History of Cuzco, the navel of the Inca Empire

History of Cuzco, the navel of the Inca Empire

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The city ​​of Cuzco, or Cusco according to the official spelling, it is located southwest of Peru, In the Andes mountain range. It is declared the historical capital of Peru and is the seventh most populated city in the country, with about 406,000 inhabitants. Likewise, it is one of the cities that generates the most tourist attraction per year in the country.

History of Cuzco, the origins

The founding origins of the city of Cuzco are mythical, as it happens with all the great ancient cities.

At 1st Millennium BC the region of Peru was a territory populated by a multitude of cultures, which, as evidenced by their ceramic productions, shared substantial differentiating features.

The Cuzco founding myth, of which there are several versions, attributes the original occupation by divine design of Inti, the sun god, to the great warrior Manco Capac and his family, in a remote time of which its exact date is not yet well known.

The first towns settled in Cuzco assimilated, when they did not subdue, local cultures and soon began a process of expansion that would lead the Inca territory to form a Empire of over 600,000 square kilometers, whose capital was precisely the City of Cuzco.

They had a dualistic conception of the world and, as such, they divided the territory of the Cuzco in two regions, the highlands and lowlands, Hanan Y Hurin.

Cuzco, cradle of the Incas

The descendants of Manco Capac formed around 1,200, according to the vestiges, a kind of chiefdom or minor dominion that was acquiring great importance over time and whose inhabitants, creators of the Killke ceramic culture, at some point they took the name of Incas.

The Incas They had a highly hierarchical political and social organization that managed to erect a completely organized capital, whose squared plan could remind any Roman city.

From that legendary Manco Capac and his family, a whole series of kings or Incas followed that they ended up being deified, to the point that they could not touch the ground or leave the palace except on religious festivals to avoid plebeian contamination.

The nerve center of the Empire it was Cuzco itself. Between 1,200 and 1,400 the foundations of political and religious organization were laid.

Not without reason did the Incas call their capitalQosqo, which in Quechua, the language and script they developed, means belly button, center.

Under the rule of Pachacútec, from 1438 to 1463, the Empire is consolidated as such. Initiated a policy of territorial extension that transformed the city from a curacazgo (process of political development) to an expanding great power, subjecting surrounding tribes such as the Chancas and annexing their territories.

I know reorganized the original layout of the city giving it a feather shape and launched a remodeling and public works plan that would confer on the city the greatness with which the Spanish found it upon their arrival in the 16th century.

At the same time, agricultural constructions were promoted, neighborhoods and houses were renovated and public and religious buildings were built.

Cuzco, in this way, rose as a powerful urban core delimited by the surrounding rivers (Saphi and Tullumallo) and from which roads started to other nearby settlements, favoring relations and commercial exchanges with other peoples of Peru.

Imperial cuzco

The Imperial cuzco It consisted of a great urban, courtly and palatial heart, reserved for a few privileged nobles and priests, and a series of what today we would call satellite cities or neighborhoods reserved for popular groups, connected to each other, in which the agricultural and livestock activity.

The Spanish conquest

The Inca splendor in the orbit of Cuzco would end in 1533 with the conquest of Pizarro, which in March of the following year recast the city with a Hispanic sign.

It is estimated that at that time the spelling of Quechua was changed to "Cuzco" to adapt it to Spanish phonetics.

The sixteenth century

Throughout the sixteenth century, during the establishment of the colonial models of state organization and institutionalization of the viceroyalty, Inca revolts against Castilian rule were frequent, until in 1572 one led by troops from Tupac Amaru, descendant of the ancestral kings, was annihilated and its leader captured.

The Spanish they did not modify much the urban environment of the city: the original indigenous constructions did not facilitate the manufacture of numerous buildings, so in many cases the Spanish houses were built on Inca buildings.

A good example of this are the Santo Domingo Convent, seated on the ancient walls of the Temple of the Sun, or the Cuzco Cathedral, which was erected on top of the majestic Palace of Viracocha.

