Cusco or Cuzco or Qusqu, Peru
The next stop on my parents cruise was the port of Salaverry. Instead of exploring the city they had made the decision to fly to Cusco to experience Machu Picchu.
Cusco is located in the Urubamba Valley of the Andes Mountains and was once the capital of the Incan empire. The city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. I think the photos really show what a beautiful and historic city Cusco is.
The Spanish conquered Cusco in 1533 and built their colonial style architecture upon the ruins of the Incas. Rounded front door archways, ornamental balconies, and terracotta tile roofing make up the common characteristics of the colonial architecture found in Cusco.
The growing tourism industry in Cusco is threatening the preservation of ancient structures, which in some cases are altered or replaced by new buildings. The original building occupants are sometimes displaced and moved to the boundaries of Cusco.
The conquest of Cusco, as well as the subsequent Siege of Cusco, destroyed much of the city. Qurikancha (Temple of the Sun) was the most important Incan temple demolished by Francisco Pizarro. The Spanish built the Church of Santo Domingo in place of the temple, but left the temple’s foundations to use for their own cathedral.
Qurikancha is one of several sites where the conquering Spanish incorporated the original Inca stonework into their own colonial building structures. Major earthquakes severely damaged the church, but the Incan walls that were built out of huge interlocking stone blocks still stand due to their sophisticated masonry. Amazingly, many Incan buildings and foundations have held up to be stronger than the foundations built in present day Peru.
The Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus, or Church of the Society of Jesus, sits in the Plaza de Armas (literal translation: Weapons Square). Plaza de Armas is the common name for many city squares throughout Central and South American countries. The name comes from the standard Spanish conquistador military style of constructing and designing a city (based on a Roman grid pattern).
Cusco is located over 3000 meters above sea level which can cause altitude sickness in some people. Locals recommend drinking coca tea, made from the leaves of the coca plant, to alleviate symptoms. For more on coca tea check this out.