Cusco Travel Guide | The Ancient Inca Capital of Peru

What’s up everybody? And welcome back to Vagabrothers. Right now we’re at 3400 meters in the heart of the Andes in Cusco, Peru. Cusco is the oldest continuously inhabited city on the continent. It was the heart and capital of the Inca Empire, and it’s been referred to as the Rome of the Americas. Today we’ll be exploring its fascinating history, from its foundation by the Inca to their brutal conquest by the Spanish and the living history that survives today. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be interesting, and it starts right now. Listo? Vamanos We arrived here last night from Lima, and the first thing I noticed is that Cusco is a feast for the eyes. There’s so much to see. All the locals are dressed in these beautiful fabrics, and the architecture is absolutely incredible. The first thing I noticed was the altitude because the Andes are the highest mountain range in the world, after the Himalaya. The second thing I noticed are the buildings because although they look Spanish, they are built with Inca stones, and the Plaza de Armas where we are right now still the center of the city was also the center of the Inca capital. So in short Cusco has many layers. We’re going to do our best to explore all of them starting with the oldest, the foundation of the city by Manco Capac over six hundred years ago, but before we do, here’s what you need to know about the Inca. The Incas are the most well known of Peru’s indigenous cultures, but they’re really just the most recent of many. There were the Parcas famous for their textiles. The Nazca famous for the lines in the desert, and the countless others who battled for control of the Andes before the Inca solidified their rule six hundred years ago. According to legend, in the 12th century the first Inca King, Manco Capac, was sent on a mission by the Sun God, Inti, the supreme deity to find the navel of the earth or Qosq’o in Quechua, Cusco in Spanish. He founded a city that would be the capital of eleven more Inca emperors. From the capital of Cusco, the Inca Empire stretched from modern-day Colombia all the way down to Chile and Argentina. It was rich in gold and silver, and its skilled artisans created some of the most beautiful and valuable artwork in the Americas. The Golden Age of the Inca lasted just a hundred years until 1532 with the arrival of Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizarro who with 170 men, 27 horses, and a single cannon captured the Inca Emperor, Atahualpa, and demanded a ransom so high that the Inca had to strip their beautiful temples of its precious gold. After all that Pizarro killed Atahualpa anyway. The Spanish conquest of the Inca is one of the saddest chapters in history, not only the slaughter and subjugation of countless thousands of people, but the systematic eradication of one of the most advanced cultures the world has ever seen. But not all was lost. Modern Peru is a fusion of Inca and Spanish traditions, and the culture is kept alive through the ancient Inca language, Quechua, still spoken by the majority of people here in Cusco. Here are some useful phrases: Hello, how are you? Por favor Gracias Okay, so we’ve hopped in the car. We’ve driven up and out of Cusco, and right now we’re at the fortress of Saqsaywaman. If you can’t remember how to pronounce it, just think “sexy woman.” But it’s a Quechua word. Basically, this was a citadel designed to protect the city of Cusco, and what you see behind us is now about 20% of what remained. There’re these huge stone walls everywhere, and one of the most impressive things about this building and about all of the Inca construction is that they have these massive stones, some of them up to 200 tons each, and they all fit together perfectly, so closely without mortar that you can actually not even put a piece of paper between them. We’re going to go check out the entire fortress. There’s lots of little trails going around. There’s a viewpoint over there, but the most impressive part, like Marko said, of this fortress is the construction of it. We have rain and thunder on the way. It’s just part of being in the Andes. These huge giant stones that sit and slide perfectly in with one another and like you said no mortar. So it’s pretty incredible. Actually, the most incredible thing about all this… let’s be real, Alex. There are just alpacas wandering this this area. I want to go pet the alpaca. You can get kicked in the face. You know, coming to a place like this really sparks my interest. I studied the Inca in college, and it’s been a long time, but I’ve always wanted to come to Peru and see this place for myself. And just taking a look at these stones, you get a sense of how advanced the civilization was even though they didn’t have a lot of the things that we take as necessities for advanced civilization. Yeah, they had no iron; they had no steel; they had didn’t have the wheel. And they accomplished all these things from building a huge vast communication system of roads all without even the written language. But they did communicate through these things called “quipus” and a series of runners. There was a certain tribe that was part of their empire that was chosen to be the