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Cusco, the city and the history

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Center of the world in the Andean cosmology and principal city of the Colony, Cusco is a city shaped by the Inca and the European worlds. Considered one of the architectural gems of the world, it constitutes an excellent example of the amalgam of cultures that forms the rich composition of our nation.

Cusco is one of those cities where it possible to find a living past, a history suspended among its walls and temples and even including its people. Here, the expansion of the Tawantinsuyo started 800 years ago. The Incas venerated it as the 'navel of the universe', the sacred center, from where the roads that extended from it united the four suyos or arms of the Empire that were at the same time the four corners of the world. From this city, the rulers decided the fate of an immense, diverse, and singular nation, and in its honor, they constructed majestic palaces that have resisted the passage of time.

Nevertheless, the history of Cusco starts much earlier than the arrival of the Incas. Thousands of years before our time, men from the Marcavalle culture established themselves in the Huantay River valley, where later they raised the city, and prospered until the appearance of the Wari culture that flourished between the sixth and seventh centuries. The Incas did not appear until the year 1400 and, in the short period of a little more than one hundred years, transformed the small conquered kingdom into an empire that extended from the central valleys of Chile to Ecuador and Colombia to the north.

The birth of an empire
Lost somewhere in the darkness of history are the true foundations of Cusco; however, in his Royal Commentaries written in approximately 1609, the chronicler Garcilaso de la Vega, who was of mixed descent, makes a reference to two legends that try to explain the origin of the city.

The first reference made is to the birth of two mythological beings, the Children of the Sun Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo, brother and sister as well as husband and wife, who emerged from the depths of Lake Titicaca in the Peruvian Altiplano with the mission to create the Tawantinsuyu. The other story speaks of four brothers, along with their respective sisterwives, leaving a mountain in Paccaritambo close to Paruro in the southern part of Cusco with the purpose to find lands where they could establish themselves and set up an empire. Only two siblings fulfilled their mandate: Ayar Manco and Mama Ocllo.

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