Wednesday 12 June 2024

Cusco of the Incas and the Sacred Valley

We made it! We have finally reached the one and only... Cusco! I've been waiting for this since Dan and Ioanna told us about our trip to South America! I can't quite believe we are finally here!

What can I say about Cusco (or Qozqu as the Incas called it)? Personally, I think Cusco's name should be Cusco of the Incas. And that's because, everywhere you look, there are so many churches, houses and generally buildings built on top of old Inca walls. It's like the Incan history is the base for the whole city. That's why I think the Incas need to be acknowledged somehow in the city's name. Don't you agree?

We've been to so many big cities in our trip but Cusco has to be right there at the top for me! We spent three days with our friend Maro and one day on our own. I can tell you that much...four days were enough to see its beauty, but also how unique it is. But four days were definitely not enough to visit all the places and cites in Cusco and the Sacred Valley. There are so many places! Saqsywaman, Puka Pukara, Pisac and many many more.

A bit about its history: Cusco was the centre of the Incan empire. The city of Cusco created by the Spanish was built on blood. That's because the Spanish forced the Incas to take the stones from their temples and use them to construct churches and homes. How is that different from what the Incas did, I hear you ask? I am not sure but I think the difference for me is that, in the Inca period, the city of Cusco was built to show how strong and magnificent their empire was. You see, the Incas were primarily an agricultural empire and so dedicated 6 months of the year to farming. The other six months were dedicated to building and construction. For them, their constructions were a show of strength that could be used to intimidate their enemies.

I am only going to give you a little flavour of how amazing Cusco is by describing Saqsywaman because to tell you about all the sites we visited would literally take many many posts.

Saqsywaman is an old Inca "fort" on the edge of Cusco. Saqsywaman or (in its true name) Saqsyhuaman means puma head, as the city of Cusco was planned to look like a puma, the animal that represented our earth for the Incas. When the Spaniards arrived in Cusco and discovered Saqsywaman, saw its looming tall terraces and strong walls, they immediately thought that this was a fort. What was it really? A temple and ceremonial centre. I have to say that I don't blame them because the whole site looks magnificent and, in the eyes of someone who doesn't know, well-defendable. But if they knew a bit about the Incas and their belief system, they could have realised that Saqsywaman was absolutely not a fort. Unfortunately, the war-like Spanish saw Saqsywaman and thought that this is a fort and immediately began its destruction. 

On the site, there are three terraces: the top one is represented by the condor or the Hanan Pacha, meaning the overworld; the next terrace is represented by the puma, or the Kay Pacha, meaning our earth; and the lowest terrace is represented by the snake, the Uchu Pacha, meaning the under world. There's a part of the middle layer where huge stones have been arranged in a puma paw - and a snake design in the lower layer.

Saqsywaman has some of the best Incan stone masonry, with huge blocks cut to precision, and is considered a feat of human engineering. On the other side from the terraces, there is what archaeologists now describe as the 'stone rainbow', where the Inca king, his family and high ranking lords and priests would sit during the winter solstice celebrations on 21st June, the most important day of the Inca calendar. 

I know I haven't been posting very much recently because we've been travelling and moving a lot. But, fear not, it's going to get very busy and very soon! Bye for now...


  1. Cusco, Cusco, classical Cusco..
    .Friends on the road,
    Dan, Ioanna, Orestis, Ismene and Marow

    1. Se efxaristo Marow ala nomizo oti to Cusco Cusco historical Cusco pai kalitera.

  2. This is extraordinary, so much history and rather sad. Where are you going to be on 21 June? Is 21 June still celebrated? Lots of love to you all Mxx

    1. Well I believe we will be coming out of the jungle, the deepest Amazon, and into the Cloud Forest. So not on Inca territory. But apparently the Spanish forced them to change the celebrations to 24th June and I hope we will be back on the highlands.