The origins of Cusco are lost in the dark night of pre-history. Archaeological excavations reveal that a primitive population already lived around 3 thousand years ago in the valley of Cusco (except for the marshy bottom of the valley) and they tell us something about their cultures. There is documented information about the cultures of Chanapata and Marcavalle. Their constructions even served as a base for the Inca temples such as Qoricancha or the Temple of the Sun.
There are many legends about the origin of the Twantinsuyo. One of them tells how, Manco Cápac and his sister and wife Mama Ocllo, half gods and children of the Inti father (the god of the sun), emerged from the waters of Lake Titicaca with the mission to found a new Kingdom that would improve the conditions of life in the towns.
Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo had to walk until they found a place where the big sceptre of gold that Manco Cápac carried would sink into the earth. They walked to the north and arrived in Pacárec Tampu (Pacaritambo) where they rested in a small cave; at sunset they continued their trip to the north until they arrived at the Huanacaure hill and there the sceptre disappeared into the ground and they founded the city of Cusco (means the navel of the world).
It is sure that the cultures of the highlands such as the Wari and Tiahuanaco had a big influence on the Inca culture. The first residents formed the Hanan Cusco with more developed agriculture and archaeological technology. Inhabitants of other districts, informed of their successes, submited to them and thus Tahuantisuyo arose, the great empire of the Incas, which after 14 successors of royal lineage, stretched from to the north of Colombia, and Chile to the south of Argentina. As capital the city of Cusco reached its maximum splendour.
Of the first Incas we know little more than names and legends, called the myths of the Incas. We have some more information starting with Pachacútec ("he who moves the earth"), the great conqueror, who also transformed Cusco and reconstructed it. The greatest part of the archaeological monuments which we know now in Cusco were his works. His son Tupac Llupanki was a great conqueror; his grandson Waynacapac gave the empire splendour, while his great-grandchildren Huáscar and Atahuallpa were involved in internal struggles until the Spaniards arrived and occupied the city in 1533, thanks to the support of Inca dominated towns, which saw the Spaniards as liberators and eventually also became subjects of the Spanish crown.
Cusco was at this time a city of admirable stone architecture with wide squares, big temples and palaces decorated with abundant pieces of gold. Many of these colossal constructions are still standing.
Spanish Cusco built its foundations of Inca walls and followed the lines of Incas streets. They built several buildings, churches and founded a flourishing school of art (17th - 18th centuries), represented by several painters and artists (paintings of the Cusqueña School, the pulpit of San Blas, the custody of the Cathedral and the church of La Merced, etc.). The mix of Andean and Spanish cultures has given its architecture and population very special characteristics. It is a city of incomparable beauty that conserves its customs and traditions with pride, while at the same time gradually adapting itself to modernity.
To this one must add the privileged geographic situation and the amazing landscapes it grew in the midst of. Cusco is the most frequently visited tourist destination in Peru, and the richness of the attractions of the city and the surrounding area, such as the Lost city of the Incas, Machu Picchu, make it one of the principal tourist spots in the world, offering excellent quality in tourist services.