April 28, 2018 – Arequipa to Cusco, Peru
We had another early start this morning. We left the hotel at 7 and arrived at the airport about 7:30. We got checked in and waited for our flight to board. It was an uneventful flight, but I must say it’s the 1st flight I’ve been on in a long time where there were empty seats.
When we arrived in Cusco, a driver met us with a small minibus to take us to the hotel. This was another case where we weren’t too sure about our hotel when we got off the bus. It was not a particularly nice area, but we walked about 2 blocks to the hotel, and it is really nice. The street was too narrow for the bus to get up. The bellboys from the hotel came and got our luggage.
Since our rooms were not ready, we started out on a walking tour. We saw the Temple of the Sun God and several other churches. There was a big festival going on in the main square. There were hundreds of 1st Nation people dressed in their costumes getting ready to make a pilgrimage to a sacred mountain about 5 hours drive from here. There, they will camp tonight and then trek up the mountain during the day tomorrow so that they will be at the summit (about a 7 hour hike) when it gets dark and the Pleiades reappear in the southern hemisphere. We stood for an hour or so watching the celebration.
Near the Temple of the Sun God, Cheo talked about the construction of Inca walls, buildings, etc. These items are centuries old and have been through multiple earthquake, yet many of them still stand. It is not known when or how the Incas realized that walls built straight up and down would collapse in earthquakes. It is not known how they discovered that a 13 degree angle was the one which would make the walls and buildings withstand earthquakes. It is just known that that is the way they built things. Today, architects know it too.
We had lunch at a really nice place. We received a sample of a different kind of corn beer. This one was yellow. I still didn’t like it, but Coleen has developed a taste for it so she drank almost everyone else’s. We also had a small bowl of chicken and rice soup which was excellent. I had deboned chicken thighs over rice with some kind of Peruvian sauce on it which was really good. This restaurant really went all out on presentation so that not only did the food taste good, but it looked good as well.
After lunch we went to an alpaca factory where we learned how to tell the difference between the real thing and the knockoffs. Alpaca feels cool to the touch. Imitation alpaca feels warm to the touch. I bought a sweater for myself and some Christmas gifts as well as a couple of things for the Lord’s Acre Day sale.
We stopped at the G Adventures offices to pick up some duffel bags. We are coming back to this hotel on the 30th so we are going to lighten our load by leaving everything here except what we will need for the next two days. The G Adventures duffel bags will hold all that we need for 2 days and then some.
On the way back to the hotel we saw a place to buy chocolate. I was too tired to even think about it so I just kept on walking. We got back to the hotel about 4:45. I just sat and relaxed for a while before repacking for the next 2 days. I’m too tired to go out to eat, and besides, I’m not hungry. I had a large lunch. I’m going to make an early night of it because we have to be ready to leave at 7 in the morning.
So far, the altitude has not bothered me other than being short of breath – especially when walking uphill. I am using the coca tea and leafs so, hopefully, I’ll be okay. Where we are going tomorrow is even higher than Cusco so I hope that my luck continues to hold.
Cusco, often spelled Cuzco, is a city in southeastern Peru, near the Urubamba Valley of the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cusco Region as well as the Cusco Province. In 2013, the city had a population of 435,114. Located on the eastern end of the Knot of Cuzco, its elevation is around 11,200’.
The site was the historic capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th century until the 16th-century Spanish conquest. In 1983 Cusco was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It has become a major tourist destination, hosting nearly 2 million visitors a year. The Constitution of Peru designates it as the Historical Capital of Peru.
The indigenous name of this city is Qusqu. Although the name was used in Quechua, its origin is found in the Aymara language. The word is derived from the phrase qusqu wanka ('Rock of the owl') related to the city's foundation myth of the Ayar Siblings. According to this legend, Ayar Awqa (Ayar Auca) acquired wings and flew to the site of the future city; there he was transformed into a rock to mark the possession of the land by his ayllu ("lineage"):
“Then Ayar Oche stood up, displayed a pair of large wings, and said he should be the one to stay at Guanacaure as an idol in order to speak with their father the Sun. Then they went up on top of the hill. Now at the site where he was to remain as an idol, Ayar Oche raised up in flight toward the heavens so high that they could not see him. He returned and told Ayar Manco that from then on he was to be named Manco Capac. Ayar Oche came from where the Sun was and the Sun had ordered that Ayar Manco take that name and go to the town that they had seen. After this had been stated by the idol, Ayar Oche turned into a stone, just as he was, with his wings. Later Manco Capac went down with Ayar Auca to their settlement...he liked the place now occupied in this city Cuzco. Manco Capac and his companion, with the help of the four women, made a house. Having done this, Manco Capac and his companion, with the four women, planted some land with maize. It is said that they took the maize from the cave, which this lord Manco Capac named Pacaritambo, which means those of origin because...they came out of that cave.
