According to the Inca themselves, they were birthed from the the sun god Inti. Like most creation myths, this sun god had a few children, one in which killed the rest for some reason. After killing his brothers the son of the sun god led his sisters and all their followers into the wild, eventually settling in the very fertile valley near what is now known as Cusco.
The Inca in their prime had an empire that stretched from Northern Ecuador, all the way to the central part of Chile. 12 million or more inhabitants with a diverse set of ethnic groups. A centralized religion and language helped keep the Inca empire organized and for the most part under control. The Inca empires success came due to their sophisticated roadways that cover miles of Ecuador, Peru, and Chile, as well as their knowledge of agriculture and celestial movements. They were very in tune with the Earth as well as the stars and their correlation with the seasons.
Stone structures & the Stars
The architectural sophistication of the Inca empire can still be observed today. Huge megalithic stone structures that defy modern perception that the Inca empire were a primitive people with no technology. The technology of the Inca empire may not yet be understood by modern researchers and historians, but it is clear they had a great understanding of the seasons, as well as tectonic movements as their stone structures compensate for both of these concepts. Machu Picchu for example is built right in the middle of two tectonic plates, and the structures that make up the holy city have been built in such a way to resist earthquakes. Also at Machu Picchu during certain times of the year you can witness stone structures interacting with the sun and the solstices as the seasons change.
The central city of the Inca empire was Cusco. This town was also constructed with the stars in mind. Astronomy played such an important role in the Inca empire, especially when it came to agriculture. The city is laid out to mimic the sky, and point to certain celestial events like the rising of the sun, moon, and stars. The beginning of the Inca new year can be witnessed when the constellation of the Pleiades rises. This star cluster witnessed by the rest of the world is called the Seven Kids, after the seven brightest stars. However, the location of Cusco, high in the Andes mountains actually allowed the Inca to see the true number of stars in the Pleiades constellation numbering 13. Some observatories built in the Inca empire had specially placed windows that would capture the first and last light from the Sun. Most of all the temples, observatories and sanctuaries were covered in gold, which the Inca empire had an abundance of. Something that captured the eyes of a greedy civilization half a world away.
Inca gold and the Spanish
The Spanish conquistador Pizzaro on November 10th 1509 sailed for the new world. After hearing stories of fellow spaniard Cortes´s exploits and success in Mexico, Pizzaro was obsessed with doing the same to the Inca that Cortes had done with the Aztec. Overthrowing an empire, and aquiring all the gold. Cortes was at first very unsuccessful, leading two expeditions one in 1524, and the other in 1526. He was met with heavy native resistance and was force to retreat. In 1528 Pizzaro arrived in northern Peru where he met natives who wore almost nothing but gold, silver and other precious metals. This discovery allowed Pizzaro to be funded for a third expedition.
The Spanish and their exposure to the native peoples of the Inca empire was the beginning of the end. The Spanish had brought a foreign disease to the new world, and millions of Inca were destroyed from their lack of immunity to smallpox and other sickness. The Incas and their empire of gold attracted the attention of greedy souls, and contributed heavily into their inevitable downfall. Before the eventual downfall however, the Inca retreated to their final refuge.
Machu Picchu and Choquequirao
Today many people are drawn to the holy city and sanctuary known as Machu Picchu. Millions of people have witnessed and experienced this Machu Picchu Travel beautiful location and its natural beauty as well as its megalithic stone architecture. This was a place reserved only for the elite people of the Inca empire: Nobel people as well as priests. Machu Picchu remained a secret even from the Spanish, however this was not the last refuge of the Inca as it is commonly mistaken as today. The Inca fled to another site, 7 times larger than Machu Picchu and still vastly unknown to people even today.
Choquequirao and its construction is very similar to that of Machu Picchu. However it is still very isolated and unknown so you wont be able to take a bus to visit this site. Trekkers and exploreres today have Choquequirao Trek a minimum of two days to reach this location. When you arrive however you will be very pleased to notice the lack of tourists. The Inca empires last refuge even to this day remains difficult to reach. Like most of the structures all over the Inca empire, Choquequirao has temples constructed for the sun god Inti, as well as certain architecture that interacts with celestial movements.
More about the Inca…
The Inca empire was connected by more than 18,000 miles of roadway. Part of the success of the Inca comes from their ability to commincate and relay messages to other parts of the empire. This task was carried out by Inca runners known as Chasqui. The job of these chasqui was to run the miles and miles of roads relaying messages to important parts of the empire about coming attacks or other events. Chasqui always were in pairs, one would rest, while the other was on constant alert for new messages.
The Inca were the first to cultivate and harvest potatoes in Peru, as well as perform successful skull surgeries. They actually developed a sort of scraping method to gradually form a hole in the skull! This operation was probably to help warriors who had suffered some sort of brain trauma in combat, as well as possibly used to treat conditions like epilepsy or some kind of chronic bone infection. Not only did the Inca perform skull sergeries, but they were also one of the many cultures world wide who were facinated with the concept of elongating skulls.
Journey to Peru and experience the Inca Empire
A top tourist destination, Peru offers a diverse blend of culture, nature as well as some of the best food you will have the chance to ever eat! Combine that with the ancient Inca ruins scattered literally everywhere, and you have the unique chance to explore a country that is literally a living breathing musuem. The Inca Empire was vast and modern day civilazation has yet to even compare to its architectural genuis as well as its sophisticated understanding of the natural world around them. There are many paths to tred when coming to Peru, but known as great as the paths the Inca themselves trekked.
Wether you come to Peru to hike, eat, or just relish in the beauty, there is something for everyone.
For more information about Cusco, the Inca Trail, Machu Picchu or cultural history check out PERU PATHs website: