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Notes on the Geography of Peru: Cusco: Photo 13

world pictures Peru: Cusco

We're up in the choir of the Jesuit church, with the cathedral out of sight on the right. Before you start gushing about delightful Spanish plazas, let me point out that the local prefect in 1911 "completely metamorphosed" the square, which for a few of the preceding centuries had been a crowded marketplace--and, earlier still, in Inca time, had been the Aucay Pata, a terrace used for ritual feasting. Now, according to Hiram Bingham, fresh from Yale and en route to Machu Picchu, "concrete walks and beds of bright flowers have replaced the market and the old cobblestone paving and made the plaza a favorite promenade of the citizens on pleasant evenings." That was then: in the 1990s another author, Peter Frost, wrote that Cusco's mayor had just uprooted the plaza's native Andean trees and replaced them with "sparse, pitiful flowerbeds." Fast forward 20 years and trees are sprouting.

See Bingham's Inca Land, p. 98, and Frost's Guidebook to Cusco, p. 65.

Bingham went on to say that the town's market had moved to the Plaza of San Francisco, but in the years since Bingham it's moved yet again. One more detail: the plaza had once been an Inca ceremonial center so important that the Spanish chose it as the site for the execution of both Tupac Amaru and Tupac Amuru II.

For an old photo of the plaza, with with groups of llama grazing on the grass, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQS9BARSxco

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