City of Marchers and the Inca Historian Who Fought the Moors : Cuzco, Peru. November 2008.

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.
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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.

Inca Capital


We saw many more marches in the main square in Cuzco, such as the one shown here. The people living near Cuzco were marching there long before the Spanish arrived in the 1530s. In one of the first histories of the Incas, Inca Garcilaso wrote about how Christian processions in Cuzco mirrored the harvest festivals held there before the Spanish arrived.

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.
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One thought on “City of Marchers and the Inca Historian Who Fought the Moors : Cuzco, Peru. November 2008.

  1. I think it’s a bit of an overstatement to say that Inca art is among the best in the world. To be fair, though, the Spanish melted down most of it, so who knows what really existed? What I find so intriguing is the utter absence of large-scale stone carving in the Ica arts, despite the Inca’s obvious skill at working stone seen in their perfectly fitted masonry.

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