Cuzco history

The city of Cuzco (Cusco) as we know it today was initially started its construction by the Inca around 1300 but proof has been found of another civilization; The Killke. Traces of this ancient part of Cuzco history have been found around the site of Sacsayhuaman.

Nevertheless the Cuzco history received its first big impulse under the Inca rule. According the myth this is where Manco Inca set his staff in the ground and decided to build the Inca capital. The city was constructed in the form a puma, with Sacsayhuaman as head of the Puma and the main square as the heart. The city had two sectors: the urin and hanan. Each was further divided to encompass two of the four provinces, Chinchasuyu (NW), Antisuyu (NE), Qontisuyu (SW) and Collasuyu (SE). A road led from each of these quarters to the corresponding quarter of the empire.

The city was further built and developed by Pachacutec, the great Inca worrier, the man who transformed the Kingdom of Cuzco from a sleepy city-state into the vast empire of Tahuantinsuyu.

The city fell as a consequence of the division of the empire after the death of Huayna Capac in 1527. It was captured by the generals of Atahualpa, one of the two sons who divided the Inca Empire. Nineteen months later, Spanish explorers invaded the city, taking advantage of this city weakened by internal struggle.

The first Spaniards arrived in the city on 15 November 1533. Francisco Pizarro officially arrived in Cusco on 23 March 1534, renaming it the "Very noble and great city of Cuzco". The many buildings constructed after the Hispanic invasion have a mixture of Spanish influence with Inca indigenous architecture, including the Santa Clara and San Blas neighborhoods. The Spanish destroyed many Inca buildings, temples and palaces. They used the remaining walls as bases for the construction of a new city. Cuzco stands on layers of cultures, with the old Tawantinsuyu built on Killke structures, and the Spanish having replaced indigenous temples with Catholic churches, and palaces with mansions for the invaders. The Cuzco history is literally built on top of each other.

Cuzco was the center for the Spanish colonization and spread of Christianity in the Andean world. It became very prosperous thanks to agriculture and mining, as well as the trade with Spain. The Spanish colonists constructed many churches and convents, as well as a cathedral, university and Archbishopric.

Having suffered from earth quakes throughout the entire Cuzco history, a major earthquake on 21 May 1950 caused severe damage in Cuzco. The Dominican Priory and Church of Santo Domingo, which were built on top of the impressive Qoricancha (Temple of the Sun), were among the colonial era buildings affected. The city's Inca architecture, however, withstood the earthquake. Many of the old Inca walls were at first thought to have been lost after the earthquake, but the granite retaining walls of the Qoricancha were exposed, as well as those of other ancient structures throughout the city.

After Peru declared its independence in 1821, Cuzco maintained its importance within the administrative structure of the country. Upon independence, the government created the Department of Cuzco, maintaining authority over territory extending to the Brazilian border. Cuzco was made capital of the department; subsequently it became the most important city in the south-eastern Andean region.

Since the 1990s, tourism increased, and the hotel sector subsequently expanded. Currently, Cuzco is the most important tourist destination in Peru. The city's urban sprawl is still expanding, having extended to the San Sebastian and San Jerónimo districts. As you can read, Cuzco history is as rich as many of the ancient cities in the world. The birthplace of several cultures and ground for several culture clashes; this is what makes Cuzco the special city it is.

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