runners. They were able to run insane distances, and they would communicate throughout their vast empire using the “quipus,” which was a series of knots on these ropes that could communicate information like harvests, taxes brought in in different provinces. And it’s pretty crazy.. the level of administration that they had. And all the roads that they built back then still exist today. Just like in Rome… all roads led to Rome; all roads led to Cusco. So a fair statement the Rome of the Americas, I think. All right well we’ve made it back into Cusco. We’re in the centro historico, and we’re here for lunch. Where’re we eating, Bro? We’re eating at Chicha. This is a restaurant from Peru’s most famous chef, Gaston Acurio, and it basically uses local ingredients from the surrounding area. So two o’clock.. lunch time in Peru. For lunch we’ve ordered some traditional Peruvian dishes. We have some papas rellanas, which are basically stuffed potatoes. They have carne picada that are like ground beef inside of them, and then they’re breaded and fried. We have a ceviche, little twist on it. It’s got a trout instead of the typical ocean fishes. And then we have this little sampler right here, which has all sorts of traditional meats. I don’t even know what they are. What are they? The idea behind the restaurant is that everything… There’re various Chichas around Peru, and each one takes ingredients only from the surrounding area. Everything on these plates here is either from Cusco or the surrounding valley. For example, the ceviche uses trout which is a river fish rather than sea bass from the ocean, and it’s served warm with some yuca. And by the way, we’re joined by the fourth member of our group, Darren, who’s here to help us with VR. Say hi. Hi. And so he’ll be helping us with the VR shoot in Machu Picchu, but for now it’s lunch time. That’s the winner. I think this dish does not come from the surrounding area because it comes from heaven, and it’s so good. Lunch is over, so back to the story of the Spanish conquest of the Inca. When the Spanish arrived, the Inca Empire was primed for conquest. They had just finished a brutal civil war, and Atahualpa, the Inca Emperor, was camped out at Cajamarca. When Pizarro came, he captured him through a combination of trickery and deceit and held him hostage. The ransom: his prison cell filled once over with gold and twice over with silver. To pay that ransom, he sent his men along with some of Pizarro’s here to the Temple of the Sun. This building is all the remains of a Temple of the Sun, Coricancha, Quechua for Golden Patio because it was literally covered in gold- the walls, the floors, the ceilings, even life-size golden alpacas and llamas. But Pizarro’s ransom was so high that to pay the price the Inca had to strip and defile their holiest temple of its gold. Then when they did, Pizarro broke his word and killed Atahualpa. And to add insult to injury, he took their holiest temple and converted it into a Catholic convent. And that was the beginning of the end of the Inca Empire. This is all that’s remaining of the Coricancha Temple of the Sun. You can see the architecture here is incredible, and supposedly architects have come. They still don’t know exactly how they made it so perfect, but there’s a window here that lines up through the entire building, absolutely perfectly. Been an incredible day exploring Cusco, and honestly one day is not even close to enough. This city has so many stories, so many layers of history. Every little alley-way and cobblestone lined street is a new adventure, and we need to come back. Well, we’re not leaving yet. I know another day here, but I still want to come back already. Bringing it back though to the first observation of the day of this being the Rome of the Americas, I’d actually say I think it’s more like Istanbul because you know Istanbul had the Christian layer, and then the Muslims came and they took all their beautiful churches and turned into mosques. They left the churches preserved with the art that was inside of them, and I look at this beautiful city, and it is extremely beautiful. I do kind of wish that they had left some of the Inca buildings as they were- except converted them into into churches. Although the churches are beautiful, you definitely know that there was something lost. For sure. One of the biggest travesties of all time was the destruction of the Inca culture, but there is some hope there because the people who live here still practice their culture; they still speak their language; they still dress in traditional clothing, and they celebrate traditional festivals. I think that there is a positive note at the end of all of this, and now it’s kind of all blended into this very beautiful unique culture that you can only really find here. But you will never stop to wonder…what could have been? What if there have been two separate cultures living together intact? On that note, let us know your thoughts down in the comment section. If you enjoyed this video, give it a big thumbs- up, share with your friends, subscribe and turn on notifications if you haven’t already. Stay curious, keep exploring, and we’ll see you guys tomorrow in Cusco and then later on Machu Picchu. Stay tuned. Paz.

