|Cusco / Cuzco (Spanish)
Qusqu / Qosqo (Quechua)
Top: Plaza de Armas, Middle left: Qurikancha, Middle right: Aerial view of Cusco, Bottom left: Saksaywaman, Bottom right: Cathedral of Cusco
|Nickname(s): La Ciudad Imperial (The Imperial City)|
Districts of Cusco
|• Mayor||Luis Florez|
|• Total||385.1 km2 (148.7 sq mi)|
|Elevation||3,399 m (11,152 ft)|
|• Density||1,100/km2 (2,900/sq mi)|
|Time zone||PET (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||PET (UTC-5)|
|Official name: City of Cuzco|
|Designated:||1983 (7th session)|
|Region:||Latin America and the Caribbean|
Cusco //, often spelled Cuzco (Spanish: Cuzco, [ˈkusko]; Quechua: Qusqu or Qosqo, IPA: [ˈqɔsqɔ]), is a city in southeastern Peru, near the Urubamba Valley of the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cusco Region as well as the Cuzco Province. In 2013, the city had a population of 435,114. Located on the eastern end of the Knot of Cuzco, its elevation is around 3,400 m (11,200 ft).
Cusco was the site of the historic capital of the Inca Empire and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1983 by UNESCO. It is a major tourist destination and receives almost 2 million visitors a year. It is designated as the Historical Capital of Peru by the Constitution of Peru.
- 1 Spelling and etymology
- 2 History
- 3 Geography
- 4 Main sights
- 5 Population
- 6 Food
- 7 Industry
- 8 International relations
- 9 Gallery
- 10 In modern culture
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
Spelling and etymology
The indigenous name of this city is Qusqu. Although it was used in Quechua, its origin has been found in the Aymara language. The word itself originated in the phrase qusqu wanka ('Rock of the owl'), attending to the foundational myth of the Ayar Siblings. According to this legend, Ayar Awqa (Ayar Auca) got wings and flew to the site of the future city and transformed into a rock to mark the possession of the land by his ayllu ('linage').
"Go fly over there (they say his wings were born), and by sitting down there take possession in the very seat where that milestone appears, because we'll then settle and live there". Ayar Auca, after hearing the words of his brother, rose on his wings and went to that place Manco Cápac commanded him, he sat there and turned himself into stone and became a possession mark, which in the ancient language of this valley is called cozco, therefore this place remained with the name of Cozco until today.—Juan Diez de Betanzos, Suma y narración de los incas.
The Spanish conquistadors adopted the local name, transliterating it into Spanish as Cuzco or less often Cozco. Cuzco was the standard spelling on official documents and chronicles in colonial times, though Cusco was also used. Cuzco, pronounced as in 16th-century Spanish, seems to have been a close approximation to the Cusco Quechua pronunciation of the name at the time; both Spanish and Quechuan pronunciation have evolved since then, with the result that the Spanish pronunciation of 'z' is no longer close to the Quechuan pronunciation of the consonant represented by 'z' in "Cuzco". In 1976, the city mayor signed an ordinance banning the traditional spelling and ordering the use of a new one, Cusco, in the municipality publications. Nineteen years later, in 23 June 1990, the local authorities officialized a brand new spelling instead: Qosqo.
The Killke occupied the region from 900 to 1200, prior to the arrival of the Incas in the 13th century. Carbon-14 dating of Saksaywaman, the walled complex outside Cusco, has demonstrated that the Killke culture constructed the fortress about 1100. The Inca later expanded and occupied the complex in the 13th century and after. On 13 March 2008, archaeologists discovered the ruins of an ancient temple, roadway and aqueduct system at Saksaywaman. This find plus the results of excavations in 2007, when another temple was found at the edge of the fortress, indicates religious as well as military use of the facility.
Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire (13th century-1532). Many believe that the city was planned as an effigy in the shape of a puma, a sacred animal. Under the Inca, the city had two sectors: the urin and hanan. Each was further divided to encompass two of the four provinces, Chinchasuyu (NW), Antisuyu (NE), Kuntisuyu (SW) and Qullasuyu (SE). A road led from each of these quarters to the corresponding quarter of the empire. Each local leader was required to build a house in the city and live part of the year in Cusco, but only in the quarter that corresponded to the quarter of the empire in which he had territory. After the rule of Pachacuti, when an Inca died, his title went to one son and his property was given to a corporation controlled by his other relatives (the process was called split inheritance). Each title holder had to build a new house and add new lands to the empire, in order to own the land his family needed to maintain after his death.
According to Inca legend, the city was built by Sapa Inca Pachacuti, the man who transformed the Kingdom of Cuzco from a sleepy city-state into the vast empire of Tawantinsuyu. Archaeological evidence, however, points to a slower, more organic growth of the city beginning before Pachacuti. The city was constructed according to a definite plan, and two rivers were channeled around the city. Archaeologists such as Larry Coben have suggested the city plan was replicated at other sites throughout the empire.
The city fell to the sphere of Huáscar in the division of the empire after the death of Wayna Qhapaq in 1527. It was captured by the generals of Atahualpa in April 1532 in the Battle of Quipaipan. Nineteen months later, Spanish explorers invaded the city (see battle of Cuzco).
It is unknown how Cusco was built, or how its stones were quarried.
Cusco after the Spanish invasion
The first Spaniards arrived in the city on 15 November 1533. Francisco Pizarro officially arrived in Cusco on 23 March 1534, renaming it the "Very noble and great city of Cuzco". The many buildings constructed after the Spanish invasion have a mixture of Spanish influence with Inca indigenous architecture, including the Santa Clara and San Blas neighborhoods. The Spanish destroyed many Inca buildings, temples and palaces. They used the remaining walls as bases for the construction of a new city.
The city was retaken from the Spanish during the Siege of Cuzco of 1536 by Manco Inca Yupanqui, a leader of the Sapa Inca. Although the siege lasted ten months, it was ultimately unsuccessful. Manco's forces were able to reclaim the city for only a few days. Throughout the conflict and years of the Spanish colonization of the Americas many of Inca citizens and warriors succumbed to smallpox and died.
Cusco stands on layers of cultures, with the Tawantinsuyu (old Inca Empire) built on Killke structures, and the Spanish having replaced indigenous temples with Catholic churches, and palaces with mansions for the invaders.
Cusco was the center for the Spanish colonization and spread of Christianity in the Andean world. It became very prosperous thanks to agriculture, cattle raising, and mining, as well as its trade with Spain. The Spanish colonists constructed many churches and convents, as well as a cathedral, university and Archbishopric. Just as the Inca built on top of Killke structures, Spanish buildings were based on the massive stone walls built by the Inca.
A major earthquake on 21 May 1950 caused severe localised damage in Cusco. The Dominican Priory and Church of Santo Domingo, which were built on top of the impressive Qurikancha (Temple of the Sun), were among the colonial era buildings affected. The city's Inca architecture, however, withstood the earthquake. Many of the old Inca walls were at first thought to have been lost after the earthquake, but the granite retaining walls of the Qurikancha were exposed, as well as those of other ancient structures throughout the city. Restoration work at the Santo Domingo complex was conducted in such a way as to expose the Inca masonry formerly obscured by the super-structure without compromising the integrity of the colonial heritage. Cusco had also been the center of a major earthquake in 1650, and many of the buildings damaged in 1950 had been impacted by an earthquake only nine years previously.
After Peru declared its independence in 1821, Cusco maintained its importance within the administrative structure of the country. Upon independence, the government created the Department of Cuzco, maintaining authority over territory extending to the Brazilian border. Cusco was made capital of the department; subsequently it became the most important city in the south-eastern Andean region.
- In 1933, the Congress of Americanists met in La Plata, Argentina and declared the city as the Archeological Capital of the Americas.
- In 1978, the 7th Convention of Mayors of Great World Cities met in Milan, Italy and declared Cusco a Cultural Heritage of the World.
- In 1983, UNESCO, in Paris, France declared the city a World Heritage Site. The Peruvian government declared it the Tourism Capital of Peru and Cultural Heritage of the Nation.
- In 2007, the New7Wonders Foundation designated Machu Picchu one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, following a worldwide poll.
