Cusco is many things: the capital of the Inca empire, Peru’s most important cultural city and the country’s top tourist destination. In the native Andean language of Quechua, Cusco means “Naval of the World,” and legend has it the Incas laid out the city in the shape of a puma, a sacred animal. When Spanish colonizers arrived in the 16th century they tried to claim the city as their own, attempting to quash the native culture by constructing elaborate colonial buildings on top of important Inca sites. This enchanting mix of old and new draws thousands of visitors to this UNESCO World Heritage site each year, and charms many into staying.
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