Peru 08 - Cusco and the Inti Raymi festival
Jul 20, 2008Public
Photo: Once capital of the Inca empire, today's Cusco (at least the older part) is a charming Spanish colonial city with narrow cobblestone streets, overhanging balconies, and red tile roofs. At an altitude of over 11,000 ft., it is also one of the world's highest cities. This is the main square, the Plaza de Armas, with the Cathedral (left) and Jesuit headquarters (right).
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Photo: Many Cusco buildings are built on a foundation of Inca stonework.
Photo: Nowhere in Peru did we see dogs tied up. They all seemed happy, did not bark, and went about their business pretty much oblivious of people.
Photo: One of the first things Edgar told us about Peru was "if you don't work, you don't eat." This woman and her llama make a living by posing for photos. We were happy to oblige.
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Photo: Cusco is full of cars, almost all small taxis. These Daewoos seem to be the most popular. You can ride anywhere in town for a dollar or two. There are no meters. We never had to wait more than 30 seconds for one to stop for us. Maybe this is the answer to our urban transportation problems!
Photo: Cusco is full of museums. Without exception, they do not allow photos to be taken inside. But I just had to cheat when I saw these bathroom signs in one of the art museums we visited ...
Photo: Edgar took us to the Qoricancha, the Inca temple on top of which a Spanish church was built. Wikipedia says: "The Coricancha, originally named Inti Kancha ('Temple of the Sun') was the most important temple in the Inca Empire, dedicated primarily to Inti, the Sun God. It was one of the most revered and respected temples of the city of Cusco, Peru. The walls and floors were once covered in sheets of solid gold, and the courtyard was filled with golden statues. Spanish reports tell of its opulence that was 'fabulous beyond belief'. Most of the gold collected to fill the ransom room for the Inca Atahualpa was collected from Coricancha."
Photo: "The Church of Santo Domingo was built on the site, using the ruined foundations of the temple that was flattened by the Spanish in the 17th century, and is a fine example of where Inca stonework has been incorporated into the structure of a colonial building. Major earthquakes have severely damaged the church, but the Inca stone walls, built out of huge, tightly-interlocking blocks of stone, still stand thanks to the sophisticated stone masonry. Nearby is an underground archaeological site museum containing a number of interesting pieces, including mummies, textiles and sacred idols."
Photo: The first part of Inti Raymi festival will take place on these old Inca walls and the grounds below.
Photo: Next we visit Saqsaywaman, above Cusco ...Wikipedia says: "Some believe the walls were a form of fortification, while others believe it was only used to form the head of the Puma that Sacsayhuamán along with Cuzco form when seen from above. Like much Inca stonework, there is still mystery surrounding how they were constructed. The structure is built in such a way that a single piece of paper will not fit between many of the stones. This precision, combined with the rounded corners of the limestone blocks, the variety of their interlocking shapes, and the way the walls lean inward, is thought to have helped the ruins survive devastating earthquakes in Cuzco.

The Spanish harvested a large quantity of rock from the walls of the structure to build churches in Cuzco, which is why the walls are in perfect condition up to a certain height, and missing above that point."
Photo: Tour guides are fond of telling tourists that Saqsaywaman is prounced "sexy woman." Check out this stonework. Some of these stones are HUGE.
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