Comments 100

  • Hey guys! Fantastic video. I wanted to ask if you guys knew the name of the flamenco-style song that comes on around 10:02. I really love it and would love to save it to my library. Thanks!

  • Not all the locales wears those beautifull fabrics or colors darling.

  • They're so handsome 💓😍

  • Pizarro vs the low amount of Incas is inaccurate. That’s the number told by the Spaniards to benefit their story. Historians in Peru tell it other wise. And that in a empire was also divided between two brothers that split the empire trying to see who becomes the new in a king. Peru historians stated that if Pizarro would of arrived 3 years before when the ruler and true king was still alive(their father) the Spaniards wouldn’t of won any battles or the conquest. The empire was triple the size it was when Pizarro arrived.
    Thanks for this video cause it’s very knowledgeable and good tips on what to see when people visit cuzco

  • Eso video está brillante, gracias para hacerlo. You guys seem like an absolute blast to explore with, thanks for beautifully documenting your adventures and sharing it con nosotros. ¡Gracias!

  • Just returned from Cusco and Machu Pichu High Inca trail And Lima Peru Historic places

  • Awesome video!
    Thank you for showing our culture and traditions! (the Quechua lessons were top, Sulpayki!)

  • buen video… gracias por mostrar la cultura quechua..

  • For more than twenty years, I researched the earliest written records about Cusco and Machu Picchu. And finally found the hidden history of Peru. When you see the real history of this place, it will first anger you that they hid it. But then you will reach the highest high to know what you have found. The discovery was put in the book When Rocks Cry Out, by Horace Butler. See it at Amazon. This great history of Peru was hidden for more than 500 years. Don't let their lies keep you from this world changing truth any longer. Long live the great Cusco!

  • To hide the true identity and history of Cusco, these modern 'scholars' tell us that Cusco had no writing. What you are going to discovery is that Cusco, together with the Ancient city, 'Teotihuacan,' were the two greatest Ancient literary capitals on the planet. Their ancient records continue to exist, and greatly. How brazen were the racists to tell us that Cusco did not know how to write, with thousands of its Ancient histories continuing to exist.

  • Beautiful

  • El Peru es un arte cultural muy hermoso

  • you must to visit the amazonas next time!
    i wish comeback one day again to Peru

  • As soon as the Spaniards and other Europeans arrived the Inca people started to die, due to outbreaks of smallpox, chicken pox, cold virus, flu, rats, they didn't have any defence against the European diseases, the arrival of the Europeans was really the apocalypse for the Incas.

  • The inca did not construct the megalithic stone walls…they were already there when then occupied the region. The inca never stated that they constructed it. It's a myth, western brainwashing.

  • Cusco is so beautiful. The core of Cusco's construction is pre-inca btw.

  • I think you are vastly overestimating the Inca Empire. You say here that was one of the most advanced the world has ever known. Yet they didn't figure out the wheel? They didn't have an alphabet. They practiced human sacrifices and then were conquered by a handful of Spaniards with one canon. The fact that they were able to fit rocks together doesn't seem that impressive to me.

  • At 10:15 theres a guitar playing anyone know the name

  • Well said bro there in tbe end , when the muslims took over turkey they never destroy any church or any jew temples but they kept it safe , when the muslims took over spain they defended the christians and jewish and protected them , when the chinese discovered south America they never killed or harmed any south american , but when the portugese and spanish took over south america they made a big massacre with the maya civi. And they did the same with the muslims in spain after they took over there country back !

  • spanish always have to ruin everything.. loved the video

  • Hermoso Cuzco y todo el Perú 😍

  • Maraviloso video , gracias!!

  • Hey guys love your video's, if you check Brian Foerster subscriber on Utube ,,,he has a different take on the history.
    The large Stone structures he attributes to a Pre Inca civilisation which he describes as Megalithic ancient cultures.
    He also visits Mexican and Egyptian Pyramids.
    The Megalithic structures survived a ancient Cataclysmic event.
    May be of interest to you and your subscribers.
    Interesting how the Christian Colonialists were so destructive and showed no respect.
    Gold and silver taken back to Europe while destroying so many cultures.

  • You said Native Americans(Inca) had no wheel, check google, whites didn't bring anything more than disease famine and death! Wheel and axle – it has been argued that indigenous Mesoamericans had invented the wheel. The oldest wheeled figure to have been uncovered in Mesoamerica is a crowned, dog-like figure in Tres Zapotes, Veracruz, dated ca. 100-200 CE. However, the most common examples of the Mesoamerican wheel and axle are the excavated Aztec clay wheeled "toys".

