Monday, 25 November 2013

Cusco and El Valle Sagrado.

Well, I've just gotten back from a trip to Cusco, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Puno and Lake Titicaca. It was more amazing than I could have ever imagined and I can't wait to share my adventures with you all! 

First up is Cusco and surrounds. Cusco was the capital of the Incan Empire up until the Spanish conquest in the early 1500s (and not just the name of the emperor in 'The Emperor's New Groove'). Thus, not only the city itself, but also its surrounds, is rich in a strange fusion of Incan architecture and beliefs mixed with those of the Spanish conquistadors. There is no shortage of Incan ruins around the city, each with their own special purpose and design: 


A site home to some large temples overlooking Cusco constructed using giant rocks, Saqsaywaman was also used as a battleground during the Spanish conquest. You can still wander through the stone passageways and underground tunnels used by the Incas today, as well as slide down the smooth rock faces like a giant slippery dip! 


An Incan citadel constructed on a steep mountain, Pisac will take your breath away in more ways than one. The hike up to the Intihuatana (Incan astronomical building, meaning 'hitching post of the sun' in Quechua) at the top is exhausting, but definitely worth it. From above, you get the most spectacular views of the Incan terracing used for cultivating corn and potatoes and the valley below. 


Used as both a religious and battle complex, Ollantaytambo was one of the most important battlegrounds during the Spanish conquest. The Incas successfully used this steep mountain-side temple as a fortress during the rule of Manco Inca (literally meaning 'important Inca') to hold off the Spaniards, showering them with arrows and spears from above and flooding the lower terraces to bog down their horses. An impressive sight to see, even today.


While Moray may seem like the Incas' attempt at creating crop circles, the site was actually used as a testing site for crops. The Incas used the circled terracing to discover which types of crops grew better in different temperatures (as the lower terraces had a cooler temperature than the higher ones). The site also provides a breathtaking view of the Cordillera Blanca of the Andes mountains. It was here that I also learnt to play the Incan concha, used ceremonially and to attract attention.

Well, that's the surrounding areas of Cusco and the Sacred Valley - next up, the city itself!

Photos by Tami Piovesan, Henry Malaga and myself.

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