The Spanish conquistadors adopted the local name, transliterating it into Spanish phonetics as Cuzco or, less often, Cozco. Cuzco was the standard spelling on official documents and chronicles in colonial times though Cusco was also used. Cuzco, pronounced as in 16th-century Spanish, seems to have been a close approximation to the Cusco Quechua pronunciation of the name at the time. As both Spanish and Quechuan pronunciation have evolved since then, the Spanish pronunciation of 'z' is no longer close to the Quechuan pronunciation of the consonant represented by 'z' in "Cuzco". In 1976, the city mayor signed an ordinance banning the traditional spelling and ordering the use of a new one, Cusco, in municipality publications. Nineteen years later, on 23 June 1990, the local authorities formalized a new spelling related more closely to Quechan: Qosqo.
There is no international, official spelling of the city's name. In English language publications both "s" and "z" can be found. However, the Oxford Dictionary of English recognizes "Cuzco" but not "Cusco"; the Merriam-Webster Dictionary has "Cuzco", with "Cusco" only as a "variant", and in scholarly writings "Cuzco" is employed more often than "Cusco". The city's international airport code is still CUZ, reflecting the earlier Spanish spelling.
The Killke people occupied the region from 900 to 1200, prior to the arrival of the Inca in the 13th century. Carbon-14 dating of Saksaywaman, the walled complex outside Cusco, established that Killke constructed the fortress about 1100. The Inca later expanded and occupied the complex in the 13th century. On 13 March 2008, archaeologists discovered the ruins of an ancient temple, roadway and aqueduct system at Saksaywaman. The temple covers some 2,700 square feet and contains 11 rooms thought to have held idols and mummies, establishing its religious purpose. Together with the results of excavations in 2007, when another temple was found at the edge of the fortress, this indicates a longtime religious as well as military use of the facility.
Cusco was long an important center of indigenous people. It was the capital of the Inca Empire (13th century-1532). Many believe that the city was planned as an effigy in the shape of a puma, a sacred animal. How Cusco was specifically built, or how its large stones were quarried and transported to the site remain undetermined. Under the Inca, the city had two sectors: the urin and hanan. Each was divided to encompass two of the four provinces, Chinchasuyu (NW), Antisuyu (NE), Kuntisuyu (SW) and Qullasuyu (SE). A road led from each quarter to the corresponding quarter of the empire.
Each local leader was required to build a house in the city and live part of the year in Cusco. He was restricted to the quarter that corresponded to the quarter in which he held territory. After the rule of Pachacuti, when an Inca died, his title went to one son and his property was given to a corporation controlled by his other relatives (split inheritance). Each title holder had to build a new house and add new lands to the empire, in order to own land for his family to keep after his death.
According to Inca legend, the city was rebuilt by Sapa Inca Pachacuti, the man who transformed the Kingdom of Cuzco from a sleepy city-state into the vast empire of Tawantinsuyu. Archaeological evidence, however, points to a slower, more organic growth of the city beginning before Pachacuti. The city was constructed according to a definite plan in which two rivers were channeled around the city. Archaeologists have suggested that this city plan was replicated at other sites.
The city fell to the sphere of Huascar during the Inca Civil War after the death of Huavna Capac in 1527. It was captured by the generals of Atahualpa in April 1532 in the Battle of Quipaipan. Nineteen months later, Spanish explorers invaded the city and gained control because of their arms and horses, employing superior military technology.
The first three Spaniards arrived in the city in May 1533, after the Battle of Cajamarca, collecting for Atahualpa’s Ransom Room. On 15 November 1533 Francisco Pizarro officially arrived in Cusco. "The capital of the Incas...astonished the Spaniards by the beauty of its edifices, the length and regularity of its streets." The great square was surrounded by several palaces since "each sovereign built a new palace for himself." "The delicacy of the stone work excelled" that of the Spaniards'. The fortress had three parapets and was composed of "heavy masses of rock." "Through the heart of the capital ran a river...faced with stone." "The most sumptuous edifice in Cuzco...was undoubtedly the great temple dedicated to the Sun...studded with gold plates...surrounded by convents and dormitories for the priests." "The palaces were numerous and the troops lost no time in plundering them of their contents, as well as despoiling the religious edifices," including the royal mummies in the Coricancha. Pizarro ceremoniously gave Manco Inca the Incan fringe as the new Peruvian leader. Pizarro encouraged some of his men to stay and settle in the city, giving out repartimientos to do so. Alcaldes were established and regidores on 24 March 1534 which included his brothers Gonzalo Pizarro and Juan Pizarro. Pizarro left a garrison of 90 men and then departed for Jauia with Manco Inca. Pizarro renamed it the "Very noble and great city of Cuzco". Buildings constructed after the Spanish invasion have a mixture of Spanish influence with Inca indigenous architecture including the Santa Clara and San Blas neighborhoods. The Spanish destroyed many Inca buildings, temples and palaces. They used the remaining walls as bases for the construction of a new city.
