It is one of the questions that causes great confusion in the people that arrive to the City of Cusco, since when they look for the word in Google; pages like the Encyclopedia Britannica, Unesco’s official website or the Lonely Planet page, they use “Cuzco” (with Z); however, when you arrive in the city, you will notice that the sign says: Welcome to “Cusco” (with S).
What is Cusco (Cuzco)?
Cusco was the capital of the Tahuantinsuyo Empire; the empire of the Incas covered from Ecuador to Chile and Argentina, had an estimated population of 10 million, which fell to less than a third, after the Spanish invasion in 1533.
Beautiful sunset in Cusco
Which is the correct one, Cusco or Cuzco?
The word “Cusco” (with S) is preferred in the Spanish language, but English seems to use the word “Cuzco” (with Z) more often. However, the Google AdWords tool (search tool) makes it clear that “Cusco” is used more often than “Cuzco”, not only in the United States but worldwide. On the other hand, the results of the investigations say that “Cuzco” (with Z), is the correct spelling, since it maintains a relation with the sound of the original name.
Why use Cusco and not Cuzco?
When you reach the Imperial City of Cusco, you will notice that many people react negatively to the word “Cuzco” (with Z) if you type “Cuzco” (with Z) in Cusco, people will surely tell you that it is wrong.
Cuzco (with Z)
It is known that among academics the word “Cuzco” (with Z) is preferred, since it was the word used by the Spanish colonies, in their attempt for the Indians of the time to pronounce the name of the city in this way . Moreover, many books about Cusco, are based on “Cuzco” (with Z).
What does Cusco (Cuzco / Qosqo) mean?
For decades, the elites in Cusco tried to improve the Inca nature of the city, trying to eliminate the Spanish traces of the city; this caused that the word “Cuzco” (with Z), was prohibited in 1976. Nevertheless, in 1993 the word Quechua “Qosqo” was introduced to denominate to the City, and after some years the word “Cusco” was returned. It is known that the Quechua word “Qosqo”, descends from an indigenous word meaning “navel of the world” or “center of the universe. ” The meaning of navel indicates Cusco as a ritual center, a sacred city where llamas and other offerings were sacrificed, in favor of the most important deities of the Empire.
It is also known that in the Quechua culture and in others, from countries like Argentina and Uruguay, the word “cuzco” means small dog.
In fact “Cusco” and “Cuzco” are pronounced in a very similar way, the controversy is at the moment of writing it. Many people; among them the inhabitants of Cusco prefer “Cusco” (with S), while the English-speaking world prefers “Cuzco” (with Z). However, in the city of Cusco, it is better to write it with “S”.
The flag of Cusco
Another thing you should know is that the flag with the colors of the rainbow you will see in many institutions and residences of the city, is considered the flag of Cusco; however, in many other parts of the world, this same flag is related to the rights of the homosexual community; but remember, in Cusco, it is only the flag of Cusco.
Flag of Cusco
By Ticket Machu Picchu – Last updated, February 15, 2019