Tourist Attractions in the Imperial City of Cusco

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Cusco or Qosqo in Quechua, the language of the Incas, is known as the “center of the world.” Every year, this cosmopolitan city welcomes thousands of tourists seeking culture and endless entertainment. It offers a wide variety of timeless experiences and the best tourist attractions in South America.

According to legend, Cusco was a city with many buildings, forts and temples belonging to the Inca nobility that made this city the administrative, social and religious center of the territory ruled by the Incas, which stretched from Ecuador to Chile. The culture and customs that prevailed in Cusco were unparalleled and have survived until the present day.

The Tahuantinsuyo or Inca Empire was defeated following the arrival of Spaniards in 1532, when its annexation to the Spanish Empire began. The conquerors looted and destroyed everything in their path, from beautiful temples to the sun god to unique forts adorned with silver and gold.

Following the conquest of not only territory, but also of the indigenous people, the Spaniards began building their own city and culture over the ruins of the local culture. Therefore, visitors to Cusco will find a picturesque combination of Inca and Spanish architecture like no other.

Touring the city of Cusco, one will find the famous Qorikancha or Temple to the Sun. Historians say that it was a religious complex where Inca deities were worshiped. Its construction was begun during the reign of Manco Capac and completed during the reign of Pachacutec. It appears to have been one of the Incas’ most important religious centers for paying homage to the sun god, the stars, the moon, lightning, the constellations etc.

Cusco’s Renaissance-style cathedral was built in 1539 over the remains of what had been the palace of Inca Wiracocha. It houses unique sculptures in cedar and aliso and a collection of paintings pertaining to the Cusco style of colonial art, many of which are significant because they express a silent protest against the new religion imposed by the conquerors.

The town square had at least two names in Quechua: Aucaypata (place of the warrior) and Huacaypata (place of sorrow). It was a ceremonial location where the annual Sun Festival (Inti Raymi) was held prior to the arrival of the Spanish conquerors, who destroyed it and began building churches and walls around it as a sign of their victory. Today, there are dozens of cafés, bars, night clubs, restaurants, etc. around the town square.

The Inca Museum, also known as the Archaeological Museum of Cusco, is located near the town square. It houses an unsurpassed collection of Inca and Pre-Inca artifacts, important historical documents such as manuscripts by Garcilazo de la Vega on the history of Peru, and a priceless collection of paintings, musical instruments, coins, agricultural tools, etc.

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