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Cuzco History

Cuzco History

Located in southern Peru at an altitude of 11151 feet (3399m), Cuzco, also known as Cusco or Qosqo (meaning navel or bellybutton in Quechua) is considered the oldest living city on the American continent with a continuous habitation extending for over 3000 years.

Cuzco's history does in fact extend way back to before 1000 BC when the Marcavalle Culture was the dominant power; indeed organized life in QosqoCity began practically with them. In the second phase of its history, around 800BC, Cuzco was home to the Chanapata culture and later developed several regional states, one of the first being that of Qotakalli around 600 A.D. By 750 AD, the Wari invasion from the north of Ayacucho began, resulting in the construction of buildings and what today is known as Pikillaqta. Subsequently, by 800 A.D. the regional state of Killki was formed, which included Sacsayhuaman itself and later that of Lucre around 1000 A.D. What is traditionally known as the Inka civilisation began around 1200 AD in its initial phase, with the first Inka, Manko Capaq and Mama Ocllo. It is also suggested that Pachakuteq, the ninth king, elaborated another foundation in 1438 which is also known as the expansive phase. Inca builders hereafter laid out the city in the form of a puma, with the fortress of Sacsayhuaman as the head, the plaza of Huacaypata as the belly, or navel, and the converging Huatanay and Tullumayo Rivers as its tail.

The ancient plaza was the core of the suyos, the four regions of the Inca Empire extending from Quito, Ecuador to northern Chile. The plaza was the site of official and ceremonial buildings and residences of ruling officials and was the locus for the famous road network where swift runners carried communications to all parts of the empire. Surrounding the city were areas for agricultural, artisanal and industrial production.

After the arrival of the first Spaniards to the city on November 15th 1533, Francisco Pizarro refounded it for the Spanish King on March 23rd 1534. In 1536 Manko Inka began a long and bloody war against the Spanish invaders with a siege lasting over 8 months over the city. Finally in 1572, after a war that lasted 36 years, Tupaq Amaru I, the last emperor of the Inka dynasty was defeated, captured and executed in the city's main square. The Spanish subsequently destroyed many of the structures in the city or used them as foundations for many of their own churches and buildings.

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