Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The legacy of the Spanish (and Inca)

Throughout Peru and the rest of South America, the Incan civilization left its mark on the landscape. Whether that was in the form of terraces, stone cities or simply the legacy of Quechua which is the indigenous language to this day, there is no doubt of the impact they had over less than 200 years of dominance. This legacy clashes interestingly with the architecture and town layout brought to the region by the Spaniards and Pizarro.
The Inca were geniuses at administrative management and retained control of their empire not through military force but through improving the lives of the people under their rule. They did not force them to abandon all their culture and way of life, but simply introduced their customs as well. The Spanish did the opposite, and the result can be seen by the layout of Spanish-style cities and old Inca ruins.

In some areas, the Spanish completely relocated the town such as in Pisac. The old town stands a thousand feet up on the mountainside – a ludicrous place for a city in the view of the Spanish, and too easily defensible. The modern-day town of Pisac is located in the valley and can be seen from the ruins of the mountainside, a testament to the vast changes brought by the consquistadores.

In other towns like Ollantaytambo and Chincherro, the new town has been incorporated and built on top of the old town. The entrance to the old city of Ollantaytambo was converted into the modern central plaza, but the ancient streets can still be seen in both locations. Both these towns are located in more acceptable areas to the Spanish which probably explains why they weren’t completely moved and were instead built on top of.

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