Cusco - Day 1
We flew from Arequipa to Cusco early morning, which is quite a spectacular ride given the height of the mountains, skipping over & around the tops. The descent into Cusco reminded us of skiing trips to Innsbruck as you fly in between the mountains sometimes no more than 5 or 600 feet above.
In the afternoon we first went to Coricancha. This site is a strange combination of Inca and colonial architecture. Like almost all of the Inca sites it too was decimated by the conquistadors when they arrived. The amazing carved stones which were fit together with internal brass clamps were torn down to be used to build churches or houses for the conquerors.
All of us in the group feel so sad that so much history and heritage was lost in these destructive years. The Catholic church at the time took the view that the natives should convert or die. The Inca people however were clever and complied to some extent...as they were forced to build the churches on their ancient holy sites. They statues and artwork contains many Inca symbols of mountain, sun and moon, so that the natives when they appeared to be coming to church to worship could actually still worship their gods.
The church realized what was going on but by then could then do little about it.
Coricancha contains a courtyard that once was lined with 700 2kg solid gold sheets plus gold llamas and golden corn. All was looted and melted down by the conquistadors. The only things that really remain are the stone chambers said to be temples to the moon, stars, rainbow and thunder. The external view has a perfectly curved 6m high wall that has stood all earthquakes since it was built while most other buildings fell.
After this tour we moved on to the Cathedral which is actually 3 churches in one. The shock of the moment was the grand picture depicting The Last Supper with the plump juicy looking roast guinea pig on the table before Christ... The sacristy contains paintings of the bishops and there is the Senor de los Tremblores. This is a crucifix that was one item being removed during the 1650 earthquake when the quake stopped, hence the name. From there we went to the pretty La Compania Jesuit church in the Plaza de Armas.
Then, as if that wasn't tiring enough, we moved on to the ruins of Sacsayhuaman, meaning 'satisfied falcon', though most visitors pronounce it as 'sexy woman'. The site is amazing, zig zag formations made with stones, one weighing over 300 tonnes. From the air, the Inca city of Cusco took the shape of a puma with the site of Sacsayhuaman as the head.
We stayed here as the sun began to set...watching the shadows chase around the ruins.
Then just as the sun was setting we went to a strange ruin called Qenko which had stone altars used for offerings and occasional human sacrifice.
So, with this is in mind we set off for dinner and sumptuous lomo chorrianna, Lindel on the other hand has guinea pig... Chewy but ok...
Tomorrow we go to the sacred valley...