A beautiful stroll down cobbled streets led us to the main square and the Incan Museum. The Inca civilization stretched from Columbia to Argentina in the 1400’s and at it’s height numbered 8 million people. 1.2 million Incas remain today. Cusco was the central part of the Incan Empire – Cusco means literally golden palace. Most of the gold ended up melted down into spanish coin following the arrival of the Spaniards. Incredible art objects became spanish dubloons. Inca places of worship were built over by Catholic churches. Major earthquakes which occur every three hundred years have destroyed many of the spanish built churches revealing the Inca remains below. Due to the building practices of the Incas their buildings were much more resilient to big quakes.
In the museum we were fortunate enough to watch local weavers at work and see some incredible pottery and textiles. Our next visit was to Qorikancha – the Inca temple of the sun. The Incas were accomplished astronomers, had elaborate rituals for the burial their dead and a strong religion based on their gods.
In the afternoon we took a bus up to a view point about the city which was a warrior training complex called Saqsaywaman. Literally translated this means Falcon scratches. Buildings were built around a huge amphitheatre of sand.
The base of the structures was bedrock which was carved to accommodate the blocks that were put on top. Here warriors lived and trained. Views to Cusco were breath taking.
The one anomaly was a beautiful pure white 100 foot statue of Jesus in the building area. The story goes that a Muslim country gave a grant to Cusco earmarked for statues to their gods. Cusco is 85% + catholic so Jesus was the choice. Needless to say that was the last grant money received from that particular muslim country…………..
Tomorrow we drive deeper into the sacred valley.