Valle Sagrado (Cusco)
The Sacred Valley of the Incas is Peru’s most highly visited area by tourists. Home to the former capital of Tawantinsuyu (the Quechua name for the Inca Empire, which means “The Four Regions”), Cusco and the gateway to Machu Picchu, thousands of tourists pass through the valley on a daily basis.
The valley was formed by the Vilcanota River. The Incas appreciated the valley due to its special geographic and climatic features. It was one of the empire’s main areas for natural wealth, and one of the most important areas for maize and potato production in Peru. In addition to its beauty, the valley is known for its fertile land and served as the personal territory of the Incan royalty.
Cusco is possibly the most famous city in Peru and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. It served as the capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th century through 1532. It is unknown exactly how Cusco was built, or how its stones were quarried.
The first Spaniards arrived in the city on November 15, 1533. The many buildings constructed after the Hispanic invasion have a mixture of Spanish influence with Inca indigenous architecture. During the conquest, the Spanish destroyed many Inca buildings, temples and palaces. They used the remaining walls as bases for the construction of a new city.
Cusco was the center for the Spanish colonization and spread of Christianity in the Andean world. The Spanish colonists constructed many churches and convents, as well as a cathedral and university. Just as the Inca built on top of pre-Incan Killke structures, Spanish buildings were based on the massive stone walls built by the Inca.
Many people in this area still speak Quechua, the indigenous language of the Incas. At the time of the conquest, the Incans referred to their language as runasimi, only later to be called quechua by conquistadors. There are no similarities between the Quechua and Spanish languages, but both are now heavily intermixed, with many hundreds of Spanish words appearing in the Quechua language and vice versa.
Our Girasoles home is only an hour away from Cusco, near the town of Urubamba, along the Urubamba River. In January 2010 the house which was constructed out of traditional adobe bricks was washed away by unusually high river flooding, but thankfully nobody was hurt.
Today, the 2-story house has been rebuilt with noble materials and is home to 40 boys.