Cusco and Machu Picchu, Peru

According to Naturegnosis, Cusco is a city in southwestern Peru. Located in the Urubamba Valley in the Andes at an altitude of more than 3500 m above sea level. Cusco is called the historical or archaeological capital of America. And UNESCO declared it a cultural heritage of mankind.

Cusco is the capital of the Inca empire, one of the most ancient and unusual cities in the world: the foundations of houses and churches were carved in the surrounding mountains by the Incas and have a long history. According to legend, Cuzco – the Holy City and the capital of the Tahuantinsuyo Empire (translated from Quechua “four directions of the world”) – was founded in the 11th – 12th centuries AD. Manco Capac, the first Inca to come out of Lake Titicaca. Cusco means “navel of the earth” in the Quechua language. And he really was such – in the XV century. this powerful state subjugated part of the territory of modern Ecuador, Bolivia, northern Chile, part of Argentina and stretched from south to north for almost 5000 km. The Inca Empire was a marvelous example of socio-political organization, architecture, hydraulic engineering, medicine and agriculture.

The conquistadors, having captured the city in 1533, settled in the palaces that once belonged to the Incas. The Spaniards tried to completely destroy the traces of the “pagan” culture, but they did not succeed. Therefore, buildings had to be erected on the foundations of the Incas, often using huge stones carved by the famous Inca masons for construction. The Spaniards adopted the structure of the old city, building churches on the site of Inca temples, and housing for the conquerors on the site of palaces. During the colonial period, Cusco was a prosperous city thanks to agriculture, mining and trade with Spain. Many churches and monasteries were built, as well as a cathedral, a university, and an archbishopric.

Today’s Cusco is a modern city with a population of 140,000 and rail, air and bus connections. Red tiled roofs and cobbled streets give this ancient city its unique flavor. The city is inhabited by descendants of the Incas who speak the Quechua language. Folk markets and multi-colored national clothes create a contrast with the wonderful colonial churches and squares.

Machu Picchu (literally “old peak”) is sometimes referred to as the “lost city of the Incas”. This city was created as a sacred mountain haven by the great Inca ruler Pachacutec a century before the conquest of his empire, that is, approximately in 1440, and functioned until 1532, when the Spaniards invaded the territory of the Inca empire. In 1532, all its inhabitants mysteriously disappeared.
For more than 400 years, this city was forgotten and abandoned. It was discovered by an American researcher from Yale University, Professor Hiram Bingham on July 24, 1911.

The city is located on top of a mountain range, at an altitude of 2057 meters above the valley of the Urubamba River in modern Peru.
Machu Picchu consists of three zones: sacred, residential and aristocratic. In total, there are 140 different structures in the city: temples, altars, parks, residences, houses. All the buildings of the city were built using the traditional Inca technique: huge polished stones of the correct shape fit so tightly together without any mortar that even a knife is not able to penetrate the junction. It remains a mystery how the Incas moved and hoisted multi-ton stone blocks on top of each other: the civilization of sun worshipers did not even use wheels.
The Spanish conquistadors never made it to Machu Picchu. This city was not destroyed. But we know little about him. Why did the Incas need to build a city at an altitude of 2450 meters above sea level, so far from the center of the state? We do not know the number of inhabitants, or even its real name.

The main attractions of Cusco, associated with the culture of the Incas and their predecessors, are located in the vicinity of the city.

Sacsayhuaman is a fortress located northwest of Cusco, at an altitude of about 3500 m above sea level. According to legend, it was erected by the first Inca Manco Capac. The name translates as “a stone-colored bird of prey”. The fortress is surrounded by three parallel zigzag walls built of huge blocks of stone without the use of any bonding solution. The complex also includes the stone “throne of the Inca”, 21 bastions, over which powerful towers rise, each of which was able to shelter up to a thousand soldiers. Sacsayhuaman is an architectural masterpiece that can rightfully be considered the eighth wonder of the world. Scientists believe that there was an astronomical observatory and a house of reconciliation of the Incas.

Puca Pucara is a red fortress located on the road to Antisuyo and built to protect the city.

Tambo Machai – sacred baths or baths of the Incas. This archaeological complex, consisting of channels and walls with windows, is located 7 km from Cusco at an altitude of 3700 m above sea level. The complex served as the center of Inca water worship.

The Temple of Kenko is the center of worship and religious ceremonies of the Incas. The temple is a limestone rock covered with symbolic images of a snake, puma and condor. Dedicated to the Earth Goddess.

Pisac – the Inca citadel at the top of the mountain range and the town at its base. Traditional Indian bazaars are arranged on the Main Square, where they sell souvenirs, corn, exotic fruits from the jungle, various spices, ceramics, and textiles. On Sundays, you can hear the traditional mass in Quechua – the language of the ancient Incas – with the participation of Warajok (Indian alcalde – judge of the district).

Ollantaytambo is a giant pyramid city, an archaeological park, a stone fortress located in the Sacred Valley. This complex was a huge social, administrative, religious, military and agricultural center during the Inca Empire. At the top of the Ollantaytambo pyramid is a huge array of 7 stone monoliths, carefully polished and fitted to each other. The lateral valley, extending from Ollantaytambo into the mountains, is very rich in various kinds of ruins and Inca objects. Later, the Spaniards turned the city into a fortification.

Cusco is located 1130 km from Lima (flight takes 55 minutes), 390 km from Pune (travel takes 10 hours by train and 6 hours by bus), 520 km from Arequipa (flight takes 35 minutes, bus ride – 10 hours). ).

There are two seasons: dry (May to October) and wet (November to April). In Cusco, there are sharp fluctuations between day and night temperatures. In the dry season, the average temperature per day reaches +8…+11 C, it is cold early in the morning and in the evening (there are frosts at night). The wet season is up to +28 C during the day, +10 C at night.
You can go to Cusco at any time of the year. However, the best time to visit is from May to October.

Pace. air, C 19 19 19 20 20 19 19 19 20 21 21 21
Precipitation, mm 160 133 108 44 9 2 4 8 22 47 79 120

Machu Picchu, Peru