A 1950 earthquake shook the city, causing the destruction of more than one third of the city's structures. Later, the city began to establish itself as a focal point for tourism and began to receive a greater number of tourists.
Since the 1990s, tourism has increased. Currently, Cusco is the most important tourist destination in Peru. Under the administration of mayor Daniel Estrada Pérez, a staunch supporter of the Academia Mayor de la Lengua Quechua, between 1983 and 1995 the Quechua name Qosqo was officially adopted for the city.
The city of Cusco extends throughout the Watanay river valley. Located on the eastern end of the Knot of Cuzco, its elevation is around 3,300 m (10,800 ft). North is the Willkapampa mountain range with 4,000 m – 6,000 m high mountains. The highest peak is Sallqantay (6,271 m) about 60 km (37.28 mi) northwest of Cusco.
Cusco has a subtropical highland climate (Köppen Cwb). Its climate is generally dry and temperate, with two defined seasons. The dry season lasts from April to October, with abundant sunshine, and occasional nighttime freezes: July is the coolest month with an average of 9.6 °C (49.3 °F). The wet season lasts from November to March, with night frost less common: November averages 13.4 °C (56.1 °F). Although frost and hail are common, snow is virtually unheard of. The only snowfall ever recorded was in June 1911.
|Climate data for Cusco|
|Record high °C (°F)||27.8
|Average high °C (°F)||18.8
|Average low °C (°F)||6.6
|Record low °C (°F)||1.1
|Precipitation mm (inches)||145.3
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)||18||13||11||8||3||2||2||2||7||8||12||16||102|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||143||121||170||210||239||228||257||236||195||198||195||158||2,350|
|Source #1: World Meteorological Organisation (UN), BBC Weather|
|Source #2: Danish Meteorological Institute (sun and relative humidity), Sistema de Clasificación Bioclimática Mundial (extremes)|
Although the original Inca city was said to have been founded in the 11th century, more recently scholars have established that Inca did not occupy the area until after 1200 AD. Before them the indigenous people of the Killke culture built the walled complex of Saksaywaman about 1100. In November 2008, archeological researchers found that the Killke also built a major temple near Saksaywaman, as well as an aqueduct (Pukyus) and roadway connecting prehistoric structures. Saksaywaman was expanded by the Inca.
The Spanish explorer Pizarro sacked much of the Inca city in 1535. Remains of the palace of the Incas, Qurikancha (the Temple of the Sun), and the Temple of the Virgins of the Sun still stand. In addition, Inca buildings and foundations in some cases have proved to be stronger than the foundations built in present-day Peru. Among the most noteworthy Spanish colonial buildings of the city is the Cathedral of Santo Domingo, Cusco.
Less-visited ruins include: Inka Wasi, the highest of all Inca sites at 3,980 m (13,060 ft); Willkapampa the capital of the Inca after the capture of Cusco; the sculpture garden at Ñusta Hisp'ana (aka Chuqip'allta, Yuraq Rumi); Tipón with working water channels in wide terraces; as well as Willkaraqay, Patallaqta, Chuqik'iraw, Moray, Vitcos, and many others.
Cusco's main stadium Estadio Garcilaso de la Vega was the site of South America's continental soccer championship, the Copa América 2004 held in Peru. The stadium is home to one of the country's most successful soccer clubs, Cienciano.
The city is served by Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport.
Because of its antiquity and importance, the city center retains many buildings, plazas, streets and churches of pre-Columbian times and colonial buildings, which led to his being declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983. Among the main sights of the city are:
Barrio de San Blas
This neighborhood housing artisans, workshops and craft shops, is one of the most picturesque sites in the city. Its streets are steep and narrow with old houses built by the Spanish over important Inca foundations. It has an attractive square and the oldest parish church in Cusco, built in 1563, which has a carved wooden pulpit considered the epitome of Colonial era woodwork in Cusco.
The Quechua name of this neighborhood is Tuq'ukachi which means the opening of the salt
This street is the most visited by tourists. On the street Hatun Rumiyoq ("the one with the big stone") was the palace of Inca Roca, which was converted to the Archbishop's residence.
