Cusco is a vibrant city that was flourishing even before the advent of the Incas; however once they inhabited the area, they changed the landscape forever.
In this present day, it boasts of majestic structures both of the Incan period as well as later Spanish additions during the colonialization.
Cusco is an ideal place for a Peru holiday not just for the ancient archeological sites but also the post-colonial almost modern architecture and restaurants.
Moreover, if you’re looking for something different such as a connection to the inherent history of the region and a life-changing set of experiences then you’d be better off spending most of your time in the spirited historical sites where the allure undoubtedly runs deeper.
Qurikancha or Korikancha is one of the most sacred sites to visit in Cusco for the reason that it was built to invite the blessings of two major Gods in the Incan religion which were namely Wiracocha and Thunder.
The name stands for a ‘golden courtyard’ and the main parts of the site were host only to royals, the mummies of royals, high priests and other people who were significant for religious practices.
While the Incas were widely polytheistic, the themes around the structures in Qurikancha depict a deeper attachment to the creation deity and the God of thunder and weather called Inti lllapa.
Since the population even back then would have been in the hundreds of thousands, we see trails of their preoccupation with appeasing Gods that they believed were directly linked to crop production and cycles. This also explains their reverence for the sun god Apu-Punchau.
Architecturally, Qurikancha was constructed to be the domain of the higher classes of society with the normal populace pushed to the housing near the perimeters of the courtyard.
In keeping with the need to worship to ensure the life of the crops and fertility of the land, there were also expansive warehouses where food was stored and kept under the eye of the ruling class. They can still be seen today.
The entire courtyard has gold statues and ceremonial stone tables and back in the Incan period, it would have functioned as one of the main attractions for key ceremonies and gatherings especially those that related to the worship of the sun.
There is evidence to suggest that the site held a kind mystic energy which even the non-Inca population wanted to access so notable members of those tribes made excursions to Qurikancha during decided times of the year to worship and show their adoration for the same Gods.
After the Spanish invasion, a part of Qurikancha suffered demolition and the Church of Santo Domingo stands there today with its Baroque and Renaissance influences.
Pisac Incan Citadel
Another one of the sacred sites Peru has is the Pisac Incan Citadel which held monumental importance as a fortress primarily for military purposes back during the time of the Incas.
It towers over the valley to which it served as a gateway and was also used as a protective structure for the pathways to the main crop plantations.
The scenery is astounding with views of the neighboring rainforest and extensive Inca terraces overlooking the remnants of the houses, bathing quarters, temples and military establishments.
Keeping up with the Inca’s love for the powers and shapes of certain animals, the ruins still display a vaguely visible resemblance to the wing of a Pisac or partridge.
Qenko showcases the darker side to the Inca religion as it is the temple which is historically synonymous with human child sacrifices and ritualistic practices using the concept of death. The site has been dated and found to belong to a time before the Incas inhabited it.
The temple also runs underground where the royals and noblemen must have been embalmed and mummified in preparation for their journey to the next life. The temple was a homage to Mother Earth and also the creation of life so it possessed immense religious importance.
Significance Of The Architectural Layout Of Cusco
Cusco is fairly unique as a historical site simply because most of the construction was made with such steady hands and forward visions that the ruins so to speak are in remarkable condition to this day.
If you are visiting as many do for yoga Cusco can be very easily navigated and traveler-friendly. You will find that most of the sites on your list are within reasonable distance of the main tourist starting point of Plaza De Armas (Hispanic for main square or parade ground) in Cusco.
Cusco was the great Incan Capital which is why it only makes sense that they put in a lot of thought about the layout, inner-city accessibility as well as adequate representations of religious ideas.
The city follows the bodily shape and extremities of the Puma (a sacred animal for the Incas) with the Sacsayhuaman fortress serving as the head, Huacaypata as the stomach and the rivers of Huatanay and Tullumayo as the majestic tail.
The Plaza De Armas in the Incan times would have served as an administrative office where the rulers overlooked the city and the roads and pathways would have enabled quick and effective communication to the perimeters of the city.
This is where the agriculture production, industrial units, and defense mechanisms would have been located. This helps us to understand that the city of Cusco would indeed have been created to indicate a self-fulfilling, all-encompassing way of life for the Inca people.
Sacsayhuaman is understood as the sharp-toothed head of the Puma which was designed to be the shape of Cusco city and is one of the most important sites that you must visit while on a Peru holiday.
This fortress has many key structural elements which would have proved useful during a military confrontation as the walls were created with forty segments each to make defensive attacks easier. It could have easily accommodated up to a thousand soldiers during battle back in those times.
The other thing which was special about the way the fortress was designed was that there was only one small doorway per terrace for accessing the housing and food storage buildings in the interior.
The stonework itself warrants a walk around the ruins as despite the Spanish alterations to the structures, much still remains to be seen as the Incas would have intended.
Bath Of The Inca or Tambomachy
This sacred site was a favorite of the Incas for what they conceived was a purifying ritual through which evil spirits and influences could be cleansed and kept at bay.
The vestiges of the site show several waterfalls and a well-planned network of canals which would have worked well for the purpose especially for large groups of people performing the ritual together.
The indigenous people believe that the streams which supply the canals have never stopped flowing or dried up because the site has ancient powers of rejuvenating life which is why it has been lovingly nicknamed ‘the fountain of youth.’
Constructed in part with red granite and various decorative carvings and embellishments, the use of the site can be assumed to be one associated with special ceremonies rather than having been open to the general public.
Getting To And Fro From Cusco
Cusco is one of the easier places to access if you are indulging in a Peru holiday as there is no shortage of international flights and there exists an efficient bus system within the city linked to the various sites.