The planning of the city of Cusco

The planning of the city of Cusco, Aracari Travel

The City of Cusco

Cusco is a welcoming, captivating city. Rustic nostalgia fills its narrow streets, as colonial buildings stand in stark contrast to the Inca walls. Urban explorers can saunter through the myriad of shops and examine the rich heritage of Cusco’s crafts workshops and markets. In 1533, Francisco Pizarro and his team of Spanish conquistadors discovered the Cusco. The conquistadores described the imposing city in their report to King Charles V:

“This city is the greatest and the finest ever seen in this country or anywhere in the Indies…We can assure your Majesty that it is so beautiful and has such fine buildings that it would be remarkable even in Spain.”

Planning inspiration in the form of a Puma

Cusco was originally built in the shape of a Puma. When the city was first being developed as the centre of an expanding empire, the great emperor Pachatuteq and his contemporaries planned the layout of the city in the form of this great Amazonian cat, well know.

Even in modern day Cusco traces of this design can be seen. The head of the puma was Sacsayhuaman, of which the zig-zagged shape is thought to represent the Puma’s ferocious teeth. The heart of the Puma was at the main ceremonial square, now the Plaza de Armas. It’s tail, meanwhile, was the convergence between the rivers of Saphi and Tullumayo. And the Koricancha sun temple? This was the hips of the puma, representing life and reproduction. A great depiction of this design can be found here.

Cusco City Design

As centre of the empire, the ingenuity of Cusco’s design did not stop at animal representations. This was the finest city in pre-Columbian South America, with exquisite stone masonry and excellent civic planning, making it a Peru travel hotspot.

Incan Walls

The walls of the city of Cusco are a highlight of a visit to the city, and an opportunity to appreciate the skill of Incan stonemasons. No cement was used in their making, where giant stone building blocks fit together perfectly. Learn more about Incan walls in Cusco.


Aracari specializes in private, tailormade tours to Peru. We arrange expert guiding across the country, including Cusco, and can connect visitors with specialists in their field such as anthropologists and historians for travelers looking to learn more about the Incas.

Contact us today to speak to an expert travel consultant to plan your trip to Peru.

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