The procession shown here passed by during my first hour in Cuzco. My husband and I were having a quick lunch on a balcony overlooking the main square when we heard music and spotted the crowd. David encouraged me to run down to the square, where I took this picture and video.//www.youtube.com/get_player
Cuzco’s main square is one of the prettiest I’ve seen, and I try to spend a good part of my travels hanging around plazas in the Americas. Cuzco benefited from a 16th century battle between Jesuits and the archbishop of Cuzco. The Jesuits made their church so grand that the archbishop appealed to the pope, trying to get the Jesuits to knock it off. The archbishop got the ruling he wanted from the pope, but by then, much of the work had been done on the Jesuit’s church, or so the guide books say. The cathedral is shown on the left below and the Jesuit church on the right.
Garcilaso de la Vega
, shown here, lived what sounds like an extraordinary life. He was born in Cuzco in 1539, about six years after the Spanish toppled the Incas. His father was a conquistador and his mother a descendant of Incas. Garcilaso
grew up speaking Spanish and the Inca language, Quechua. Around 20, he got an inheritance and headed off to Spain, where he’d spend the rest of his life. His Comentarios Reales de los
Incas told about the Incas before and then during the conquest.
Think of what Garcilaso de le
Vega saw. He grew up in the fading but probably still spectacular Cuzco. While the Inca Empire had a heyday
of only about a century before the Spanish arrived, it produced some of the world’s best art, especially its textiles. Garcilaso de
la Vega then heads off to Spain, where centuries of Moorish occupation had left some of the most beautiful buildings of the time. He’s supposed to have died in Cordoba, which to this day has at least the remains of one of the world’s most beautiful mosques, the Mezquita
And there’s a bit of a twist to his life story, at least seen through modern eyes. Garcilaso de la Vega served with Spanish forces that put down a revolt by Christianized Moors in the mountains not far from Granada. Here’s a man whose writings protected the memory of the Incas, fighting against another set of people conquered by Catholic Spain. Quite a puzzle for 21rst century sensibilities.