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The First Incas

According to legend, the ancient sun god instructed his two children, Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, to emerge from Lake Titicaca, at which point he gave them a golden staff. The reason: to found the Incas by sticking the staff into the ground in the place where they would establish their new kingdom. Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo searched Peru high and low but, try as they might, they could not find a place to support the staff. Finally they came upon the most beautiful place they had seen yet in a fertile valley high in the mountains. Sticking the staff into the soil, they founded the city of Cusco. Thereafter, Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo ruled the region together, conquering the area tribes and presiding over the Inca Empire.

Some versions of the legend say that in the spot where they stuck the golden staff, Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo built the Temple of the Sun, known as the Qoricancha, and dedicated it to their father. When the Spanish arrived they built the Santo Domingo Church over the Inca foundations of the Qoricancha, and today it is currently one of the most impressive tourist attractions in Cusco, combining both intricate Inca architecture with Spanish colonial style.

You can visit the historic Qoricancha on Cusi Travel’s Cusco City Tour, which also includes visiting other important Inca sites just above Cusco city such as Sacsayhuaman, Qenko, Puka Pukara, and Tambomachay. Visiting these sites before taking your trip to Machu Picchu is a great way to learn more about the Inca’s history and culture so that you can arrive to Machu Picchu with a better understanding of this famous citadel!

By Judy Delorme