June 4, 2003
|Cusco served as the Inca capital, and therefore you could say it is the traditional capital of South America. At least it is the oldest continuously inhabited city on the continent. The Inca legacy remains alongside the Spanish one. Huge flagstones, laid by the Incas who fitted them together without mortar, still stand as the foundations of colonial Spanish cathedrals. The descendants of the Incas have converted to Catholicism yet many have retained their ancient tongue: Quechua.
New Incas on ancient Inca streets
Plaza de Armas, the heart of Cusco and the subject of every Cusco postcard. Most streets emanating from the plaza haven't changed in centuries and are too narrow for cars. The cathedral dominating the square dates from 1559, 27 years after Pizarro's arrival. The cathedral's western wall incorporates the foundation stones of Pachacutec's palace. Pachacutec was the ninth Inca king who conquered most of the Peruvian Andes and developed Cusco into a great urban center.