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The article intends to introduce in a few paragraphs the Inca civilisation that we visited many remnants. It's a fascinating folk whose identity is still inscribed into the heart of people around the city of Cusco, in Peru. A short overview of a fallen empire.

2


History of Inca people.
The beginning

It all started on the Lake Titicaca's shore (see article 27), this sacred lake where Inca's gods appeared. Manco Cápac, the first Inca, was born on Isla del Sol. The Inca nominated the emperor of all the Incas, the living god, representing the God of the Sun on Earth. The people he gathered migrated first in southern actual Peru until they found the city of Cusco. The famous city had been found by Kilke people, an ancient civilisation that were living there between 900 A.D. and 1200 A.D. The Kilke also built in 1100 A.D. the fortress of Sacsayhuaman. But according to Inca legend, the city has been built by Sapa Inca Pachacutec, the emperor who made Cusco to become the vast empire of Tawantinsuyu.

3



The empire's expansion

Until the fifteenth century, Inca people were dominating a modest territory around Cusco. Around 1438, under the reign of the ninth Inca Pachacutec and his son Tupac Yupanqui, Inca people expanded their territories from Quito to Santiago - so a length of five thousands of kilometres. About the administrative gestion, Inca territories were split into four provinces similarly to the four districts of Cusco: Chinchasuyu (NW), Antisuyu (NE), Kuntisuyu (SW) and Qullasuyu (SE). When an Inca was dying, his title went to the first son and his properties and his goods were given to a corporation controlled by his other relatives. This process has been expanded to the whole high society (priests, nobility, ...). The process was called split inheritance. Each title holder had to build a new house and add new lands to the empire. Thus the empire's expansion was ensured. The construction of the sites in the Sacred Valley, next to Cusco, began in the 1450s. Some sites like the Machu Picchu were not finished when the Spanish arrived.

4



The fatal Civil War

And despite a fair distribution of the legacy by the eleventh Inca Huayna Cápac, his two sons argued the control of the whole empire. That's why Pizarro, the leader of the Spanish conquistadors, took advantage in 1532 of the civil war and conquered so easily the territories of the empire. The first Inca son was captured by the troops of his stepbrother Atahualca when the latest was taken prisoner and loosely executed by Pizarro. In 1533, the Spanish army entered in Cusco and conquered the city. Inca people were beaten and their capital has fallen.

5



Rebellion

Three years later, the rebel Manco Inca Yupanqui, pretending to be the heir of the throne, took control of the city... for some days, before he had to flee to the stronghold in Ollantaytambo, then in the jungle behind the Machu Picchu. Illnesses has been more lethal than Spanish people for Inca people.

6


Cusco - the mythic city of Inca people


The former capital of Inca empire stands at 3400m above see level. The Spanish destroyed all the Inca monuments and kept only the foundations to build there huge cathedrals, palaces and colleges. All of these is why the city is a historically marked place and with an own inimitable style.

7



Churches by dozens

The cathedral of Cusco, the many massive churches show all the supremacy and the power taken by religion during this era. The impious had to be converted and impressed by the power and the magnificence of the Catholics' God, and by His wonderful cathedrals challenging in extent their European counterparts.

8



Sacsayhuaman

It is a sacred hill over Cusco. A fortress have been erected there by Inca people to protect their shrine. It's also the site chosen by Pizarro and his few dozens of men to repel the unceasing Inca assaults trying to take back Cusco.
Remains of civilizations older than three thousand years had been preserved by Inca people before the arrival of the Spanish, making this site one of the most impressive in archaeology. Tunnels leading to Cusco have been found under Sacsayhuaman. From this labyrinth too, the Inca tried many times to remove Pizarro from this sacred place.

9


Religion


The Inca people inherit ancient Andean traditions, especially in their beliefs. Territories around the Andes is being particularly exposed to the elements - such as earthquakes, climate and dangers of the mountain. Andean people thus believe in nature represented gods. Inca people venerate the sun and his representative on Earth - the Inca - the moon and the stars, to which they dedicated temples.

10



Sacsayhuaman - the Sacred Rock

A thirty meters high rock lays in the middle of Sacsayhuaman's site. According to a local guide, el Maestro Hector, protector of the supernatural energies of this site, a major part of the Pachamama's powers is gathered here. The Incas sculpted on the rock the three steps representing the three worlds of their mythology. Below is the ground where we came from when we were born, in the middle our world where we live and above us, the sky we reach when we die. The Incas strongly believed in reincarnation. Thus the majestic condor dominating the sky was revered, much more than the puma living on the land or the vile snake arising soil.

