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Preface and General Information
Qosqo in History
The Tawantinsuyo
The Inka
Inkan Religion
General and City Planning
Materials and Lithic Technology
Inkan Architecture
Agriculture
Coca Leaves
Andean Camelids
Andean Condor
Inkan City of Qosqo
Present-day Festivities
The Cathedral
Saint Blaise Church
Convent of Our Lady of Mercy
La Compania de Jesus Church
Saint Francis Convent
Monastery of Saint Catherine
Qorikancha
Saqsaywaman
Pisaq
Ollantaytambo
Chinchero
Maras, Moray, Pichingoto
Tipon, Pikillaqta, Andahuaylillas
Machupicchu
Inka Trail
Manu National Reserve
Vocabulary
Bibliography
Maps

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THE INKAS' QOSQO CITY

When this ancient city was the Tawantinsuyo's Capital it also must have been the biggest and most important metropolis of the continent (without chauvinism, neither willing to remove value of some other pre-Columbian cities in America). There are opposing discrepancies about the city's population during its apogee; they arose because of the very superficial and imaginary existing data given by the first chroniclers, and because today it is difficult to measure the demographic concentration existing by that time. Pedro Sancho de la Hoz, a Spanish soldier who acted as Pizarro's secretary, wrote in 1543 that in the city were found more than 100,000 houses. Victor Angles, by deduction based on some chronicles, states categorically that the population was 300,000 inhabitants. Besides, Santiago Agurto following relative population densities estimates about 126,000 persons for the urban zone and about 100,000 for the rural one, that is, a total population for the Tawantinsuyo's Capital of about 225,000 inhabitants.

The city must have been very well organized according to the classic Inkan City Planning. Its narrow and normally straight streets were properly paved with cobblestones and with channels in the middle or at one side of them conducting clean water that was consumed by the population. The walls of its buildings were made with carved stones, at least in the downtown area, and in the suburbs with mud-brick or "pirka" type walls but lined with painted stucco or plaster made of clay. Its roofs were thatched and very steep. The homes had a considerable scarcity of openings as doorways or windows in order to enable interior heating in cold seasons. In short, it was a pleasant organized city, and without any pollution.

The ancient Inkan Metropolis was divided into two great sectors from a line formed by the roads leading towards the Antisuyo and Contisuyo, that is, the present-day streets of Triunfo, Hatun Rumiyoq, Cuesta San Blas, and on the other end the streets of Marquez, Santa Clara and Hospital. These two sectors were: towards the north, the Hanan Qosqo, modified form of "Hawan Qosqo" ("Upper Qosqo"), inhabited by the dynasty since the sixth Inkan ruler Inka Roqa. Towards the south was the Urin Qosqo which is a modified form of "Uran Qosqo" ("Lower Qosqo"); preferred since the founder of the Tawantinsuyo, Manko Qhapaq until the fifth ruler Qhapaq Yupanqui.

Chroniclers state, more over, that the city was divided in different districts that according to Garcilaso Inca de la Vega were 13. Starting on the north and clockwise they were: Qolqanpata or "Storehouses District" present quarter of San Cristobal; Kantupata or "Kantu Flowers District" (today "Kantu" -Cantua buxifolia- is the Peruvian national flower); Pumakurko, or the "Puma's Spinal Column", the main street of this district still keeps its original name; T'oqokachi or "Hollow Salt", that today is located in the San Blas quarter; Munay Senqa or district of the "Pretty Nose" located in present-day Recoleta; Rimaq Panpa or "Speaking Plaza", present Limaqpampa square; Pumaq Chupan or "Puma's Tail", located in the area of present-day fountain in front of the Savoy hotel; K'ayao Cachi o "Salt Formation" in the present district of Qoripata; Ch'akill Chaka corresponding to the present-day neighborhoods of Santiago and Belen; Piqchu that means "summit or mountain" still keeps its name; K'illipata or "Kestrel District" (k'illichu = Kestrel -sparrow hawk-) located before Piqchu; Karmenqa present district of Santa Ana; Wakapunku or "Temple Doorway", present-day Saphi street. Nevertheless, Cusquenian scholar Manuel Chávez Ballón states that there were 12 districts, suppressing Pumakurko and K'illipata but adding Qoripata, and that they were distributed in groups of 3 following the four Suyos or quarters.

