History and Information About Cusco

Important points of the history of Cusco starting from the Plaza de Armas.

In Inca times, what is today the Plaza de Armas was at that time Haucaypata with the Kusipata,(today Regocijo), and was the center of the Inca Empire. It is a large esplanade divided in two by the Saphy River. It was the ceremonial center with the temple that today we call Saqsayhuaman above and the Qorikancha below. It was from there the great Qhapaq Ñan (now a World Heritage site) left to go to the entire Empire which extended from what is now Colombia to the Rio Maule of Chile, from the Pacific to the Amazon. Around the center were a whole series of courts dedicated to the families of the Incas (that is, the Emperors and their Qoyas, what they call panacas.

The Catedral Church of Cuzco, The Family Lived Near This Plaza.
The Catedral Church of Cuzco, The Family Lived Near This Plaza.

The Cathedral today was formerly a court dedicated to Macno Kapaq, the first Inca and in its surroundings, now Catholicized, are still perceived much Incaico.  In the buildings, you can see much of how the Incas of colonial Cusco challenged the Spaniards keeping enough of their own, although with many parts Spanish.  For example, the altar of the Lord of Unupuncu contains a puquio that was point of origin according to the myths and a place where the people continued making offerings.  It was so until recently, and it has now been covered.

There was also the ovaloid stone where the door of the cathedral, of which we have written, remained.  It was connected with the great Wiracocha.  The people touched to give themselves energy and that also they gave to him. Recently it has been hidden, I understand.

Today, Compañía de Jesús is the Jesuit’s center. Its glory and presence reflects the competition that was many times in the colony among the Jesuits, an order that was formed shortly after the Spanish invasion.  The family of the founder, namely Martin de Loyola, the brother of Ignacio de Loyola who developed it, married a nusta, a princess of royal blood, establishing a connection between that order so important in the Spanish colony and who sometimes struggled with the secular power seated in the cathedral. The loyalty of many Cusquenos to that chapel and the image of the divine child continues important even until the present time and also manifests itself in the importance of the Manuel in Christmas celebration. It can be seen in this way how the people of Cusco, especially the Incas, struggled to develop as a legitimate power and how they struggled against the weight in the Spanish colony, especially  the Creoles who the Spanish thought to dominate.

There are descendants of the noble families who live in the city, although the Spaniards removed them from their fields and tried to diminish them. They remain important in the social and political life of the city. The Spaniards took many of the nobles and passed them and their families to San Sebastian and San Jerónimo where they still live and are important. They are very active as Incas in the life of the society of Cusco. Santiago is the area that was more Hispanicized. The Spaniards, cut the Huacypata of Rejoice and stopped the flow of water when they built houses on the now channelized Saphy.

Sunset in Cusco (Walter Coraza Morveli)
Sunset in Cusco (Walter Coraza Morveli)

Last year, when they repaved the streets, the water flows all that came to light.  The grids of finely chopped stones that went down towards the river were visible and demonstrated the importance of water worship.

There are explanations of that with photos in the corner of the Avenue El Sol and Mantas, and also in the Middle Street. They tried to make a good Spanish city, with designs that came from Seville. That is why the architectural form is of the Andalusian and a Moorish colonial city. Nevertheless, beneath the Spanish overlay, always beats the city Inca, whose name Cusco was a symbol and it continues being, in all Tawantinsuyo, the unit of four parts. It is always spoken of tunnels and other forms of direct communication with that city and ritual center, spiritual,  so important to administration, although now it is subordinated to Peru and to the city of Lima. Cusco Incaico continues beating with life.

The stone and monument to the hero Tupac Amaru, whose name refers to his Inca ancestors and Amaru, a cosmic snake that passes from one world to another, as the Incas do not leave, fought against the viceroyalty and almost achieved an early independence for Peru. It was not so, but it did shake the regime of Spaniards and Incas (curacas) who were its allies that continues to influence some two hundred and fifty years later. They dismembered him in the Plaza de Armas and serves as a symbol in present-day Cusco of a city and a people that is not forgotten. The Inca influence is maintained, despite the power of Lima, with latent strength and independence. It is a national symbol  of the indigenous claim movement. It has died but continues with force and life in the passion of the cusqueños and of the Andinos in general.

In the corner of Mantas and the Avenue of the Sun is the University San Antonio Abad, stands the University Paraninfo, on what was the Amarucancha, (that is to say the field of amaru, the snake). It was one of the first universities in America and demonstrates the importance that Cusco exerted in those years. It remains important as one of the most famous Peruvian traditional universities.  The wall of the Paraninfo is where public notices  are made and information is placed to draw attention to the public. Now many Cusquenos are taking the teachings of the ancestors even further and are opting for Andean traditions, including offerings to the land and the apus, and the use of master plants along with the teachings of nature.

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