Since the discovery of Machu Picchu as an international wonder more than 100 years ago by Hiram Bingham, Cusco city has undergone an unprecedented transformation. Coping with booming tourism and numerous earthquakes throughout the centuries, Cusco has evolved into a lively, eclectic hotspot and source of pride for the people of Peru. Follow us back in time with this video of Cusco from the 1930s and compare it to the city’s streets today.
Cusco: Then and now
Video of Cusco: Withstanding the tests of time
This video is a collection of photos and video footage depicting Cusco city in 1936, which have been compiled from archives of the University of Pennsylvania.
The Inca were extremely skilled in stonemasonry, and one of their unique architectural characteristics was the use of irregularly shaped, huge stones fitted together without the use of mortar. This actually served a specific purpose, in fact, to allow for the stone blocks to shift and then settle back into place in the event of an earthquake or any seismic activity. While such an ingenious concept, Spanish explorers forgot to take notes on this lesson. On May 21, 1950, Cusco city experienced a devastating earthquake which destroyed nearly half of its colonial buildings and infrastructure, but the Inca stone walls of the ancient cities remained intact.
The heart of the Inca today
Since the time of the Inca, Cusco city has developed into a bustling city that offers a wide variety of upscale hotels and restaurants, lively nightlife, all infused with a traditional Andean flavor unique to the region. Cusco’s population of approximately 350,000 is a diverse mix of people from all over the world, including Asia, Europe, United States, as well as Amerindian and mestizo. The city flourishes as hub for more than 600,000 tourists annually seeking to explore ancient Inca ruins and experience authentic Andean culture.
Experience the capital of the Inca for yourself
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The earthquake that shook Cusco in May of 1950
More pictures of Cusco in the early 20th century by Martin Chambi
Check out some more statistics, pictures, and historical information about Cusco published by the World Heritage Convention.
Katy is no stranger to the life of an international traveler. After graduate school, Kathleen worked in California in the legal field, but later realized that life was calling her in a different direction. After a short time in Peru, she fell in love with the culture, the people, the food, and the way of life. Now Kathleen calls Lima her “home away from home,” although she frequently visits the warm, sunny northern Peru to see friends and surf.