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Cusco History, Peru

Cuzco, the former capital of the Inca Empire, is nowadays one of the foremost tourist destinations in Peru. It is a quaint city, especially because it represents an interesting blend of Spanish colonial architecture, remainders of Inca buildings, and it is inhabited by the descendants of both the Inca and the Spanish colonists who conquered the city hundreds of years ago. In this respect, Cuzco is similar to Arequipa and Lima, but it presents a much larger historical interest. This Cuzco History Guide will briefly go over the most important events in the rich history of this enchanting city.

Cuzco History Guide - Killke period

Cuzco is known by most people as the ancient capital of the Inca capital. However, what later become the city of Cuzco was built next to an even older fortress erected by the Killke. The Killke civilization occupied highland Peru and flourished until the 12th century, when the Inca came. The site of Sacsayhuaman was used by the Inca after the disappearance of the Killke.

Cusco History Guide - Inca Empire

The Inca started building Cuzco in the early 13th century. According to the legend, a leader named Pachacuti built the capital and laid the foundations of the Inca Empire. The city is thought to have been planned to take the shape of a puma. Cuzco passed through the hands of several dynasties, although not much is known about the first one, the Sapa Inca. Other cultures, such as the Chapa, were a constant threat to the Incas, but this powerful culture managed to keep its supremacy over the highlands of Peru until the arrival of the Spaniards. The last ruler of the Inca Empire was Atahualpa, a great military leader who was captured by the Spanish soldiers led by Francisco Pizzaro. At first, the Spaniard kept Atahualpa as hostage in order to gain control of the empire, but he was eventually strangled and the Inca Empire fell into ruin.

Cusco History Guide - Spanish conquest and post-Columbian era

The first Spanish soldiers arrived to Cuzco in 1533 under the leadership of Francisco Pizzaro. The battle of Cuzco ended in a bloodbath due to the superior weapons of the Spanish Forces. Despite the tactics of the Inca, they could not hold out against the Spanish siege weapons. The effect of the Spanish conquest on the population was catastrophic. While the Inca did not die out because they were executed by the Spanish, as many believe, they were killed off by the diseases brought over from Europe by the colonists. The Spanish demolished many of the Inca buildings, and rebuilt the Very Noble an Great City of Cuzco, as they called it. The remaining natives were Christianized, and many churches and convents were built. Thanks to the fertile lands surrounding Cuzco, the city flourished under the Spanish rule.

Cusco History Guide - Republican period and present

In 1821, Peru declared its independence from Spain. Cuzco continued to grow and spread, and it became the capital of the department of Cuzco. The 20th century witnessed a returning interest towards the Columbian civilizations, and Cuzco was declared the Archaeological capital of the Americas, and later a World Heritage Site, and it has been receiving growing numbers of tourists ever since.

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  • WazlingThe ancient Inka castle on the mountain near Aguas Calientes
    travel tip by Wazling posted more then 30 days ago
    If you are at Cuzco, you should definietly visit Machu Picchu, the ancient Inka fort on top of the mountain. A huge part of the houses are preserved. And also the nature is worth a visit. There is an railroad till Aguas Calientes, a...
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