It is evident that city life in ancient Qosqo elapsed around its great Plaza that was found in its present location but which territory was cut off by its middle in colonial times. It is known that this huge Plaza was divided into two sectors by the Saphi ("Root") River that flowed channeled and covered by the middle of it. One of those sectors, before the today's Cathedral, was assigned for the most important political and religious ceremonies of the Tawantinsuyo. However, there is controversy about this sector's name; many chroniclers indicate that its original name was Haukaypata that would mean "Ceremonial Sector", but tradition and some scholars state that it originally was Wakaypata (Weeping Sector). The other half of the Plaza was the Kusipata (Cheer Sector), because after the great ceremonies, the population was concentrated in this Plaza's sector in order to carry out their parties, to eat and drink. This great Plaza was paved in different segments with flagstones, and mainly covered with sea sand that enabled its use in the rainy season. By the center of those two sectors there was a special high platform known as Usnu from which the Inka, the priests or other officials could address their people.

The most important buildings were concentrated around the great Plaza, they were mainly palaces of some of the Inkan Society's Rulers. Among them stood out the Inka Pachakuteq's palace known as Qasana towards the plaza's northeast forming the corner with present-day Plateros Street. Towards the north of the previous was the palace of Inka Roqa named Qoraqora. Inka Wiraqocha's palace Kiswar Kancha was in the spot where today is the Cathedral. In front of that palace there was a Suntur Wasi, a building that had a cylindrical shape with conical roofing and served as arms and emblems house. The Hatun Kancha palace belonging to Inka Yupanqui was to the east of the previous. The Ajlla Wasi or Virgins of the Sun's House was on the northeast side of the present-day Compañia de Jesus church. The Amaru Kancha was the palace of Wayna Qhapaq occupied by the today's Compañia de Jesus Church, surrounded by present-day Ave. Sol, Afligidos and Loreto streets. In front of this last palace there was another Suntur Wasi too. Even more, in the downtown area of the city there were some other palaces such as the Pukamarka that was palace of Tupaq Inka Yupanqui, which magnificent walls are still seen in present-day Maruri Street and it was also surrounded by the present streets of San Agustin, Santa Catalina Ancha and Arequipa. Another was the palace of Hatunrumiyoq (it is a modern name because over here, in the green diorite wall is the famous twelve angled stone, its original name is unknown) that belonged to Inka Roqa but today is Archbishop's palace. The Qollqanpata palace was located in the present San Cristobal parish and was supposed to be property of the first Inka Manko Qhapaq.

Every palace occupied a broad territory, almost always a whole block, and must have sheltered the Inka's Panaka, that is, his whole extended family (ancestors, descendants and some other relatives). Around the Kusipata Square there were no palaces yet, but the lots were already walled in and prepared for future buildings. Over here, also, every 5 days the Qhatu (market) was carried out, it was performed based on bartering of goods, and according to Martin de Murua with the attendance of about one hundred thousand people.

History, tradition and reality indicate that Inkan Qosqo City in its downtown section had the shape of a Puma or Mountain Lion (Felis concolor), a feline considered as special deity among the Quechuas. As evidence of this, the name of Pumakurko Street is kept, "pumakurko" means and represents the "Puma's Spinal Column"; the district of Pumaqchupan or "Puma's Tail" is on the joint of the Saphi ("Root") and Tullumayu ("Bone River" or "Thin River") Rivers; the location of that joint is in front of the present-day Savoy Hotel. Today they are channeled and covered. Besides, the head was located in Saqsaywaman that would derive from " saqsa uma" (saqsa uman?) or "marbled (speckled, veined) head" as a consequence of its duty in the city's shape. According to tradition the shape was that of a puma (cougar or mountain lion) squatted or crouched over the Saphi River.