We had one full day in Cusco so we made the best of it. First we went to the Inka Museum, which was the place to go for Inca aficionado. It’s a bit of a maze. Objects are not always displayed or labeled in the best way. There are some descriptions in English but not many tags. Despite the arrangement, it had some really neat exhibits. In one dark room, you looked through various holes in a wall in the middle of the room to see crouching Incan mummies. It really added to the effect. The curators tried to recreate how the mummies would have looked in their graves.
There were some amazing Mochica and Nazca pottery, groups that pre-dated the Incans (I think). Mochica pottery is my favorite pottery in the world. Yes, it rivals the Greeks. Mochica pots are often shaped like animals, plants, and people. There was a great assortment of pots, including very pornographic ones. Nazca pottery has beautiful abstract designs all over them. The Field Museum has a nice selection of both types of pottery so check it out! The museum apparently has the largest collection of Incan wooden drinking cups as well.
After the museum, we wandered around town and ended up at Hotel Monasterio. The hotel resides in a former monastery. It has a magnificent garden in the middle of it with a fountain and filled with various birds, including hummingbirds. We had a nice lunch of tapas there. It was a fine way to spend a few hours.
Afterwards, we wandered into the San Blas neighborhood, renowned for its artisans. It goes uphill and ends in a square with another church. We took a peek inside to see beautiful golden leaf altars and large paintings.
Then it was time of Incan ruins! We hired a car to take us to some sites outside of the city. About 2km away, there is a Incan fort called ‘e. It’s really an incredible archeological site. No mortar was used to keep the stones together. They are so well cut that they just fit together. Allegedly, Spanish conquistadors reported that they could not even fit a knife between the stones. Moreover, the site has special significance. Allegedly, Cusco during the height of the Incan empire was supposed to be constructed like a giant puma. Sacsayhuaman was supposed to be the head. It’s well worth checking out. There are also impressive views of the city from the mountains.
Then we went to Q’enko, a religious site. The Incans carved into the rock, letting much of the natural shape of the rock shape the site. There is a cave where sacrifices were held with zigzag channels to carry away the blood. Our tour guide said that only llamas were sacrificed but I’m doubtful that it was left at that. It was fun wandering around the site, hunkering into the cave (careful of the giant drop inside!)
Tomorrow we were headed to Machu Picchu!
That’s all for now!