  • It's literally "feast to the eyes" as you put it!
    I love your videos because they're so informative. Thank you ✌️

  • La mayoría que hace reportajes o documentales acerca de Perú comete errores al emitir sus apreciaciones sin haberse documentado. Uds. estimados señores lo han hecho de una manera objetiva, culta y respetuosa. Agradecerles por difundir la cultura peruana, porque eso es ahora el resultado del mestizaje de varias civilizaciones de lo que ahora es el Perú. Su apreciación acerca del Coricancha es resaltante, muchos no lamentan la destrucción parcial del templo para edificar sobre ella el Convento de Santo Domingo, eso fue un sacrilegio para la historia.

  • All in the name of Jesus !!! What a joke. How Christians can completely disregard all The atrocities that were done agains man women child and their culture.

  • Como se llama la canción del segundo 0:01 y 12:10

  • Really loved this place. Extended our stay on every check out date and luckily we could keep our room. It got to a point where, if we showed up at the reception, they would go — mas noches??? Such an incredible place

  • I love this city! So unique with its colonial architecture but also has it's Inca roots!

  • Just say beautiful beautiful beau6iful city similar like florence

  • Now I am going to Cusco. Good job, vagabrothers

  • Song name at 10:04?

  • Hi!! if someone needs a lodging or help in Cusco, i have an apartment for rent by airbnb, don't hesitate to write me.

  • you are so cute and the video is great with a lot good information , well done..!
    you should come to Germany too Liebe Grüße..!

  • Very nice job.

  • Hablas de que la conquista española fue una masacre, pero la inglesa que?, la hipocresia

  • Piratas 😂

  • Woow very good info about the Inca culture. I am Peruvian and you are very well informed about it, thank you so much. 😀👍

  • Great video before traveling to Cusco. Very intiguing! Thank you

  • Beautiful Cusco!

  • Conquistador ummmmmmm….

  • Se dice que cuzco estaba bañada de oro.

  • sin duda minpais favorito en el mundo!!! slds desde canada!!

  • Love it! Cuzco it's one of the most amazing places in the world! Great picture and photography… fantastic job guys congratulations !

  • Cuzco mágico!
    Una joya, el alma de los pueblos originarios de este continente americano.

  • Excelente Edición, son geniales..

  • increíble hace falta una segunda parte, saludos desde Cusco Peru

  • Sólo un detalle; La sangre Real de los Reyes y príncipes Inkas es decir La élite de Sangre Azul Inka hablaban "Puquina el idioma Real"; el Quechua o Runasimi lo habla el pueblo la plebe; así de elitistas eran. Saludos.

  • Beautiful!!!


  • Makes me so proud to be Peruvian 😊

  • Just returned from an amazing trip to Cusco & Machu Picchu, stayed 2 days in Cusco……incredibly beautiful city, incredible experience

  • Great content! What time of the year did you travel to Peru?

  • As a tour guide in Cusco, it is worth mentioning about this and other videos relating to Peru. Your videos have the best explanation on the net. thank you Vagabrothers.

  • went to Peru for 2wks last yr. 1 week in cusco and surrounding was not enough

  • Great video! But that really fine stonework the Inca inherited from a previous more advanced people. The Inca built on top of it. You can see the difference.

  • Que hermoso vídeo y Cusco mágico, hermoso!.!.

  • Exellent video of Perù…..TOP!!!!♥️

  • Gracias brothers por enseñar lo bonito que es mi PERÚ y sobre todo machu picchu thanks !!

  • da pena on :'(

  • Hola … Felicitaciones … Peru Five mm Me gusta … Mis gustos son los mejores … Autoconciencia neutral saludable … Sin tensión Sin presión Sin síndrome Sin daño … Y luego … Esperemos que bendiga a Dios Todopoderoso Amor Uno Amor Amor Paciencia Más fuerte … Mantente fuerte Espiritual … Bismillah … Hermandad cuidadosa2 Heartbeat2 … La Haula se perdió el proyecto de ley Aliyil Adzim Amin … Heartbeat2 Heartbeat2 cuidadoso … Hasbunallah Wa Nikmal Vice ..! ! Tawakal !! .. Nikmal Maula Wa Nikmal Nashir .. Lo siento antes .. Gracias.

  • Cada vez que voy a Cuzco y los guías me explican que algunas obras de los incas quedaron inconclusas por la invasión española, también me pregunto qué hubiera pasado si los españoles no hubieran invadido y saqueado la cultura inca. Cuántas obras maestras nos hubieran dejado. Los peruanos amamos nuestra cultura, y estamos orgullosos de los incas. Hermoso video, con información muy importante.

