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Cuzco

Cuzco or Cusco both: ko͞o´skō [key], city (1993 pop. 97,466), alt. 11,207 ft (3,416 m), capital of Cuzco dept., S Peru, at the confluence of the Huatanay and Tullamayo rivers. Its population is predominantly of indigenous descent. It is a transportation hub and a trading center for agricultural produce and for woolen textiles produced in the Cuzco mills. It also has a large tourist industry, based on its proximity to many ancient Inca sites. According to legend, Cuzco was founded by Manco Capac , first of the Inca rulers. The city had massive palaces and temples (most notably the Temple of the Sun, now the site of a Dominican convent), which were lavishly decorated with gold medallions and ornaments. When Francisco Pizarro entered the city in 1533, it was plundered; and on its ruins the conquerors and their descendants built the colonial city, using the ancient walls (many of which are still visible) as foundations for new buildings. An earthquake in 1650 destroyed much of the city, and many of the city's notable Baroque buildings were built in subsequent years. The cathedral and the churches of the Society of Jesus and of La Merced are the most notable of Cuzco's many churches. A severe earthquake in 1950 destroyed much of the city, but most of the historic buildings have been restored. The National Univ. of Cuzco is in the city, as are many art, history, and other museums; nearby are the ruins of the Inca fortress Sacsahuamán . Vinicunca, or Rainbow Mtn., is to the southeast.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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