Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Famous sites in and around Cusco

Some pictures and history of the famous sites in and around Cusco.
The Basilica Cathedral of Cusco as we see it today was completed in 1668.  It was built where the palace of Inca Wirancocha once stood.  Much of the stone was from the Inca site of Sassyhauman, which Francisco Pizarro destroyed.  I did tour the inside of the cathedral, but no pictures were allowed.  There were many paintings and lots of intricate filegree work.  Very ornate like most cathedrals.

The second church on the plaza is Compania de Jesus, built by the Jesuits in 1571 during the last rule of  the unconquered Inca Empire.  The original church was destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt as it is seen here in 1650.  The original church was built on the panaca palace of Inca Huayna Capac. 

I couldn't get any good pictures of the other side of the Sun Temple because of the narrow streets, but this is the backside of the Church of Santa Domingo, built on the site of the Inca Temple of the Sun or Quorikancha.   The Sun Temple was one of the holiest sites in the Inca empire, where only the priests were allowed.  The Convent and Church of Santa Domingo was built in 1534 on top of the site of the Sun Temple to demonstrate destruction and suppression of the ancient cult.  When it was the Temple of the Sun, much of the floors and walls were covered in sheets of gold.  An earthquake in 1950 uncovered the original Inca foundations and has since been excavated and can now be seen by travelers visiting Peru.

The inside square of the church.

Some of the Inca foundations and walls.  Some walls have been replicated, yet todays masons cannot equal the quality of the Inca builders.

The Inca builders used no morter, yet the blocks are fitted so tightly together, a sheet of paper cannot be inserted.  The Inca also built earthquake proof buildings, which is why many of the Inca buildings are still standing.  Also, the Inca buildings only had thatch roofs, which had to be replaced every few year.  The reason why more walls of the structures are standing is due to the Spanish using the Inca buildings for blocks to build their own churches.

Some of what made these buildings so sturdy was how the blocks used cutouts to be fitted together.  This kept them from sagging or falling easily.

This is some original mural Inca mural plastered over their stone walls.  It is now under glass to keep it from deteriorating.

Located on a hill above Cusco valley, this was the temple for the common people.  Because of its location and immense terrace walls it has been referred to as a fortress, but was designed by the Inca for ceremonial activities and also contained many storage rooms and the Inca considered it to be a Royal House of the Sun.  It is also theorized the very top had a three story cistern which provided water through a complex system of aquaducts down to the Cusco valley.  Saqsaywaman was completed approximately 1508.

Only the bottom walls and terraces are left today.

One of the great rock walls, leading the Spanish to call this a fortress.

Indication of the aquaduct system.

More of the aquaduct.

The large center ring was considered to have been built as a cistern to collect and hold water.

A picture looking down on the ruins.

The ruins overlook the Cusco valley.

These locals have full size Alpaca which they would love for you to pay to have a picture taken with them.

Next stop was a visit with a local curandero (medicine man) for a healing ceremony. 

Here he takes various items representing the things of the earth.  Then he wraps it up in a paper/cloth and ties it up in preparation for the ceremony.

Each of us came up individually and he patted us with it three times while chanting.

When everyone had been blessed the package was taken and burned, allowing its contents to be returned to the earth.  Again, these people consider themselves good catholics, yet they continue to partake in their traditional pagan ceremonies as well.

Next stop was for our home hosted lunch. Three generations live in this house.  

Our hosts.  The young lady on the right is also a guide.

The main dish for today is guinea pig.  Guinea pig is considered a favorite dish of the Andes people.  They usually have it for all holidays and special occasions.  They only served one for our entire group, enough so everyone could get a taste.  If they were serving this for a meal for themselves, every person would be served their own individual guinea pig.  I did try it.  Didn't like it much.  Lots of small bones, not much meat and a sweet tasting meat.  Most of the others liked it better than me.  It can be ordered in most of the finer restaurants in the area.

The next blog will be the journey to Machu Picchu.

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