History of Cusco

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Cusco, Mystical City
The city of Cusco is built in the valley of the Huatanay River, in the southern sierra of Peru. Cusco, from the quechua Qosco, means the "navel of the world" and this name is due to the fact that it has always been the center of a vast network of roads which connect each one of the four regions that represent the " four parts of the world" according to the Andean cosmovision.

Currently, the city of Cusco is the main tourist destination in the country and one of the most important in America. Called by the Incas the "house and dwelling of gods" it is historically significant as the capital of the Tawantinsuyo.

Of course Cusco is also a colonial city, with splendid churches and large houses. Many consider that it is exactly this special mixture which makes it a really charming city.

The importance of Cusco peaked during the reign of the Incas (1438-1532 A.D.), but its exact origins as a city are not actually known, as they are lost among myths and legends. One of the most popular legends has been passed down through the famous chronicles of the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, in which the stories of Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo are told, the couple that magically emerged from the holy waters of Titicaca Lake, about the XI and XII centuries A.D., to found the city of Cusco.

Furthermore, Cusco was the center of government of the four regions of the Incan empire, which comprised a great part of what currently is Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. The Incan society was an admirable example of organization, and nowadays is admired because of its great knowledge of architecture, hydraulic engineering, medicine and agriculture.

The Spanish Conquest
In the year 1534, the Spanish arrived under the command of the conqueror Francisco Pizarro and a Spanish city was founded over Cusco. This meant a dramatic change for the Andean world after two thousand years of independent development. Many important Incan constructions were destroyed or served as the base for other new constructions (one can see the evidence of this at some temple sites).

In contrast with the thought of some people, Cusco then became one of the most sublime expressions of the mixture of races in America. However, the Spanish conquest also had another aspect: indigenous opposition would lead to great revolutions against Spanish imperial domination, among these, the revolution led by José Gabriel Condorcanqui (Tupac Amaru II) in 1780; that of the Angulo brothers in 1813; and that commanded by Mateo Pumacahua in 1814.

The Lost City of the Incas
In 1911, due to the information provided by local peasants, the American researcher Hiram Bingham discovered the majestic Incan citadel of Machu Picchu which is today one of the main tourist destinations in America and is considered one of the world´s most outstanding feats of architecture. It comprises military type buildings, squares, temples and terraces (for cultivation), and is nestled between the mountains of Machu Picchu (old mountain) and Huayna Picchu (young mountain), in the middle of the tropical jungle. It is known that it was a cult center, astronomical observatory, and private property of Inca Pachacutec and his family.