Trip Start Jun 02, 2005
26Trip End Aug 19, 2005
One that I do have pictures of is the Qorikancha and Iglesia de Santo Domingo. The Qorikancha was an incredibly important Inca building which included the sun and moon temples, housed thousands of priests, served as an astronomical observatory, and held the captured idols of conquered tribes as a sort of blackmail to discourage rebellion. Smart Incas! The Spaniards built a church on top of it (culture killing Spaniards!), but a 1950 earthquake revealed the Inca building below. Today it a museum enclosing the remains of the Qorikancha, an art gallery, and is attached to a new church
Yesterday afternoon I visited the Inca site of Sacsayhuaman. It is located on a hill just outside of town. It is thought that Cusco was originally constructed by the Inca in the shape of a puma, and Sacsayhuaman was the head of the puma. It is considered a fortress, but it does have many non-defensive buildings as well. Because of its enormous plaza area surrounded by terraced hills offering an ideal view, some also theorize it was a center for large ceremonial festivities. Only a fraction of the site exists today because the Spanish used it as a quarry. Still, even in its skeletal form, it is impressive and mind boggling. The Inca used massive stones without mortar to construct their walls. The stones were carved and perfectly fitted together like a puzzle. Investigators marvel at how they managed such a difficult task without the use of metal tools. The same construction technique was used for the important buildings in Cusco (the commoners lived in adobe houses). Some can still be found along a few of Cusco's streets, but much has been devastated by multiple earthquakes. The Spanish (and even locals today) tried to imitate the Inca architecture, but even with metal technology the lesser quality work is easily detected.
On a hill next to Sacsayhuaman stands Cristo Blanco, a large ivory statue of Jesus with outstretched arms, protecting over the city. A plaque reads in Quechua, ¨Alli n kay kaypacha wiñaypaqkachun,¨ or ¨Peace prevails in the world.¨ A nice message. I like how they have conveniently forgotten how many indigenous people were killed in order to expand the land of Christians.
Well, tomorrow I head back to Lima. During my last few days in Peru I plan to visit my friend Namita, who is currently participating in her Peace Corps training just outside of Lima, and perhaps meet up with a few of my Peruvian friends from the dig for one last hooray. Then I fly to Mexico to spend two weeks traveling with Dane. Or we may disappear and never come back. We'll see.