Cuzco,
Former Capital of
The Inca Empire
Peru
Cuzco appears to be the oldest, continuously inhabited
city of South America.  It was capital of the mighty Inca
Empire, which stretched well beyond Peru to include
Ecuador and Bolivia.  The Inca resisted Spanish conquest in
a series of rebellions.  Despite Spanish destruction, signs of
the Inca Empire survive all over Cuzco.
Cuzco's Catholic Museum was built upon a solid foundation
of Inca palace stonework.  One of many ironies.  Such Inca
stones resist earthquakes better than modern construction.  
The Spanish resorted to desperate measures in trying to
convert Incas to Catholicism.    
Cuzco's Church of Santo Domingo demonstrates how far the
Spanish were willing to go in their conversion efforts.  Inca
stonework is also part of its foundation.
The Spanish always destroyed "heathen" temples of the
people they conquered.  But Santa Domingo contains
portions of the primary Inca temple, Coriancha, once
covered in gold.  The Spanish took the gold, but tried to
use Coriancha for their own purposes.
Incas coming to worship at what remained of their
temple were thus compelled to enter a Catholic Church,
the first step towards conversion.
Inca Catholics painted this subversive picture of the Virgin
Mary.  She is shaped like a mountain, which the Incas
already worshiped in their own culture.  Conversion was a
"hard sell" with the Incas of Cuzco, who still fly their own
version of the Inca Empire flag and celebrate Inca heritage.
If you have a high speed internet connection, please watch
my free Peru video of this trip by clicking on:
The Inca Lost and Found