Thursday, September 24, 2009

Peru: Cusco City Tour

This is my ninth blog post about our trip to Peru.

After our first morning in Cuzco wandering around on our own, we were picked up at our hotel in a van with some other tourist to be taken on a Cuzco City Tour for the afternoon. Below is a photo out of the van window of one of the typical streets in Cuzco--although some are actually narrower.

Notice the pair of clay bulls, jars of chicha (corn beer), cross and flags on the rooftop for good luck for the household

When the Spanish conquered the Incas, they destroyed much of the inner city of Cuzco using the Inca stone blocks again to rebuild the city Spanish style. However, the ruins around the perimeter of the city were sometimes spared the destruction. Many ruins have cut stones weighing many tons which could not be moved. A typical Cuzco city tour will take you on the rim road of the city to see the Inca ruins. Our first stop was the "fortress" of Saqsayhuaman (guides will tell you it sounds almost like "sexy woman"). It is now believed this was not a fortress, but a ceremonial/religous site. It has massive cut stones at the base and walls that are formed in a lightning bolt pattern. We wish we had more time here to actually explore the ruins--maybe next trip.

Caleb at Saqsayhuaman



From Saqsayhuaman we continued along the road to the mysterious temple of Quenqo. Quenqo has a massive natural boulder that was minimally carved to look like a sacred puma, but was defaced by the Spanish. The Incas often looked for forms in the natural rock and sometimes carved them a little to help make the form more recognizable. Below you see the foundation of one temple wall where niches were formed for life size statues.

Quenqo also has a throne carved from the rock for the Inca (king) and a natural cave with a stone table carved out. It is believed the table was used to perform mummification rituals. You can see it in the photo below.

From Quenqo we went to the Inca tambo (waystation) called Tambomachay where there are irrigation channels and baths carved out of the rock.

weavings for sale along the path to Tambomachay


Fountains at Tambomachay

After leaving Tambomachay we returned to the Cuzco city center and toured the cathedral with our guide. Photos are not allowed in the cathedral. Then we went a short way through the city center to the church of Santo Domingo. Santo Domingo was built on the ruins of an Inca temple complex called Qoricancha (Koricancha). Many of the Inca ruins are still there. They proved to be too much for the Spanish to knock down. The ruins share the courtyard of the church and parts are in impeccable condition. They look crisp and new.

Interior courtyard of Santo Domingo

Qoricancha ruins

Qoricancha ruins

Dan and Caleb having dinner in a tiny little, family run restaurant in Cuzco and leaning on an Inca wall.

NOTE: If you are planning a trip to Cuzco, you will end up having to purchase a "Boleto Turistico Del Cuzco," or Cuzco tourist ticket, in order to enter most of the best known sites in the area. It's expensive and annoying, but buying individual passes is worse. The ticket is good for 10 days.

Next blog post: "The road to Machu Picchu"

Copyright 2009 photos and text. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. What an amazing country...Looks like a trip of a lifetime :)