. Incan Museum (Inca Museum)
The Inca Museum, also recognized as the Archeological Museum of Cusco, includes objects that track Peruvian background from pre-Inca societies and Inca society to the effect of the Invasion and colonial periods on these native communities. The mansion was built at the top of the Inca dynasty at the beginning of the 17th century and used to be the residence of Admiral Francisco Aldrete Maldonado.
3. Sacsayhuaman (Saqsaywaman)
Sacsayhuaman is perched on a big slope high above Cusco and was among the districts of the city mostly during the period of the Incas. Some writers often claim that the complex was designed primarily to reflect the head of the puma, the effigy that Sacsayhuaman and Cusco shape as seen from above. There are various iterations of this district’s destination.
It has been called a stronghold for several years. However, the contemporary study believes that this was a suburban place for affluent lords and that it had rich homes, temples, and squares for religious ceremonies. This is one of the must-explore places in Cusco for sure.
While the Spanish destroyed the houses and used the stones to create the churches, the remains of the district are still spectacular! The walls of precisely formed stones are about 6 meters thick.
The approximate amount of stone is over 6,000 cubic meters. Researchers estimate the weight of the biggest limestone block range from 128 tons to almost 200 tons! It is believed that about 20,000 workers were employed in the building of the complex.
Tambomachay in Quechua means a resting spot. The name derives from the time of the Incan. This “water resort” for Inca was established at a distance of 5-6 km from Cusco. In the Incan era, this was a holy place used to honor the god of water, and it had beautiful canals, aqueducts, and fountains.
The amazing engineering skills helped the developers to interfere in the fall and break it into two equal waterfalls. It has also been shown that the same volume of water comes with each fall in a given period – if you place a container under each fall, it would be full at the very same time.
5. Koricancha Temple (Quoricancha)
The Extraordinary Temple of the Sun at Koricancha (Koricancha implies “courtyard of gold” in Quechua) was the most magnificent temple in the Incan Empire. Devoted to worshiping the sun, the most significant god in the Inca natural settings pantheon, the temple complex was a sparkling fortress.
In addition to the dozens of gold panels that lined its walls, there had been life-size gold statues, solid-gold altars, and a massive golden sun disk. The tombs of the Inca lords were housed here and used for religious rituals. After the Spanish raided the temple and stripped it of gold, the elegant polished stone walls have been used as the base of the Dominican Convent of Santo Domingo, but certain parts of the initial temple still exist.
6. Museum of Coca (Museo de la Coca)
This tiny, but insightful museum reveals a compelling account of the now notorious coca leaf. Your path starts with the pre-Inca societies of which the leaf was deemed sacred. Medicinal principles and advantages are fully described before turning to contemporary days and the drastic effects of the cocaine industry.
7. Kenko (Quench, Q’inqui)
Situated 6 km from Cusco in the direction of the Holy Valley, Qenko is a mysterious Incan temple built out of massive stone. Q’enko derives from the Quechua language which means “Labyrinth.” This title was given by the Spanish conquistadors because of its hidden galleries in the shape of a labyrinth. Kenko is constructed in the shape of an amphitheater and maybe a shrine or a tribune – the precise function of the site is uncertain.
8. The World of Chocolate in Cusco (Choco Museum)
Peru is a manufacturer and exporter of cocoa beans. In 2010, Peru received a coveted prize at the Salon du Chocolat in Paris for the most flavorful cocoa beans. In Cusco’s Chocolate Museum, you can hear about the chocolate manufacturing method and even try chocolates or hot chocolate bars. The museum organizes seminars where visitors can learn how to produce their own chocolate and give trips to cocoa plantations.