11



The Temple of the Sun

There was a temple of the Sun within all villages, fortresses and high places. The god of the Sun was protecting them. We noticed the exceptional quality of the carving of stones in their ruins. Some cavities are remaining but the associated relics disappeared. The temple of the Sun, to Sacsayhuaman, is integrated into the site, while the temple of Moon is located on a hill below. The moon is symbolically dominated by the sun.

12



Q'enqo

Q'enqo is a site a little further from Cusco. It's a maze of stones, stairs and tunnels. In its center, an altar for sacrifices has been used for rites of civilizations pre-Inca then Inca. It is interesting to see the common points between the civilations of the Andean mythology, broadly adopted by the Inca.

13


Astronomy


Inca people were great worshipers of the heavenly bodies and had studied a lot solar and lunar cycles. Their constructions are dedicated to their science.

14



An astronomical observatory

The location of Machu Picchu was chosen partly for its proximity with the stars. Inca people were able to know precisely the date of the solstices. At the dawn of the winter solstice, the first sun ray passes exactly into the space between the two mountains around the city. The light reaches then a construction stone: the astronomical observatory. The Incas studied stars and the season for agriculture purposes too.

15


Incas constructions


As the region is subject to earthquakes destroying any bad construction, Inca people became masters in the stone work. If, even today, we still find their buildings standing, it's because the solidity of their buildings is extreme, resistant at any seism.

16



Pisac - the agricultural terraces

On the top of the mountain overlooking the village of Pisac was built an Inca village, its temple and its fortress. Below, we can find dozens of stone walls, sixty meters long on average, built in successive terraces to support the mountain. Their second reason to exist was linked to agriculture: they used the fertility of the well irrigated land on terraces.
According to a Machu Picchu's guide, the walls of the terraces had a third function: to be aesthetic. We still doubt the relevance of this point.

17



Carved walls

Inca people wanted to build long-term constructions. They are the creators of special walls without mortar, without cement, whose stones are so perfectly put together that we can't insert the blade of a knife between two of them. To realise such a prodigy, they were stacking large stones to build resistant walls. Then, these stones were cut to matching better and smoothed to make a facade flawlessly flat. It results an impressive work for a still impeccable after five centuries.

18



Inca fortresses

The empire was growing decades after decades and, obviously, Inca people didn't have only friends among countries they invaded. Furthermore they were reducing a part of the population in slavery. That's why the Incas built many fortresses or reinforced walls to ensure the defenses of their cities.

19



Puca Pucara

The fortress-tower of Puca Pucara was defensive oriented. It has the particularity to be the only Inca site, made of red stones. It was much used for military ceremonies.

20



Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo is another Inca military wonder, a fortress composed of a citadel, defensive terraces, a bastion and a temple of the sun. Any army wanting to reach the bottom of the Sacred Valley and the city of Machu Picchu must pass this strategic point. The city has been strongly fortified by the general Ollantay who gave his name to the city. Consequently the conquistadors of Pizarro underwent here one of their rare defeats against Inca people.

21


The Sacred Valley


The Sacred Valley is the valley of the Urubamba River flowing in the north of Cusco. It was important to feed the hundred of thousands of inhabitants in Cusco. That's why the Inca built agricultural laboratories in Muray or in the Machu Picchu to experiment on these many lands other ways of cultivation. The sites of the Sacred Valley are well preserved, which give its major interest to the valley.

22


Inside an Inca city: the Machu Picchu


The Machu Picchu is the name of an Inca city, located 2430m above see level, and abandoned under the order of the Emperor to defend Cusco. The city, almost intact, has never been found by the conquistadors. It was still inhabited by three Inca families when it was rediscovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham.

Its visit is an essential point to well understand the Inca world.

