Qosqo (Cusco) proved to be a key place for the INTREPID tour, with the city being our base for several nights as we moved in and out of the Sacred Valley.
The City was once the capital of the Inca Empire. Many archaeological sites remain near Qosqo, and evidence abounds in the city of how the Spaniards strove to remove the Inca customs and worship by using stones from Inca buildings to construct churches or by building on top of existing sites, such as the Santo Domingo Convent, which is built on top of the Incan Temple of the Sun (Qoricancha).
Plaza de Armas is the main square of the city, and is surrounded by beautiful arcades, balconies and Inca wall ruins. Artists abound in the square, from painters to musicians to stone sculpturers.
Overlooking the square can be seen the first church built by the Spanish (San Cristobel) , in front of the walls of the Palace of the first Inca (Qollqampata), Manco Cápac.
The history of the Inca shows that in the 100 years after Pachacuti became Sapa Inca, the Inca Empire expanded from a few thousand people in the region of Qosqo to embrace a region from Chile to Ecuador, with millions of people under the control of the Inca. Elements of this phase of Empire can be seen in the archaeological sites above Qosqo, Tambomachay, Puku pukara, Q’enko, and Saksaywaman. Macchu Picchu is also thought to be built during this expansionary period of the Inca.
Qosqo is well known for its jewellery and a visit to a Silversmith was well received. He explained the stones he used in his settings and why silver and gold need to be combined with other metals to produce enduring settings.
The Coca leaf museum was also interesting as it explained why the Coca leaf is important for cultures living at altitude. The Museum also highlighted the more sinister uses of an extract from the leaf (cocaine).