October 22, 2007


After Arequipa, the Colca Canyon and the Cruz del Condor, my next goal was Cusco, which I reached after an early morning flight via Julianca.

Cusco (or Cuzco, or Qusqu in the native Inca – Quechua - language, still spoken by the local population) is the centre for visits to all kinds of pre-Inca and Inca sites. The altitude is around 3500 meters (11500 ft) and the city is today - of course - a Cultural World Heritage site.

Cusco (translation, the “navel” – of the world) was the capital of the Inca Empire, which more or less covered the present Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, northern Chile and part of Argentina. When the Spanish conquerors arrived around 1533-34, they made it to their Peruvian capital, but later they transferred this role to Lima and Cusco lost its importance, until the discovery of Machu Picchu and some other nearby sites, making it to a tourist capital.

The Spaniards of course destroyed most of the Inca buildings, but constructed on top of Inca foundations, which have resisted to different earthquakes, including an important one in 1650 and another one in 1950, when actually a number of foundations, which had been more or less covered, reappeared. This goes e.g. for the foundations of the Sun Temple Koricancha, the major Inca temple, on which the Church of Santo Domingo had been built. Many of Cusco’s central buildings are standing on today visible Inca foundations and you can admire with which precision they fit the heavy stones together (see one picture of a stone with 12 angles!!).

The Spaniards built a large number of churches including the Cathedral and La Compañía, which you can find on the central place, Plaza de Armas, not to mention Le Merced, San Francisco, San Blas…. Most churches are full of gold, of course “stolen” from the Incas and smelted down. (Basically, you are not allowed to take any pictures inside churches, but I took a few in Cusco and elsewhere – of course without flash – and in some cases I even got the exceptional permission.)

The city centre is of course full of tourists, meaning hotels, restaurants, shops…, but you can also take walks on the surrounding hills, where you can again find traces of the Incas, but especially the local population and their streets and houses. You can see some school children – often in uniforms; schooling is compulsory in Peru, which however does not mean that all children attend school. I spent four nights in Cusco and it was worth it! But, Cusco is of course the place from where you visit Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. These will be the following episodes.

For a better view of the above photos, I suggest that you visit my photo blog!


Azer Mantessa said...

a worthwhile knowing ... never had i thought inca empire was that huge.

nice pics there. thx.

Ex-Shammickite said...

I looked at the pics on the other blog, I should really like to viisit there one day. The green fountain is lovely. And those old colonial buidings, such interesting architecture. I can't wait to see your post about Machu Picchu.
Thank you for your kind comments about The Wedding! It was an event to remember! We all had a wonderful time celebrating, but now I have the worst head cold that I have had in the past ten years.... I hope germs don't travel by internet or you will catch it!

Annie said...

The textiles are so interesting to me. I'm sure I'd be focused on them whenever I was near the people wearing their interesting clothing. And those balconies, all different colors, that is quite a lovely feature of the area too.

I am looking forward to seeing Macchu Pichu through your lens.

Keshi said...

ty for the details too! VERY INTERESTING!


Ash said...

The navel of the world...what a truly interesting place.

Emily Lin said...

Wow! I couldn't wait anymore for your next post! Macchu Pichu! I enjoyed reading your details about Cusco, and certainly the photos as well. Beautiful fountain. Are the people there friendly? Just curious asking, did you travel around there by yourself?

alice said...

This fountain seems to be made of Wedgewood earthenware...

delphinium said...

J'ai appris plein de choses aujourd'hui. Et je me réjouis particulièrement de la suite et des photos du machin pikachu, pardon micchu pacchu. olalalala, le Machu Picchu. J'aime bien la photo avec tous les petits enfants, ils ont l'air heureux! :-) Tout cela me fait penser à Tintin. "Tintin au temple du soleil". Je crois que c'est l'histoire de Tintin que j'ai préférée. Enfin, voilà. Bonne journée Peter!

lasiate said...

j'aime bien la petite écolière qui peine à monter avec son cartable sur le dos

richard said...

You certainly have a talent for these photologues Peter. In a strange land here, as much as in your familiar Paris.

Anonymous said...

I really think this will be your best post from your trip. At least for me as this represents lots of mysteries. The stones you saw and described. How they are fit together and made to fit together like they do by a people who were still, more or less, in the stone age with regards to tools. That remains a mystery but a bigger mystery is how they managed to move them at all. I really like your photos.

GMG said...

Great post, as usual! Beautiful pictures, adequate information, and that touch of personal feeling that makes the difference!
Loved to confirm everything I've learned about Cuzco on my preparation for the flopped trip... Just one query: did you had some troubles with the altitude, namely on the way to the Colca Canyon?
Have a great week!

Nihal said...

Peter, I appreciate very much your insights and comments about your trip, THANK YOU so much indeed for sharing. I do need to tell here that I started looking for a ''sponsor'' for myself! Not joking, but I can hardly wait to be able to visit these lands...

hpy said...