23



A difficult access

The place of each Inca city has never been the result of pure chance. The Machu Picchu was perched atop a mountain where its access could be easily controlled. Machu Picchu has been forgotten for a good reason: it is very difficult to go there. He was almost inaccessible at the time. Today, you can get there from Cusco by three ways:
-the train of the Inca, also called the the most expensive train in the world. Count 200$ for a return ticket on the hundred kilometers of rails between Ollantaytambo and Agua Calientes, the city at the foot of Machu Picchu.
- the trek of the Inca, four to five days long, to book well in advance. Or the Salkantay trek you can do with or without guide - more economic - in five days.
- the economic and fast option: take a minibus (6h) for the hydroelectric dam, then walk along a railway for 2h. Sleep in Agua Calientes.

Therefore, to be behind the gates of the Machu Picchu at the opening at 6am, we can opt for the bus 10$ or the challenge to climb the 370m rise(one hour walk) to the site.

24



An impressive ancient city

When entering in the site, we can discover an whole city designed to a population of three thousands inhabitants. Here is the view of the site before the mountain Huayna Picchu. Indeed, nearly all the city has resisted to the weight of the years, without any maintenance. Only thatched roofs have logically disappeared.

25



The Sacred rock

The rock has the identical shape than the mountain that stands behind. This rock has just been craved by the Inca. This place was used for the big ceremonies.

26



The temple of the Sun

The city contains all the expected elements of an Inca city: agricultural terraces, guard posts, temples, homes, fountains,... Here you can admire the temple of the Sun.

27



Temple of the Condor

This sacred temple looks like a condor. The stone on the floor has the two eyes of the animal and its body. And the wings are the two stones in V-shaped above this stone. In the cavity, there was found bones. Everything makes us believe that there animal and human sacrifices used to occur.

28



The gate of the sun - Intipunku

The meaning of this place comes from its location: it is situated at the east end of Machu Picchu and it awakens the site with the earliest sunlight. Inca people could come to Inti's temple (the God of the Sun) to watch for the sunrise. From there, we can also contemplate the entire Machu Picchu! Great! On the other side, there is Cusco at a distance of a seven days walk.

29



In Summary

The Incas founded in the Andean mountains one of the greatest civilizations of the world. Their apogee has come with their destruction, accelerated by the arrival of the Spanish. If we regret the methodic destructions performed by them, we can only marvel facing the immortality of what has survived, demonstrating solid foundations of a fallen empire. Even today, the Inca identity remains deeply rooted in the mind of Peruvian around Cusco, who dream to rebuild their own world.

1





The article intends to introduce in a few paragraphs the Inca civilisation that we visited many remnants. It's a fascinating folk whose identity is still inscribed into the heart of people around the city of Cusco, in Peru. A short overview of a fallen empire.


History of Inca people.
The beginning

It all started on the Lake Titicaca's shore (see article 27), this sacred lake where Inca's gods appeared. Manco Cápac, the first Inca, was born on Isla del Sol. The Inca nominated the emperor of all the Incas, the living god, representing the God of the Sun on Earth. The people he gathered migrated first in southern actual Peru until they found the city of Cusco. The famous city had been found by Kilke people, an ancient civilisation that were living there between 900 A.D. and 1200 A.D. The Kilke also built in 1100 A.D. the fortress of Sacsayhuaman. But according to Inca legend, the city has been built by Sapa Inca Pachacutec, the emperor who made Cusco to become the vast empire of Tawantinsuyu.



The empire's expansion

Until the fifteenth century, Inca people were dominating a modest territory around Cusco. Around 1438, under the reign of the ninth Inca Pachacutec and his son Tupac Yupanqui, Inca people expanded their territories from Quito to Santiago - so a length of five thousands of kilometres. About the administrative gestion, Inca territories were split into four provinces similarly to the four districts of Cusco: Chinchasuyu (NW), Antisuyu (NE), Kuntisuyu (SW) and Qullasuyu (SE). When an Inca was dying, his title went to the first son and his properties and his goods were given to a corporation controlled by his other relatives. This process has been expanded to the whole high society (priests, nobility, ...). The process was called split inheritance. Each title holder had to build a new house and add new lands to the empire. Thus the empire's expansion was ensured. The construction of the sites in the Sacred Valley, next to Cusco, began in the 1450s. Some sites like the Machu Picchu were not finished when the Spanish arrived.



The fatal Civil War

And despite a fair distribution of the legacy by the eleventh Inca Huayna Cápac, his two sons argued the control of the whole empire. That's why Pizarro, the leader of the Spanish conquistadors, took advantage in 1532 of the civil war and conquered so easily the territories of the empire. The first Inca son was captured by the troops of his stepbrother Atahualca when the latest was taken prisoner and loosely executed by Pizarro. In 1533, the Spanish army entered in Cusco and conquered the city. Inca people were beaten and their capital has fallen.



