The city of Cuzco was the religious and administrative heart of the Inca Empire and today is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Americas. Inca Cuzco was not the largest city in the Empire, but being the heart of the empire, it retained a holy status as the home of the ruling Incas.




The first Spanish to see Cuzco arrived in early 1533 but stayed only briefly. Pizzaro entered the city on November 8, 1533 as an ally to Huascar who was one of two brothers waging civil war for control of the Empire.  Huascar was captured and killed by Atawallpa, who was later captured, ransomed, and killed by the Spanish. They installed Manco II as Inca, but he was in essence a prisoner of the Spanish. He escaped and on May 6, 1536 launched a siege of Cuzco that did not defeat the Spanish but did burn the city entirely. Manco II was eventually defeated and during the many years of Spanish occupation the Inca architecture of the city was largely destroyed or dismantled to build new structures. Up until the 1930s the fortress above the city of Sacsaywaman was used as a quarry for stones used in new construction.
The colonial church of Santo Domingo is built on a base of Inca stonework. Coricancha, or "Golden Courtyard" was one of the richest temples in Cuzco. The perfectly fitted, smooth blocks of the curving wall in front of the church represent some of the finest Inca stonework in Cuzco.






In the photo above the wall on the left was likely built by the Inca. The regular ashlar stones decrease in size as they go up and the wall is angled inward. The wall on the right is probably from after the Spanish conquest. The stones do not diminish in size and the wall is plumb.



Cuzco 2