The place where the Main Square of the Cusco is located was in ancient times a marshy area, which during the Inca era was dried up and transformed into an administrative, cultural and religious center of the Tahuantinsuyo empire, after the conquest was Occupied by the Spaniards, who surrounded it with temples and residences that were built on buildings and foundations of old palaces and Inca constructions; Tupac Amaru II was executed in the main square of the city of Cusco in 1781. Today it is the central nucleus of Cusco, and is surrounded by jewelers, travel agencies, tourist restaurants, and temples of the same period of the conquest, merging the andean and hispanic architecture.
View of the Plaza de Armas of Cusco. Cathedral (left), Company of Jesus (right)
Controversy for the name of the Main Squareo of the Cusco
The true Quechua name with which was denominated the current Main Square of the Cusco, in the time of the Incas, is not yet known. Authors like Maria Rostworowski affirm that it was called Aucaypata, place of the warrior; Other authors such as Víctor Angles say that it was Huacaypata, place of crying, and others like the American George Squier (in 1863) say that it was called Huacapata, a sacred place.
Víctor Angles, a student of the Inca culture, explains that the square was formed by two sectors: Huacaypata and Cusipata (all coincide in the latter’s name). Both denominations would have a symbolic meaning since the first means place of weeping the second means place of rejoicing (at present, that place is still called Plaza Regocijo). According to Angles, this was due to meditation ceremonies performed by the Inca nobility in the square. These rituals ended in tears. It is now known as Huacaypata.
The place where the Main Square of the Cusco is located, was a marshy area dried during the time of the empire of the Incas, using sand brought from the coasts of the Empire; The drying is initiated by the Inca Sinchi Roca, and was concluded by the Inca Pachacutec. To talk about the Main Square of the Cusco, is to speak of a place full of history, that initially was a swamp, that with the passing of the years, became one of the main tourist attractions of the city of Cusco.
This square was the administrative, cultural and religious center of the capital of Tahuantinsuyo, one of the largest empires in America and the World. With the arrival of the Spanish, the Main Square was surrounded by temples and mansions, raised on the structures of Inca palaces and buildings that existed there.
In this place also was executed Jose Gabriel Condorcanqui Noguera (Tupac Amaru II), 18 of May of 1781; Eminent personage of the Peruvian history, that was revealed against the Spanish invasion. In the current Main Square of the Cusco, you can find travel agencies, jewelers, tourist restaurants and temples dating from the colonial era.
The Main Square today
Nowadays the Main Square is located in the historical center of Cusco, and is surrounded by tourist shops. The colonial temples built around them are maintained as such, some of them also function as museums.
The buildings mostly retain some Inca walls fused with the Hispanic architecture of the colony. The importance of the area, makes it one of the most expensive in the city. In some cases the rental of a local, can cost up to 1,500 dollars per month. Some years ago, fast-food restaurants such as McDonald’s and others such as Bembos, KFC and Starbucks were opened.
The Main Square continues to be the place where many of the folkloric celebrations of Cusco are celebrated, such as Santuranticuy, Easter, Corpus Christi, and other more modern ones, such as national holidays, Cusco holidays, New Year, etc. There are also free concerts, some parades of institutions and allegories, as well as political rallies.
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