Rebellion

Three years later, the rebel Manco Inca Yupanqui, pretending to be the heir of the throne, took control of the city... for some days, before he had to flee to the stronghold in Ollantaytambo, then in the jungle behind the Machu Picchu. Illnesses has been more lethal than Spanish people for Inca people.


Cusco - the mythic city of Inca people


The former capital of Inca empire stands at 3400m above see level. The Spanish destroyed all the Inca monuments and kept only the foundations to build there huge cathedrals, palaces and colleges. All of these is why the city is a historically marked place and with an own inimitable style.



Churches by dozens

The cathedral of Cusco, the many massive churches show all the supremacy and the power taken by religion during this era. The impious had to be converted and impressed by the power and the magnificence of the Catholics' God, and by His wonderful cathedrals challenging in extent their European counterparts.



Sacsayhuaman

It is a sacred hill over Cusco. A fortress have been erected there by Inca people to protect their shrine. It's also the site chosen by Pizarro and his few dozens of men to repel the unceasing Inca assaults trying to take back Cusco.
Remains of civilizations older than three thousand years had been preserved by Inca people before the arrival of the Spanish, making this site one of the most impressive in archaeology. Tunnels leading to Cusco have been found under Sacsayhuaman. From this labyrinth too, the Inca tried many times to remove Pizarro from this sacred place.


Religion


The Inca people inherit ancient Andean traditions, especially in their beliefs. Territories around the Andes is being particularly exposed to the elements - such as earthquakes, climate and dangers of the mountain. Andean people thus believe in nature represented gods. Inca people venerate the sun and his representative on Earth - the Inca - the moon and the stars, to which they dedicated temples.



Sacsayhuaman - the Sacred Rock

A thirty meters high rock lays in the middle of Sacsayhuaman's site. According to a local guide, el Maestro Hector, protector of the supernatural energies of this site, a major part of the Pachamama's powers is gathered here. The Incas sculpted on the rock the three steps representing the three worlds of their mythology. Below is the ground where we came from when we were born, in the middle our world where we live and above us, the sky we reach when we die. The Incas strongly believed in reincarnation. Thus the majestic condor dominating the sky was revered, much more than the puma living on the land or the vile snake arising soil.



The Temple of the Sun

There was a temple of the Sun within all villages, fortresses and high places. The god of the Sun was protecting them. We noticed the exceptional quality of the carving of stones in their ruins. Some cavities are remaining but the associated relics disappeared. The temple of the Sun, to Sacsayhuaman, is integrated into the site, while the temple of Moon is located on a hill below. The moon is symbolically dominated by the sun.



Q'enqo

Q'enqo is a site a little further from Cusco. It's a maze of stones, stairs and tunnels. In its center, an altar for sacrifices has been used for rites of civilizations pre-Inca then Inca. It is interesting to see the common points between the civilations of the Andean mythology, broadly adopted by the Inca.


Astronomy


Inca people were great worshipers of the heavenly bodies and had studied a lot solar and lunar cycles. Their constructions are dedicated to their science.



An astronomical observatory

The location of Machu Picchu was chosen partly for its proximity with the stars. Inca people were able to know precisely the date of the solstices. At the dawn of the winter solstice, the first sun ray passes exactly into the space between the two mountains around the city. The light reaches then a construction stone: the astronomical observatory. The Incas studied stars and the season for agriculture purposes too.


Incas constructions


As the region is subject to earthquakes destroying any bad construction, Inca people became masters in the stone work. If, even today, we still find their buildings standing, it's because the solidity of their buildings is extreme, resistant at any seism.



Pisac - the agricultural terraces

On the top of the mountain overlooking the village of Pisac was built an Inca village, its temple and its fortress. Below, we can find dozens of stone walls, sixty meters long on average, built in successive terraces to support the mountain. Their second reason to exist was linked to agriculture: they used the fertility of the well irrigated land on terraces.
According to a Machu Picchu's guide, the walls of the terraces had a third function: to be aesthetic. We still doubt the relevance of this point.



