The Incas: Peru’s Rich Cultural Heritage

People & Culture

Mural in Cusco of Incan Empire, Peru

With governed territory at its pinnacle larger than that of the Roman, Aztec, or Mayan empire, the Incan Empire spread along the Andes Mountains from northern Argentina and Chile – all the way to Colombia in the north. The empire was established in 15th century and at its height, in the 16th century, included more than 10 million people under Incan control, before getting  conquered by the Spanish in less than 40 years within discovery of the New World.

Despite the huge footprint left by the Incas, very little factual information is known about them. They had no written language. Stories and legends were passed on orally, and any written records and histories as documented by the Spanish (mainly the clergy) have been lost or were so biased towards the Spanish and church, that historical relevance is debated.

It is known, however, that the Inca Civilization was an agrarian civilization, with a complex stratified vertical society – governed by the Inca (King) and his relatives. Similar to the Roman Empire, as the civilization grew, the Incas introduced their methods of farming and government skills to the local tribes they conquered, also absorbing what they saw of local practices. The driving religious basis was that of the “worshipping of the Sun”, and the Incan King was seen as being “born from the Sun”, and as such, a direct spiritual descendant. The King never walked on the ground – at least in public, and was carried everywhere.

Inti Raymi Inca Sun Festival is held annually on June 24 in Sacsahuayman
Inti Raymi Inca Sun Festival is held annually on June 24 in Sacsahuayman

Today’s Peru is a melting pot of the ancient Incan, pre-Incan, and Spanish culture, as well as more modern global influences. Despite all of these varied displays, when visiting Peru you cannot help but be transported back to the time of one of the world’s largest and most regionally influential civilizations. You are surrounded by their buildings, their culture, and their story. No matter where you travel in Peru you witness the impact of the Incan Empire – be it in the facial features of the locals, in the remains of the many temples, or the spiritual birth place of the first Inca, Lake Titicaca. There is no escaping the grandeur of what once was.

Lake Titicaca, birthplace of the first Inca King and Queen
Lake Titicaca, birthplace of the first Inca King and Queen

It is from the original capital, Cusco – which, in the indigenous language of Quechua means “centre” or “navel” – that the modern day Globetrotter journeys to the most iconic Incan site in South AmericaMachu Picchu. Often referred to as the “Lost City of the Incas”, it was built at the height of the Incan Empire, and later abandoned during the time of the Spanish conquest – only to be discovered in 1911 by American historian, Hiram Bingham III. Today, Machu Picchu is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.

Machu PIcchu, Peru
Machu Picchu – Peru’s “Lost City of the Incas”

Goway currently has 3 great offers to visit Cusco and Machu Picchu:

7-Day Heart of the Incas (incl. Airfare)
Enjoy the best of Peru’s Incan ruins.

9-Day Wonders of Peru (incl. Airfare)
Special Offer: Save 20% on this small group guaranteed departure. Valid until August 31, 2015.

9-Day Cradle of the Incas (Holiday of a Lifetime)
The “piece de resistance” for the true Globetrotter wanting to visit Peru, enjoy a 5-star, full escorted, all-inclusive Peruvian experience.