Hence, the current spatial arrangement of urban planning corresponds very closely to that had in the times of the Inca empire.

The seventeenth century

Along the XVII century, Cuzco would lose something of importance within the country to the detriment of the large mining centers, such as Potosí, but it continued to host a large number of population, especially indigenous (about 4,000 Spaniards compared to 20,000 natives).

The Colonial architecture it was integrated into the image of the city, as seen in the religious buildings already mentioned, such as the Cathedral, or even in the houses themselves.

At that time the current Main Square, in the center and next to the Cathedral, also seated on a ancient Inca space.

The square brought together the daily, social and commercial life of the inhabitants of Cuzco, as well as the religious celebrations.

He also suffered some disagreements in that century; as the records cite, in 1650 an earthquake struck the city and many of the colonial buildings were lost.

Inside the Cathedral an anonymous canvas is preserved that recounts these events, and the fires and destruction that occurred as a result of the earthquake.

Century XVIII

With the century XVIII, a new dynasty is introduced into the Spanish Crown, the Bourbon.

However, despite the institutional reorganization of the colonies and the creation of two new viceroyalties, Andean society had long suffered from the disagreements that subjection to the mita entailed.

The half It was a work model, inherited from the Inca state administration, which forced the indigenous population to offer a certain number of workers annually for each of the production sectors in exchange for their protection and maintenance by an encomendero.

With the influence of illustrated ideas and the reminiscence of the ancient Inca revolts, Tupac Amaru IIInspired by his predecessors, he rose up against Spanish power in the city of Cuzco and the revolt spread throughout the country.

Although he was finally defeated, unleashed a whole series of movements, indigenous and Creole, what would lead to the final independence.

The «Rebellion of Cusco» and the Independence of Peru

The call "Rebellion of Cusco" (1814-15) promoted by Mateo Pacamahua He not only liberated the city from Spanish rule, but the entire province that included other surrounding populations.

After a long struggle against the royalist strongholds, which supported the Crown of Spain and which in the viceroyalty of Peru were stronger in their long historical tradition, the pro-Bourbon general Ramírez achieved military victory in the city and thereby put down the revolt.

However, during it the self-government of the city had been proclaimed, which was definitively confirmed with the full independence from the Viceroyalty of Peru in 1821.

With the Republic and the creation of the Department of Cuzco, the city became the capital of the region and enjoyed importance within the administrative organization of the country.

Cuzco today

Along the twentieth centuryAlthough it had to suffer more natural catastrophes such as an earthquake in 1950, it would receive all the historical, cultural and tourist recognition.

Expeditions, indigenous protection policies and legislation in favor of cultural development and heritage conservation were promoted, and even modernization in every sense, development that has led it to be today, a city where commerce flows.

In 1933 it was declared as "Archaeological Capital of South America" and in 1938, UNESCO declared it as World Heritage.

Currently, the city is one of the most visited tourism in Peru, thanks to the interest that attracts the relationship of its past with the splendid and attractive Inca Empire and, in general, its eventful history.

Close to the city are the Machu Picchu ruins, of great tourist attraction, in a mountainous area that rises to almost 2,500 meters above sea level.

In 1911, the expeditions of Hiram Bingham They gave the site renown and recognition and had a great reception in the scientific and archaeological world.

Cover image: Stock Photos, by Christian Vinces on Shutterstock.

Romantic, in the artistic sense of the word. In my adolescence both family and friends reminded me over and over that I was an inveterate humanist, as I spent time doing what perhaps others not so much, believing myself to be Bécquer, immersed in my own artistic fantasies, in books and movies, constantly wanting to travel and explore the world, admired for my historical past and for the wonderful productions of the human being. That is why I decided to study History and combine it with Art History, because it seemed to me the most appropriate way to carry out the skills and passions that characterize me: reading, writing, traveling, researching, knowing, making known, educating. Disclosure is another of my motivations, because I understand that there is no word that has real value if it is not because it has been transmitted effectively. And with this, I am determined that everything I do in my life has an educational purpose.

Video: The Inca Empire Explained in 11 Minutes


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