Father Vicente de Valberde became the Bishop of Cusco and built his cathedral facing the plaza. He placed a St. Dominic monastery on the ruins of the House of the Sun and a nunnery where the House of the Virgins of the Sun was stood.
The city was retaken from the Spanish during the Siege of Cuzco of 1536 by Manco Inca Yupanqui, a leader of the Sapa Inca. Although the siege lasted 10 months, it was ultimately unsuccessful. Manco's forces were able to reclaim the city for only a few days. He eventually retreated to Vilcabamba, the capital of the newly established small Neo-Inca State which lasted for another 36 years but he was never able to return to Cuzco. Throughout the conflict and years of the Spanish colonization of the Americas, many Incas died of smallpox.
Cusco stands on layers of cultures, with the Tawantinsuyu (old Inca Empire) built on Killke structures and the Spanish replacing indigenous temples with Catholic churches and palaces with mansions for the invaders.
Cusco was the center for the Spanish colonization and spread of Christianity in the Andean world. It became very prosperous thanks to agriculture, cattle raising and mining, as well as its trade with Spain. The Spanish colonists constructed many churches and convents, as well as a cathedral, university and Archbishopric.
After Peru declared its independence in 1821, Cusco maintained its importance within Peru's administrative structure. Upon independence, the government created the Department of Cuzco which maintains authority over territory extending to the Brazilian border. Cusco was made capital of the department, and subsequently it became the most important city in the south-eastern Andean region.
In 1911, explorer Hiram Bingham used the city as a base for the expedition in which he rediscovered the ruins of Machu Picchu.
A major earthquake on 21 May 1950 caused the destruction of more than one third of the city's structures. The Dominican Priory and Church of Santo Domingo, which were built on top of the impressive Qurikancha (Temple of the Sun), were among the affected colonial era buildings. Inca architecture withstood the earthquake. Many of the old Inca walls were at first thought to have been lost after the earthquake, but the granite retaining walls of the Qurikancha were exposed, as well as those of other ancient structures throughout the city. Restoration work at the Santo Domingo complex exposed the Inca masonry formerly obscured by the superstructure without compromising the integrity of the colonial heritage. Many of the buildings damaged in 1950 had been impacted by an earthquake only nine years previously.
Since the 1990s, tourism has increased. Currently, Cusco is the most important tourist destination in Peru. Under the administration of Mayor Daniel Estrada Pérez, a staunch supporter of the Academia Mayor de la Lengua Quechua, between 1983 and 1995, the Quechua name Qosqo was officially adopted for the city.
In 1933, the Congress of Americanists met in La Plata, Argentina and declared the city as the Archeological Capital of the Americas.
In 1978, the 7th Convention of Mayors of Great World Cities met in Milan, Italy and declared Cusco a Cultural Heritage of the World.
In 1983, UNESCO, in Paris, France declared the city a World Heritage Site. The Peruvian government declared it the Tourism Capital of Peru and Cultural Heritage of the Nation.
In 2007, the New7Wonders Foundation designated Machu Picchu one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, following a worldwide poll.
Cusco extends throughout the Huatanay (or Watanay) river valley. Located on the eastern end of the Knot of Cusco, its elevation is around 11,200’. To its north is the Vilcabamba mountain range with 13,000’–20,000’ mountains. The highest peak is Salcantay 20,574’ about 37 miles northwest of Cusco.
Cusco has a subtropical highland climate. It is generally dry and temperate, with two defined seasons. The dry season lasts from May to August, with abundant sunshine and occasional nighttime freezes. July is the coolest month with an average of 49.5 °F. The wet season lasts from December to March, with night frost less common. November averages 55.9 °F. Although frost and hail are common, the only snowfall ever recorded was in June 1911. Temperatures usually range from 32.4 to 69.6 °F, but the all-time temperature range is between 16 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Sunshine hours peak in July; the equivalent of January in the northern hemisphere. In contrast, February, the equivalent of August in the northern hemisphere, has the least amount of sunshine. Cusco was found in 2006 to be the spot on Earth with the highest average ultraviolet light level.
Tourism has been the backbone to the economy starting in the early 2000s, bringing in more than 1.2 million tourists per year. In 2002, the income Cusco received from tourism was $837 million USD. In 2009, that number increased to $2.47 billion USD.