Carved walls

Inca people wanted to build long-term constructions. They are the creators of special walls without mortar, without cement, whose stones are so perfectly put together that we can't insert the blade of a knife between two of them. To realise such a prodigy, they were stacking large stones to build resistant walls. Then, these stones were cut to matching better and smoothed to make a facade flawlessly flat. It results an impressive work for a still impeccable after five centuries.



Inca fortresses

The empire was growing decades after decades and, obviously, Inca people didn't have only friends among countries they invaded. Furthermore they were reducing a part of the population in slavery. That's why the Incas built many fortresses or reinforced walls to ensure the defenses of their cities.



Puca Pucara

The fortress-tower of Puca Pucara was defensive oriented. It has the particularity to be the only Inca site, made of red stones. It was much used for military ceremonies.



Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo is another Inca military wonder, a fortress composed of a citadel, defensive terraces, a bastion and a temple of the sun. Any army wanting to reach the bottom of the Sacred Valley and the city of Machu Picchu must pass this strategic point. The city has been strongly fortified by the general Ollantay who gave his name to the city. Consequently the conquistadors of Pizarro underwent here one of their rare defeats against Inca people.


The Sacred Valley


The Sacred Valley is the valley of the Urubamba River flowing in the north of Cusco. It was important to feed the hundred of thousands of inhabitants in Cusco. That's why the Inca built agricultural laboratories in Muray or in the Machu Picchu to experiment on these many lands other ways of cultivation. The sites of the Sacred Valley are well preserved, which give its major interest to the valley.


Inside an Inca city: the Machu Picchu


The Machu Picchu is the name of an Inca city, located 2430m above see level, and abandoned under the order of the Emperor to defend Cusco. The city, almost intact, has never been found by the conquistadors. It was still inhabited by three Inca families when it was rediscovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham.

Its visit is an essential point to well understand the Inca world.



A difficult access

The place of each Inca city has never been the result of pure chance. The Machu Picchu was perched atop a mountain where its access could be easily controlled. Machu Picchu has been forgotten for a good reason: it is very difficult to go there. He was almost inaccessible at the time. Today, you can get there from Cusco by three ways:
-the train of the Inca, also called the the most expensive train in the world. Count 200$ for a return ticket on the hundred kilometers of rails between Ollantaytambo and Agua Calientes, the city at the foot of Machu Picchu.
- the trek of the Inca, four to five days long, to book well in advance. Or the Salkantay trek you can do with or without guide - more economic - in five days.
- the economic and fast option: take a minibus (6h) for the hydroelectric dam, then walk along a railway for 2h. Sleep in Agua Calientes.

Therefore, to be behind the gates of the Machu Picchu at the opening at 6am, we can opt for the bus 10$ or the challenge to climb the 370m rise(one hour walk) to the site.



An impressive ancient city

When entering in the site, we can discover an whole city designed to a population of three thousands inhabitants. Here is the view of the site before the mountain Huayna Picchu. Indeed, nearly all the city has resisted to the weight of the years, without any maintenance. Only thatched roofs have logically disappeared.



The Sacred rock

The rock has the identical shape than the mountain that stands behind. This rock has just been craved by the Inca. This place was used for the big ceremonies.



The temple of the Sun

The city contains all the expected elements of an Inca city: agricultural terraces, guard posts, temples, homes, fountains,... Here you can admire the temple of the Sun.



Temple of the Condor

This sacred temple looks like a condor. The stone on the floor has the two eyes of the animal and its body. And the wings are the two stones in V-shaped above this stone. In the cavity, there was found bones. Everything makes us believe that there animal and human sacrifices used to occur.



The gate of the sun - Intipunku

The meaning of this place comes from its location: it is situated at the east end of Machu Picchu and it awakens the site with the earliest sunlight. Inca people could come to Inti's temple (the God of the Sun) to watch for the sunrise. From there, we can also contemplate the entire Machu Picchu! Great! On the other side, there is Cusco at a distance of a seven days walk.



In Summary

The Incas founded in the Andean mountains one of the greatest civilizations of the world. Their apogee has come with their destruction, accelerated by the arrival of the Spanish. If we regret the methodic destructions performed by them, we can only marvel facing the immortality of what has survived, demonstrating solid foundations of a fallen empire. Even today, the Inca identity remains deeply rooted in the mind of Peruvian around Cusco, who dream to rebuild their own world.

.