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Cuzco (Peru)

The Capital City of the Incan Empire


Qorikancha, Cuzco, Peru

Qorikancha; the smooth foundations are Inca, the Santo Domingo church was built by the Spanish

Yan-Di Chang

The modern day city of Cuzco, Peru is located in the Andes Mountains of Peru was founded, according to legend, by Manco Capac, the founder of the Inca civilization. Unlike many ancient capitals, Cuzco was primarily a governmental and religious capital, with few residential structures. Cuzco was the Inca capital city, from the mid 15th century up until it was conquered by the Spanish in 1532.

The most important archaeological structure in Cuzco is probably the one called the Coricancha (or Qorikancha), also called Golden Enclosure or the Temple of the Sun. According to legend, the Coricancha was built by the first Inca emperor, but certainly it was expanded in 1438 by Pachacuti, who built Machu Picchu. In the sixteenth century, the Spanish built a church and convent on its massive foundations.

The Inca part of Cusco is still visible, in its many plazas and temples as well as massive remnant earth-quake proof walls. For a closer look at Inca architecture, see the Walking Tour of Machu Picchu.

Archaeologists and others associated with the past of Cuzco include Bernabe Cobo, John H. Rowe, Graziano Gasparini, Luise Margolies, R. Tom Zuideman, Susan A. Niles, and John Hyslop.


This glossary entry is part of the About.com Guide to the Inca Empire and the Dictionary of Archaeology.

Kuznar, Lawrence A.1999 The Inca Empire: Detailing the complexities of core/periphery interactions. In World-Systems Theory in Practice: Leadership, production, and exchange. P. N. Kardulias, ed. Pp. 224-240. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Morris, Craig 1976 Master design of the Inca. Natural History 85(10):58-66.

Protzen, J. P. 1985 Inca Quarrying and Stonecutting. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 44:161-182.


Alternate Spellings: Qosqo, Cusco

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