The indigenous Killke culture built the walled complex of Saksaywaman about 1100. The Killke built a major temple near Saksaywaman as well as an aqueduct and roadway connecting prehistoric structures. Saksaywaman was expanded by the Inca.
The Spanish explorer Pizarro sacked much of the Inca city in 1535. Remains of the palace of the Incas, Qurikancha (the Temple of the Sun) and the Temple of the Virgins of the Sun still stand. Inca buildings and foundations in some cases proved to be stronger than the foundations built in present-day Peru. Among the most noteworthy Spanish colonial buildings of the city is the Cathedral of Santo Domingo, Cusco.
The major nearby Inca sites are Pachacuti's presumed winter home, Machu Picchu, which can be reached on foot by the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu or by train and the "fortress" at Ollantaytambo.
Less-visited ruins include: Incahusai, the highest of all Inca sites at 13,060’; Vilcabamba, the capital of the Inca after the capture of Cusco; the sculpture garden at Nusta Hisp’ana (aka Chuqip'allta, Yuraq Rumi); Tipon with working water channels in wide terraces; as well as many others.
The surrounding area, located in the Watanay Valley, is strong in gold mining and agriculture including corn, barley, quinoa, tea and coffee.
Cusco's main stadium Estadio Garcilaso de la Vega was one of seven stadiums used when Peru hosted South America's continental soccer championship, the Copa America, in 2004. The stadium is home to one of the country's most successful soccer clubs, Cienciano.
Because of its antiquity and importance, the city center retains many buildings, plazas, streets and churches of pre-Columbia times and colonial buildings, which led to its declaration as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983.
The city had a population of about 434,114 people in 2013 and 434,654 people in 2015.
As capital to the Inca Empire, Cusco was an important agricultural region. It was a natural reserve for thousands of native Peruvian species, including around 3,000 varieties of potato cultivated by the people. Fusion and neo-Andean restaurants developed in Cusco, in which the cuisine is prepared with modern techniques and incorporates a blend of traditional Andean and international ingredients.
Because of their immediate defeat at the hands of the Spanish, much information surrounding Incan religion has been lost. Many historians rely on the religious customs of conquered Incan subjects to gather information about Incan beliefs. The Incans adopted most if not all of their religious beliefs from three main groups that lived around the empire. These groups were the Huari, the Chavin and the Nazca. With the combination of all three of these ancestral societies’ religions, the Incas were able to create a religious system that dominated almost every aspect of life in the empire.
The Inca's were profoundly religious, and so it makes sense that their religious structure was very complicated. The religion was centralized in the capital city of Cusco. Within Cusco, a highly complicated and organized calendar controlled the state religion's festivals and holy days. This calendar was responsible for almost all of the religious ceremonies that took place throughout the empire. Within the city of Cusco, there were over three hundred twenty-eight huacas or sacred objects. Huacas were located throughout the empire with most of them happening to be around the capital city. Within the capital city there was also a quipa. The quipa described all the sacred places and how they are to be used during ceremonies and sacrifices. Each sacred place or huaca was organized into forty-one different directions called ceques. These ceques started from the central temple of the Sun called Coricancha or "the golden enclosure."
There were ten groups of Incan nobility that were in charge of being priests within the city of Cusco. These ten groups of nobility were called panacas. The panacas had a vital role in Incan society in Cusco because they were in charge of worship for the deities. All of the religious aspects that took place around the city were organized and arranged by this special group of nobility. The members of these ten groups were said to have a first royal ancestor that had conquered the valley. The panacas were decided through mother's rank, fraternal succession choice, and the success and honor of the individual on the battlefield. These ten groups were then divided into two smaller groups, one representing Hanan who lived north of the valley river and the Hurin who lived south of the valley river. The Hanan and Hurin each consisted of five groups of nobility. It is known that the first group of each of the Panacas dedicated all their sacrifices to the sun. The remaining four were in charge of dedicating their sacrifices to Moon, Thunder, Virachoa and the Earth. These groups of nobility made up the uppermost tier of society, and they were highly revered and respected throughout the empire.
These five gods or entities that received the majority of sacrifices within Cusco represent the most vital aspects of Incan life. The Sun God represented the institutional organization of the society because everything in Incan life revolved around the Sun. Virachoa is also known as Apu Qun Tiqsi Wiraqutra and is considered the creator of civilization. He is one of the most, if not the most powerful, gods in Incan mythology. The sacrifices done towards Virachoa represents how much the Incans relied on outside forces to explain events in their daily lives. The sacrifices towards Thunder represent the handling of transitions in life and society. The sacrifices towards Earth and Moon show the fertility of the Earth and nature. All ten groups of nobilities had the responsibility to explain and account for all the occurrences of the natural world in and outside of the Incan empire.