Sunday, July 10, 2011


Liz and I flew to Cuzco last Tuesday (July 5th), arriving late in the morning. 

One of the best things about Cuzco is, well, that it´s Cuzco - a modern city superimposed upon a Spanish colonial  city built atop the capital of the Inca empire.   Everywhere one looks in the downtown portion of town, there are vestiges of the city´s past visible: colonial mansions and churches, Inca walls and foundations, the layout of the streets - even the entrance to our hotel.

Hotel Rumi Punku

 At the heart of ancient Cuzco lay the twin plazas of Aucaypata and Cusipata, divided by the Saphy river, which was paved over in ancient times and still runs under the city.  The two plazas thus made up a single large open space.  Aucaypata (the Plaza of War) was the site for state ceremonies and became the current Plaza de Armas.  

Plaza de Armas, with the Church of the Company of Jesus visible

Of Cusipata all that remains is a small square a block from the Plaza de Armas, still known as the "Plaza of Joy" -  the Plaza Regocijo.

Plaza Regocijo

Surrounding the ancient, and modern square, were structures that housed the mansions of the Inca nobility, and the Aqllawasi, a sort of convent where  "chosen women" served the Inca and the state religion by brewing chicha corn beer and weaving fine cloth.

On our first day in town, Liz and I wandered those streets, many of which still bear their Inca names, soaking in the sights and the history of it all.

We walked down Hatun Rumiyoq, the Street of the Large Stones, admiring the walls of the former palace of the Inka Pachacutiq, and down Loreto Kiqllu (formerly known as Intiqkiqllu, the Street of the Sun) which is lined with some of the finest stonework in Cuzco, in the walls of the former Aqllawasi (which was turned into the Convent of Santa Catalina).

12-Angle Stone, in the wall of the former Palace of the Inka  Pachacutiq, on Hatun Rumiyoq

Hatun Rumiyoq

Old Archbishop's Palace, erected atop the foundations of Pachacutiq's palace

Convent of Santa Catalina
Basilica of La Merced

Street of the Seven Snakes

Note: Edited to add a few more photos.

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