Saturday, June 19

An abridged history: Cusco and the Sacred Valley

Regarding the previous post, f you’re saying, “wait, where?” here’s the abridged version:

The Incan civilization extended from Ecuador to Argentina during the 1200-1500s, and was eventually conquered by Francisco Pizarro and his conquistador crew in 1536.

Cusco was the Inca’s capital city. Their impressive architecture remains the foundation of Cusco’s center, on top of which the conquistadors constructed Spanish-style buildings with red-tile roofs. Cusco is a living record of two cultures colliding, like you can see in the photo below:

The city sits at an elevation of 10,912 feet in a high mountain valley bordering Peru’s Amazon. Jungle fruits and vegetables are often seen in Cusco’s markets. Yet from a good viewpoint in the city’s hillside neighborhood of San Blas, snow-covered peaks with elevations reaching almost 21,000 feet.

Thanks to its location near Machu Picchu, Cusco is now an international tourist mecca filled with hotels, travel agencies and pricey restaurants. More than 2,000 tourists visit the ruins each day. Others visit the city for its known special spiritual energy, magnetic forces and evidence of extraterrestrial visits.

But Machu Picchu aren’t the only ruins in the Cusco area. Just a short walk up the hill from Cusco is Saqsaywaman, the Incan fortress that protected the city. From there, the Incans laid siege on the Spanish in Cusco, before finally being defeated and retreating to Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley (pictured below).

The Sacred Valley, only 45 minutes from the city, contains various small villages surrounded by elaborate Incan ruins. There’s also the villages of Pisac, Urubama and Chincheros that are worth seeing.

This is a picture of Pisac's market:

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