Along this street that runs from the Plaza de Armas to the Barrio de San Blas, one can see the Stone of Twelve Angles, which is viewed as marvel of ancient stonework and has become emblematic of the city's history.
Convent and Church of la Merced
Its foundation dates from 1536. The first complex was destroyed by the earthquake of 1650 and the rebuilding of the church and convent was completed in 1675.
Also on view is an elaborate monstrance made of gold and gemstones that weighs 22 kg (49 lb) and is 130 cm (51.18 in) in height.
The first cathedral built in Cusco is the Iglesia del Triunfo, built in 1539 on the foundations of the Palace of Viracocha Inca. Today, this church is an auxiliary chapel of the Cathedral.
The main basilica cathedral of the city was built between 1560 and 1664. Stone was used as the main material, which was extracted from nearby quarries, although some blocks of red granite were taken from the fortress of Saksaywaman.
This great cathedral presents late-Gothic, Baroque, and plateresque interiors and has one of the most outstanding examples of colonial goldwork. Its carved wooden altars are also important.
The city developed a distinctive style of painting known as the "Cuzco School", and the cathedral houses a major collection of local artists of the time. The cathedral is known for a Cusco School painting of the Last Supper depicting Jesus and the twelve apostles feasting on guinea pig, a traditional Andean delicacy.
The cathedral is the seat of the Archdiocese of Cuzco.
Plaza de Armas
Known as the "Square of the warrior" in the Inca era, this plaza has been the scene of several important events in the history of this city, such as the proclamation by Francisco Pizarro in the conquest of Cuzco.
Similarly, the Plaza de Armas was the scene of the death of Túpac Amaru II, considered the indigenous leader of the resistance.
The Spanish built stone arcades around the plaza which endure to this day. The main cathedral and the Church of La Compañía both open directly onto the plaza.
Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesus
This church (Church of the Society of Jesus), whose construction was initiated by the Jesuits in 1576 on the foundations of the Amarucancha or the palace of the Inca ruler Wayna Qhapaq, is considered one of the best examples of colonial baroque style in the Americas.
Its façade is carved in stone and its main altar is made of carved wood covered with gold leaf. It was built over an underground chapel and has a valuable collection of colonial paintings of the Cusco School.
Qurikancha and Convent of Santo Domingo
The Qurikancha ("golden place") was the most important sanctuary dedicated to the Sun God (Inti) at the time of the Inca Empire.According to ancient chronicles written by Garcilaso de la Vega (chronicler), Qurikancha was said to have featured a large solid golden disc that was studded with precious stones and represented the Inca Sun God - Inti. Spanish chroniclers describe the Sacred Garden in front of the temple as a garden of golden plants with leaves of beaten gold, stems of silver, solid gold corn-cobs and 20 life-size llamas and their herders all in solid gold.
The temple was destroyed by its Spanish invaders who, as they plundered, were determined to rid the city of its wealth, idolaters and shrines. Nowadays, only a curved outer wall and partial ruins of the inner temple remain at the site.
With this structure as a foundation, colonists built the Convent of Santo Domingo (St. Dominic) in the Renaissance style. The building, with one baroque tower, exceeds the height of many other buildings in this city.
Inside is a large collection of paintings from the Cuzco School.
Until the late 18th century Cusco was the most populous city in the continent, even more than Lima. But because of the great revolution of Túpac Amaru II in 1780, the white population migrated to Arequipa, considered safer from a possible new uprising. So, until the 20th century, the population was largely mestizo and indigenous, but now the white population has grown significantly in the city as high as 30%, as it is experiencing a demographic explosion process led by the tourism boom.
The city has a population of about 390,000 people in 2007 and 435,114 people on June the 30th 2013 according to INEI.
|Cuzco||116.22 km²||108,798*||28,476||936.1||3,399 msl|
|San Jerónimo||103.34 km²||28,856*||8,942||279.2||3,244 msl|
|San Sebastián||89.44 km²||85,472*||18,109||955.6||3,244 msl|
|Santiago||69.72 km²||66,277*||21,168||950.6||3,400 msl|
|Wanchaq||6.38 km²||54,524*||14,690||8,546.1||3,366 msl|
|*Census data conducted by INEI|
As capital to the Inca Empire, Cusco was an important agricultural region. It was a natural reserve for thousands of native Peruvian species, including around 3,000 varieties of potato cultivated by the people. Recently many fusion and neo-Andean restaurants have developed in Cusco, in which the cuisine is prepared with modern techniques and incorporates a blend of traditional Andean and international ingredients.