Jag ar lite sen idag, och for att inte saga som dom andra sager jag det pa svenska. Fina bilder. Jag skulle verkligen garna aka till Sydamerika sjalv opch besoka gamla inca-tempel mm. Men det ar mandag, och mandag ar en arbetsdag med massor med papper som vantar pa att bli undanstokade. Dock inte direkt i papperskorgen, tyvarr.

Cergie said...

C'est quoi qu'elle a dit HPY ? Elle parle en ketchup, non en quechua ?

C'est passionnant, tu montres avec ce message comme nous ne sommes rien à l'échelle de l'humanité. Comme les civilisations se font et se défont. Il n'y a qu'à voir les vêtement des jeunes générations / l'habillement traditionnel des mères
Et puis tu parles bien des constructions qui se succèdent et s'empilent en 1000 feuilles
Vraiment, tu m'épates... Et tu aurais voulu que je fasse ce genre de message en revenant de Chine? Jamais je ne pourrais...

MONA said...

very interesting!
I like the picture of the colorful balconies in a row! :)

SusuPetal said...

Really, such posts should be banned!!! They make me yearn to travel and it's impossible!!!!

But, I'll settle for a trip on the sofa with my laptop reading about your journey, Peter, thanks.

Chuckeroon said...

I'm so impressed by the green fountain! Perhaps I missed it but I did not see a note in your text. Remarkable! How fortunate to have been able to make this trip.

Peter said...

Yes a great empire, but which did not last for long, only some 100 years!

Peru should be easier to reach from where you live than from where I live... and hardly any time lag! Decide to go!

As I said somewhere else, the local Indian population is still basically dressed in the tradcitional way, except the schoolchildren, often wearing some kind of uniform!

Peter said...

Thank YOU!

They thoght of course that this was the navel: at least it was THEIR navel!

Yes, the people are are very friendly - of course often asking for some money, e.g. as compensation for being photographed! Yes, I travelled on my own. Some company could have been nice, but I don't too much like the organised trips where you must follow the crowd and see things that others have decided for you!

Peter said...

Your are perfectly right concerning the Wedgewood!

Oui, les enfants étaient adorables et avaient l'air tellement heureux d'être photographiés... et ils n'ont pas demandé de compensation!

Comme déjà dit, tous les enfants étaient vraiement adorables!

Peter said...

Thanks! Sorry for making nothing in b&w!

Yes, they made a fantastic job with the stones and the foundations! Obviously they had not "invented" the wheel! How they managed to transport is a mystery, especially as the land is far from flat! Also, they did not write, meaning that the mystery is even greater; nothing is written or described!

Thanks! No problem with the altitude! Thanks to the coca leaves or not?

Peter said...

So you need a "sponsor"? I would be happy to be at least your distant "sponsor"!

Hoppas tisdag blir lugnare!

hpy maitrise aussi la très belle (?) langue suédoise!! Jalouse?
Oui, je m'attendais à des reportages très complets sur la Chine. OK, je sais que tu as fait une visite "d'affaires" et très rapide. Je pense donc que tu peux être excusée!

Peter said...

Yes, the balconies are beautiful... and you haven't yet seen some from Lima! Some kind of Spanish tradition!

I'm sorry if I make you a bit jealeous! ... I know how much you would like to leave Finland during the dark months!

Yes, I made no specific info about the fountain, bacause I did not find any. At least, we can agree that it looks like Wedgewood. I don't know which was created first.

Cergie said...

J'ai ADORE Aki Kaurismäki et "l'homme sans passé". Quelle philosophie de vie ds ce film !

Quoi ? Ben oui, jaimerais parler le suédois, mais je préfèrerais mieux parler l'anglais, les suédois parlent tous anglais, les anglais pas tous le suédois...

Et pis, la Chine, j'ai un satané poil ds la main depuis le début de l'année, tu verras qd t'auras mon ge... comme bloggueuse je veux dire.

Cuckoo said...

Excellent post Peter !!

Loved the pictures and the insight of their lives. The pictures themselves tell tales.

Colourful balconies.. doesn't it look like a part of Italy ?

Sonia said...

Wonderful photos, Peter! Stunning colors! Love your explanations about Cusco and I learn and enjoy so much seeing your posts. Thanks for sharing!

lyliane said...

Que tes photos sont belles encore, encore, encore......

Peter said...

Ve n'esp pas dans ta façon de commenter qu'on voit des signes de lassitude!

Thanks! The balconies remind us of course of the Mediterranean countries, but I would more think of Spain tan of Italy!

It's a pleasure to share with you and everybody!

Merci! Je sais que tu voudrais y aller!

april said...

It's great that we can visit all those places and see them through your eyes. You've taken wonderful and interesting photos. It seems that you haven't planned too much and took decisions right at the place. That's a fine way of travelling.

Heather said...

What a wonderful sensory journey you are taking us on, Peter -- one can easily imagine the sights, sounds and smells of the marketplace, not to mention feel the awe of being surrounded by such beautiful and historic sites as these. Thank you for sharing your journey with us!