  • Natives are still Indians… Unlike other part of South America like Argentina and Brazil where majority have European ancestry

  • I love Cuzco!!!!

  • ‘Think this does not have from this area because comes from heaven’ that’s the best compliment ever heard

  • Is it too rainy in early January?

  • thank you .

  • I like that joke

  • Just arrived in Peru, having a blast!

  • just came from Cusco, the only thing I missed is the chocolate dessert you had in this video! I loved the city and already want to come back!

  • Peru/Chile is now the spiritual heart of the planet…Earth's kundalini moved from Tibet when the Dalai Lama left and it moved to northern Chile near the Elqui Valley…this location is on the exact opposite side of the pole as Tibet. This is spoken about in Drunvalo Melchizedek's book Serpent of Light where hundreds of indigenous Elders came to Peru to ground this energy and transfer the old masculine energy to the new feminine energy that will preside over the age of aquarious

  • Inca did not do the big blocks that are close fitting!

    It's called megolith and that type is way older than Inca. Inca didnt have technology to put big blocks together with such precision.period.

  • Flamenco music in Peru?? I don't think so…

  • WELCOME TO PERU!! ., spread the good word.

  • Four years follow visiting Cusco . And next year the 5th… I love Cusco. Next : Wakrapukara, Queweschaca tower, condor valley in Cusco, Raqchi, and again Vinicunca.

  • incas opressed other cultures..and because of that the incas lost …spanish and other tribs united to defeat the incas was not only the spanish

  • They want tips for everything.

  • Hey what will be expenditure & how to go from India ?

  • Beautiful country from the Philippines

  • Just returned from Cusco 👍

  • Did Peru ever get it's Inca gold back?

  • 3:04 The Spanish didn’t do it alone they used the other tribes who fought against the Inca. They knew the terrain and had more men etc.

  • 3:29 thank you someone finnaly notices this

  • 4:47 Saqsaywaman (as you spelled it which is wrong: Sacsayhuamán) is not a fortress. It’s the foundation of an ancient sun temple and perhaps a kind of palace for the emperor. The Europeans think it’s a fortress because it’s resembles the most to a fortress because they had never seen anything with such high big stone walls. But so you know, it’s not a fortress.

  • 6:19 So you studied the Inca in college but still mostly of this video consist out of false facts. The one thing I should give to you is the perfect explanation of the genocide the Spanish had done.

  • 7:19 Not all the roads from back then still exist today. That’s just not true. Quite a lot for nowadays still exist but not all.

  • 8:23 What is some real traditional food is Lomo Saltado or Malinesa de Pollo. Those are dishes what the locals eat, really delicious. What you got maybe had the inspiration of traditional food but it’s actually bit Westernized and fancied up. Still delicious and it looked good, but you gotta try those other dishes. + Try Cuy (Guinea Pig), that’s typically Peru, and Alpaca dishes. Alpaca is just like sheep for them so don’t think you’re eating their cat or dog or something they eat that too in the mountains, very healthy and nutritious.

  • 10:52 You are not allowed by the authorities of Cusco to touch that wall. Every tourist wants to touch the wall and yes it’s tempting and cool because it’s there hundreds and hundreds of years and was build by them. But if everyone touches that wall it will crumble faster and faster. So please everyone going there. Stand before it and take a nice picture but please keep your hands of it so this wall can stand here for hundreds of years to come.

  • 11:16 that’s actually true, thank you!

  • 11:58 Indeed they don’t know EXACTLY but the answer is the Inca were just that good. There are even people claiming it to be build by Aliens because such people in Peru couldn’t possible build this. Vagabrothers you didn’t say this I am not attacking you I am just mentioning it because other people say that.

  • 13:20 Exactly, thank you! 🙂

  • 13:38 Yes and no. The pure Peruvian (and so Incan) bloodline is dying and will be eradicated very soon because still to a couple of years back the genocide hasn’t stopped. Pure blood Peruvian woman would be taken of the streets and be sterilized. Next to that Quecha the language of the Inca is dying. Less and less people and speaking it.

  • Is this what the emperor’s new groove was based on? Cusco? The alpacas? And the rest of the characters’ names?

  • They need so much more recognition

  • music at 0:42 ?

  • la roma de america es arequipa no cuzco , es ombligo del mundo.

  • Awesome, will be there in April. Thank s guys!

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