Twin towns and sister cities
In modern culture
- In the film The Emperor's New Groove and its spin-off animated television series The Emperor's New School, the main protagonist is "Kuzco", the young, often immature fictional emperor of the Incas.
- "Cuzco" was the name of a song on E.S. Posthumus' 2001 album Unearthed. Each song on the album was named after an ancient city.
- The Anthony Horowitz novel Evil Star takes place partly in Cusco.
- Governorate of New Castile
- Inca religion in Cusco
- Inca road system
- Iperu, tourist information and assistance
- List of archaeoastronomical sites sorted by country
- Tampukancha, Inca religious site
- Tourism in Peru
- "Constitución del Perъ de 1993". Pdba.georgetown.edu. Retrieved 22 July 2009.
- Cerrón-Palomino, Rodolfo (2007). "Cuzco: La piedra donde se posó la lechuza. Historia de un nombre.". Andina (Lima) 44: 143–174. ISSN 0259-9600.
- Carrión Ordóñez, Enrique (1993). "Cuzco, con Z". Histórica (Lima) XVII: 267–270.
- Cerrón-, Rodolfo. "Cuzco: la piedra donde se posó la lechuza. Historia de un nombre". Lexis. Año 2006, número XXX, volumen 1, pp.151-52. Consulta: 24 de mayo de 2011. <>
- Rough Guide for Cusco
- CIA factbook for Peru
- "City of Cusco – UNESCO World Heritage Centre". Whc.unesco.org. 21 August 2007. Retrieved 22 July 2009.
- "Cusco Travel Information and Travel Guide – Peru". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 22 July 2009.
- Kelly Hearn, "Ancient Temple Discovered Among Inca Ruins", National Geographic News, 31 March 2008, accessed 12 January 2010
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- "The history of Cusco". cusco.net<!. Retrieved 25 July 2009.
- "Koricancha Temple and Santo Domingo Convent – Cusco, Peru". Sacred-destinations.com. Retrieved 15 September 2011.
- "The Cusco, Peru, Earthquake of May 21, 1950 – ERICKSEN et al. 44 (2): 97 – Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America". Bssa.geoscienceworld.org. Retrieved 15 September 2011.
- Reuters via ABC News Australia "Opera House snubbed as new Wonders unveiled" 7 July 2007
- Andes map
- Liley, J. Ben and McKenzie, Richard L. (April 2006) "Where on Earth has the highest UV?" UV Radiation and its Effects: an update NIWA Science, Hamilton, NZ;
- "World Weather Information Service – Cuzco". UN. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
- "Average Conditions Cusco, Peru". BBC Weather. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
- Cappelen, John; Jensen, Jens. "Peru - Cuzco (pg 209)". Climate Data for Selected Stations (1931-1960) (in Danish). Danish Meteorological Institute. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
- "Peru - Cuzco" (in Spanish). Centro de Investigaciones Fitosociológicas. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
- "The Inca City of Cusco: A Fascinating Look at the Most Important City in the Inca Empire". http://www.totallylatinamerica.com/. 5 July 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
- Censo 2005 INEI
- "Cusco, Peru Bans GM Products To Protect Diversity Of Native Potatoes". scidev.net. Retrieved 21 Feb 2012.
- Guide to Peruvian Food, Cusco Reference
- "Ciudades Hermanas (Sister Cities)" (in Spanish). Municipalidad del Cusco. Retrieved 23 September 2009.
- "::Bethlehem Municipality::". bethlehem-city.org. Retrieved 10 October 2009.
- "Kraków - Miasta Partnerskie" [Kraków -Partnership Cities]. Miejska Platforma Internetowa Magiczny Kraków (in Polish). Archived from the original on 2013-07-02. Retrieved 2013-08-10.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cusco.|
Cusco travel guide from Wikivoyage