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The Inca Heartland

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The Inca Heartland

The Incas' innate ability to build in harmony with the environment is more than apparent in this picturesque Andean province. The Sacred Valley, which they took to be a representation of heaven on earth, is rich in nature as well as ancient history, with many Inca temples and fortresses. Of these, none is more spectacular than Machu Picchu, a UNESCO world Heritage site.


Inca heartland was the largest and oldest developed empire in the Americas. It had as imperial seat the city of Cusco. It dates from the year 1,200 AD. The word Tahuantinsuyo comes from a name composed of two Quechua words: Tawa, which means four, and Suyo, which means State.


The territorial area of the Inca heartland was vast. It occupied more than 3,000,000 km, having more than 5,000 km (3,107 miles) of coastline on the Pacific Ocean, which today represents twice the Peruvian territory.


The four of their own or nations had Cusco as its geographic and political center, and they were distributed to the northwest by the Chinchaysuyo, which goes to the Ancashmayo River in Pasto (Colombia); to the northeast the Antisuyo was located, in the subtropical valleys, occupying part of the Amazonian low forest; to the southwest the Contisuyo occupied part of the Peruvian coast up to the river Maule (Chile); and to the southeast the Collasuyo, which today occupies a large part of Bolivian territory until Tucumán (Argentina).


All the lands belonged to the Sun, the Inca and the State. These were distributed in such a way that each inhabitant had a fertile plot of land to work with. Males received at birth a mole or tupu (2,700 m, 0.27 Ha, 0.67 acres), while women half mole. They could not sell or inherit them, since they were not granted in property, but belonged to the State; therefore, when a person died their land was destined for a new inhabitant.


Fore two centuries, Cusco and its environs were the homeland on the Incas, Mysh enfold its founding as the dynasty's capital. It is said thar Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo, the children of the Sun and the Moon, setout on a quest to find a place to establish their kingdom. When they reached the Valley of the Huatanay River, Manco Capac was able to thrust his staff into the ground until it vanished, a divine sign indicating that this was the site for the Inca capital.


Although the Inca heartland was occupied by other cultures for several centuries before the incas arribed, including the Wari in the 8th and 9th centuries, it was undre inca control that Cusco reached its peak as an administrative, religiousm, and military hub. According to the16th century writings of Garcilaso de la Vega, the son of an Inca princess and a spanish conquistador, 13 Inca emperors rule dover the valley from the 12th to the 15th century. From here, they built the Inca Empire in less than a century. Pachacútec ,the ninth Inca nad acosntruction visionary, wa sresponsible for fashioning Cusco into a shape resembling of the sacred puma.


In 1533, Francisco Pizarro and the Spanish arrived in cusco and following the crushing defeat to the Incas, founded the iron city, turning pre-Hispanic structures into Colonial mansions. Gradually, Cusco and its surrounds became a symbol of mestizo, a blending of Colonial Spanish with Andean elements, both architectirally and culturally. Once Pizarro left, the province reverted to being just another calm Andean domain. The rediscovery of Machu Picchu in 1911 set in motion the transformation of this remote Inca outpost to sightseer central.


Sights at a Glance


Towns and Cities

  • Calca
  • Chinchero
  • Cusco
  • Pisaq

Archaeological sites and Ruins




  • San Pedro de Andahuaylillas
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