Marvels of the Sacred Valley in Peru
The Sacred Valley (Urubamba Valley) in the Andes of Peru is considered to be the heart and soul of this intriguing country. This was the sun-worshipping Inca empire homeland for more than two centuries before Peru’s first capital, Cusco, was built there in the 16th century by the Spanish.
This fertile valley, which is generally understood to include Pisac and Ollantaytamboas well as Cusco, is fed by many rivers that descend through surrounding valleys and gorges. The Incas appreciated the valley for its climatic and geographical qualities, and much of the empire’s natural wealth and maize production came from the Sacred Valley. Over the years of Inca occupation, they built a string of fortresses and sacred temples throughout the valley and there are numerous interesting archaeological remains to be explored.
For tourists in Peru, the Sacred Valley is a treasure trove of past and present. The first Spaniards arrived in the Sacred Valley in November 1533. The city of Cusco was discovered and named by conquistador Francisco Pizarro in March 1534. Throughout the city and surroundings there is evidence of the many buildings constructed by the Spanish on top the foundations and some of the walls of the old Inca city. Temples were replaced with churches and Inca palaces were replaced with mansions for the conquerors from Spain. The area thrived during Spanish occupation and many convents, churches and even a cathedral were built. During an earthquake in 1950 many buildings that had been built on top of Inca foundations and walls were damaged. But the Inca walls remained unscathed and the earthquake exposed more Inca buildings that were previously undiscovered. At the request of Cusco’s inhabitants, these walls and ruins remain and add an interesting dimension to the city which tourists enjoy visiting. A rich history of Incan art is found in Cusco and many historical treasures are displayed in two museums - Museo Inka and Pre-Columbian Art Museum.
There are a number of other places of interest in the Sacred Valley, including Machu Picchu that can be reached on foot via the Inca trail or by train. Machu Picchu is considered to be one of the most noteworthy Inca achievements, and these ruins give fascinating insight into the history of the Inca empire.
The agreeable climate and lush natural beauty of the Sacred Valley in Peru makes this a wonderful place to visit. Add to this the long and interesting history of the area and the people that live there, and you have many compelling reasons to visit this prime tourist destination.